The Tenants is a landlord simulator by Polish Ancient Forge Studios and a welcome addition to my list of good chillout games. Other games in this list are ones like Dorfromantik, Cloud Gardens, and Townscaper. The game is still in early access so there are still some imbalances to fix and polishing to do. It’s very playable already and the house renovation is really meditative to me. It’s blissful; to be able to clear your mind just by comparing all the furniture options for a new bathroom you are about to create.
The game is split into two parts: The landlord mode and the Renovation mode. The landlord mode resembles the famous life simulator The Sims, in the way that you interact with Sim-like characters while they are living in their houses and flats rented by you. Your tenants have different kinds of personalities with different kinds of wants and needs which of course affect the interaction. What matters is, what kind of environment they want to live in. If a tenant for example likes sweets, you can bribe them with chocolate. If a tenant likes a vintage-style interior, they will of course prefer vintage-style rooms and will be ready to pay better rent than if the style was something they don’t like. I’m not a big fan of this mode to be honest because it feels slow and grindy: buy an apartment, renovate it and then rent it. This is slow and doesn’t bring money fast so you need to do some extra jobs too: babysitting other landlord’s tenants and renovation jobs.
Before buying The Tenants I eyed the House Flipper, which like the name suggests, concentrates on house renovation. I don’t like House Flipper’s first-person view at all though, I want to renovate with a Sims-looking user interface and point of view. My problem with Sims is that I don’t want to spend so much money on DLCs while the base game is kind of too minimal. This can partly be fixed with user-created content but handling that stuff looks too cumbersome for me. There’s a lot of furniture, walls, floor, tapestries, and whatnot in The Tenants already and you can unlock loads of more while playing. This is exactly what I want and I’m sure it’s going to be even better if the developers add an option to use Steam Workshop for user-created content. So yes, I rather spend my time with furniture than with people.
In renovation jobs, the customer always tells what kind of room they want, with what kind of furniture, plus what kind of prestige they are looking for. During these 30 hours I’ve played there’s been enough variance on these jobs and especially the rare special jobs are cool: I have renovated for example a tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist’s tiny spy van and a huge combination of speakeasy and drug lab. Like the ones before there are some adult themes in the game and some themes don’t vibe that well. For example the three-sided talent tree you put points into while leveling up in the game: One branch is to boost your uncle Steve, who is your avatar for cleaning up apartments before the renovation, one is for money and marketing and one is for handling your tenants. The last one gives you a bunch of tools to gift and bribe your tenants but also to pester them. I have to say that even if my tenants would be troublesome and annoying, sending them a diarrhea inducing cookies or a skunk would feel a bit too much.
Even if the landlord part of the game is a bit dull and off-putting, I think the game is worth checking out if you like to build and renovate. It’s an (almost) perfect something to do while listening to podcasts or music.
Publisher: Frozen District
Developer: Ancient Forge Studio
Release Date: 25th of March 2021 (Early Access)
Genres: Life Sim, Sandbox, Casual
PEGI: Not yet rated
Pictures are screenshots from the game, taken by the author.