As a casual free-to-play match three game combined with a cute narrative, Homescapes Playrix’s Gardenscapes spin-off does good in both segments – in one you match three or more of a kind by swapping two bordering pieces, in another you help Austin the butler renovate his childhood home with coins you’ve earned from finishing match three levels (or bought them).
The graphics are really pleasing to the eye, from a Sims-like perspective, a lot less hectic than Candy Crush. Combined with soothing elevator music it gets you into the mood for cleaning the big old house, even someone not really keen on cleaning as me. Actually, the match three clearing of the board goes hand in hand with cleaning the house both literally and metaphorically.
At first it may seem strange that a bald middle-aged man is winking at you after every game with words of support when you fail a level, but things that most of us can relate to, like Austin’s arguing with his father about how to fix the stairs, his worrying about what to get his mother for birthday and chatting with childhood friends lure you into this heart-warming story. Especially since in this economy a lot of folks have had to move back in with their parents.
Basically, it is possible to spend zero dollars on the game and the 5 lives every couple of hours are just enough so you don’t get caught in all day play, but some levels are pretty hard and it could get costly to continue playing after you run out of moves.
There are some annoying quirks, for example when you activate the kite after matching four pieces arranged in a square, which is a kind of bonus, you never know which way it’ll fly, but it adds up to the „fuck yeah effect“ when it unexpectedly solves the level in the last move.
Homescapes is a very entertaining game, but also an efficient procrastinating tool, so after a few levels every day I’m always left thinking „why is this butler so much happier than I am and where did my life go wrong?“.