On my recent search to find low-commitment mobile simulation games, I decided to revisit a piece of my childhood – Kairosoft games. These games have been with me since more than a decade ago. Back then, almost all Kairosoft games were free on Android. Now, it is the opposite, at least in iOS. Dream House Days is one of the free games that are arguably better than most of the paid games. Here are the cool things about this game and some limitations:
- Dream House Days combines a life sim with interior design – multiple interior designs, in fact. The interior design part is very clean and minimizes clutter. Most importantly, every piece of furniture has purpose and the game is all about their strategic placement to obtain special rooms and bonuses. Overall, a good balance of strategy and freedom. You’d probably need a bed and washroom for each apartment but there is also nothing stopping you from making a giant arcade room for example :3.
- Everything makes sense and has a purpose. Each piece of furniture has a purpose of increasing comfort and rent. Character stats determine whether students get into university, and whether graduates get their dream jobs. The purpose of each aspect of the game is also made clear. Intellect determines university admission, charisma determines interpersonal relationships, and so on. Overall, this is easy to pick up for a new player.
- You get to peek into the lives of your many tenants. Compared to life sims where there are only a set number of individuals (e.g. family sims) or where it takes forever to get a new tenant, your population in Dream House Days just keeps growing. Once you pass the beginning few years, there will always be tenants bringing in their spouses and babies being born each year. This is more similar to sims like Virtual Villagers, where you get to manage multiple people each with their own unique stats, talents etc.
- Here is something that I didn’t think of when I first played this game in elementary school: this game is a representation of privilege. The overall progression of a life is this: tenants get married, have babies, the baby grows up in the apartment, attends school, and eventually moves into their own apartment then finds a job. Now, there are numerous other sims where the offspring’s stats are determined entirely or at least partially by their parents. However, the offspring in this game are born with somewhat random stats as far as I can see. What truly determines their stats later in life is the furnishing in their apartment. Tenants interact with their furniture and different types of furniture increase their stats to a different extent. A child does not necessarily need to be born from excellent parents in order to succeed, but their environment determines what they are interested in. That’s an interesting concept to think about.
- The characters are cute. There’s nothing more to say, I just love Kairosoft’s pixel art style. You also get pet cats and dogs and pigs (I think in some other games you can have chickens as well). Yes, these character designs are recycled from every other Kairosoft game, but consistency is cool.
- You get an insane feeling of progress after only 3-4 hours, where your apartments are looking good and tenants are having good lives. In theory, you’d only need to play the game once until the 20-year mark (which is the end of the score-counting period). However, you can choose to continue indefinitely or start a new save for a new high score. The choice is up to you to either care about your score or just keep going with your original save.
- This is not a challenging game. After a few years, you would basically never worry about not having enough assets. There is not much resource management involved anymore which is a drawback for me. However, this does give you infinite freedom to build whatever fricking furniture you want and redesign things to your heart’s content.
- The timing is weird and too fast. Each year is split into four seasons with each season split into weekday and weekend, and it always flies by. Timing is an interesting thing in sims and I could probably do an analysis on what I think the perfect time speed is (it would probably involve analyzing Elnea Kingdom, which has a pretty good time system).
- Most of the recent critical reviews in the App Store point out the lack of diversity in the characters of this game. Valid point, but having grown up with Kairosoft games from an age where this did not matter as much, I don’t know if I envision them changing their characters any time soon. There are some minor things from that game that could be changed, like how there is always a worker and a homemaker in each family rather than having both spouses work. However, I would accept this limitation or else I’d have to think a lot more.
Thanks for listening to my short rant, I had nowhere else to put this. Yes, I know there are now online communities for these games like Reddit. But those probably didn’t exist back then (and if they did, I wouldn’t have known since I played these games without Internet). The conclusion: I recommend Dream House Days, and other Kairosoft games. Haven’t really revisited the paid ones ever since I switched to Apple products (rip). Try out the free ones and enjoy their unique style. If you feel like sponsoring me I can rebuy the paid ones and make a tier list or something, but that’s for next time.