homeimprov.jpg

We've all been there before. Just gotten home with a new piece of furniture that requires assembly. We all open that box, searching for instructions that will give us some sort of hint at how to combine these twenty pieces into something that resembles furniture. Looking through the box, we wonder where the instructions could be. Did they not put instructions in our box? After a few moments of frustrating and frantic searching, we come to the realization that the picture on the front of the box is as close as we are going to get to instructions, and we move on from there. This, in a nutshell, is Home Improvisation.

To be completely honest, I had no idea what to expect when I first booted up Home Improvisation. The game initially described itself as a game where you had to assemble furniture while only having access to a picture of it. Quickly enough, I realized that this "picture" was located on top of the box that the pieces come in, and that once you begin assembling the furniture you lose access to it. This led to some very interesting gameplay that required memory and patience.

As of right now, there are three rooms to assemble furniture in, each with unique pieces. I began my journey in the dining room, where I was greeted with a simple (or so it seemed) chair to assemble. After taking a look at the box for a few minutes, I felt like I had a good grasp on what the chair looked like, and was ready to move on. Forty-five minutes later, I had a chair with four crooked legs, a backwards back support, and an uncomfortably-angled seat. Although the chair was not perfect by any means, it was my chair. I had assembled it, and I felt accomplished regardless of the fact that it would cause back issues after more than two minutes of being seated in it.

homeimprov2.jpg

Assembling the furniture is actually quite simple, in terms of the gameplay mechanics. Using a controller, however, seemed to really dampen the experience, and made it very difficult to accurately rotate an object. As a result, I highly recommend mouse-and-keyboard, unless of course you are planning on playing the local multiplayer mode. The game requires you to rotate the pieces of the furniture until they are aligned, and this takes quite a bit of precision. There isn't much assistance when it comes to getting it to be the right angle, so it's important to get it as close as possible.

If you manage to mess up a piece of furniture entirely, which was definitely something I did many times, you can use some of the tools provided to get yourself out of the jam. My most used tool was the mallet, which allows you to separate two connected pieces. This is great for when you place pieces at the wrong angle, or don't place them in the correct order. Other tools include the paint brush, which allows you to change the color of the furniture as well as some of the walls of the rooms you are in, to really customize your dream house (if you're dream house was filled with poorly-assembled furniture, of course). Other tools include a drill and a peg gun, which allow you to add those features which are often missing from furniture assembly. Does a piece need a hole, but somehow not already have one? Grab the drill and fix it up!

homeimprov3.jpg

After you "successfully" assemble a piece of furniture, you will get to choose your next piece from a selection of two (from what I've seen so far). Going for the easy pieces is not something that exists. Each and every piece of furniture in Home Improvisation provides its own unique challenge, and it's really one of the best parts of the game. Whether it be a table, lamp, chair, or desk, there are going to be different obstacles to overcome during the assembly process of each piece.

While the charm of the game may be lost on some, I found the humor and outright absurdity of the game to be refreshing. While some gimmick games such as I Am Bread become tiring very quickly, I feel that Home Improvisation has enough challenge to keep me interested for a lengthy period of time. I'm a huge fan of puzzlers, and I really felt like that was what I was playing the entire time.

homeimprov4.jpg

Grabbing a few friends makes the experience all the more enjoyable. Currently up to 4 players are supported locally. I've never expected to call a friend and tell him to come over to play a game about building furniture, but alas, it has been done. Each player gets their own cursor, and can control their own pieces independently. This means that the group troll will have a field day disassembling and incorrectly rotating pieces of furniture. This also means that the OCD member of the group will yell at everyone else for not having the pieces line up perfectly. Either way, Home Improvisation is an extremely enjoyable game to have some co-op fun with.

Finally, the game features a challenge mode. This mode presents you with a trophy and challenges you to build the highest piece of furniture possible and get the trophy as high off the ground as you can. I didn't mess with this mode too much, as I was enjoying the normal furniture building. However, this will be a great way for those leaderboard-lovers to get their name to the top.

homeimprov6.jpg

Home Improvisation is a game about building furniture. It is really that simple. However, the challenge that the game provides is intriguing and compelling, and kept me locked in for hours. Bring in a few friends and you have an extremely fun party game. Completing a piece of furniture provides a feeling of success that cannot be beaten, even if it is crooked and deformed. All in all, Home Improvisation is a great way to procrastinate building that actual bookshelf by building a virtual one instead. Why assemble the living room in real life when I can assemble an entire virtual house? With the way VR is heading, Home Improvisation may be onto something, and just in case, I am going to prepare my virtual dream home right now.

Home Improvisation is currently available on Steam Early Access for $9.99.