In a world of cheap plastic tat, there’s something special about finding old junk/treasure and restoring it to its former glory. It’s why shows like Salvage Hunters, The Repair Shop and American Pickers are so popular. Alas, most of us don’t have the know-how, or more importantly the big van to make a go of it in the real world—but we hardly need it now that Repair House exists.
It’s the next game by Claudiu Kiss, the creator of PC Building Simulator, though it has swapped motherboards for floorboards, benchmarking for an actual workbench, and graphics cards for vintage games consoles. You’ll be restoring antiques for clients, but you’ll also be restoring a house, turning it from a scruffy, run-down dump of a place into a trendy home filled with vintage furniture and bric-a-brac. Talk about a busman’s holiday.
Just as you made and modified rigs in PC Building Simulator, so you’ll tinker with things in Repair House—a much wider range of things than high-end computers. Retro hardware fans will be in their element fixing up arcade machines and games consoles, and making sure the springy bits are working in pinball machines. But you’re a multi-talented fixer-upper, capable of restoring myriad items including musical instruments, vintage toys and even industrial parts.
The bulk of the game will take place in your house and workshop, with the player accepting jobs as they come in over a suitably old-fashioned landline. The trailer shows you sandblasting a vintage guitar, spray-painting an arcade machine, and installing new parts on a toy train engine, but whatever the action you’re performing, it all looks pleasingly tactile.
Broken items will need to be disassembled, as you delicately remove each component, before replacing the faulty element and putting it all back together. However, sometimes the item just needs a bloody good wash. Sandblast, clean and repaint that rather dingy-looking antique, then pop it in a cardboard box to complete the order. You’ll be rewarded with experience points and an influx of cash.
If only it was so easy to make a living and afford a big house by getting into the salvage game in real life, but Repair House promises to be an escapist and relaxing alternative. Cash and experience can be used to purchase home decorations or additional space in the house. You can even unlock new locations to rummage around in.
This is perhaps the most intriguing element of Repair House, as it seems to speak directly to the TV shows we mentioned earlier. The best part of American Pickers is seeing the presenters climb into piles of rusty history, risking tetanus as they uncover an ancient bicycle or movie poster in a cluttered barn. Similarly, there’s the vicarious thrill of seeing a mystery lot being opened in Storage Hunters—before the bidders invariably get into a fight outside it. Is that a classic car under that tarpaulin, or just some boxes that have been suggestively arranged? That ventriloquist’s dummy has to be worth something, right?
Well, you’ll be able to visit both location types, and scour them for loot, in Repair House—and they function very similarly to those TV shows. As in Pickers, you’ll get your hands dirty in cluttered barns, rummaging around in boxes and barrels for rare items. You’ll then have to haggle with the owner to try and get the most bang for your buck.
Meanwhile—as in Storage Hunters—you’ll peer in at lots from a distance, before you decide whether to make a bid, against a ticking clock. Of course, you won’t know if you’ve wasted your money until you finally crack the lot open. Have you walked away with a hoard of treasure, or a pile of garbage?
You can also hit up an auction house, to bid on items in a more traditional way, or head to the flea market to pick up second-hand bargains. Interestingly, some of the items you’ll find in there will be incomplete, and missing pieces—you’ll need to root them out in other locations, or receive them as part of jobs, to repair the item.
Of course, what you do with the treasures you purchase is up to you. Restore a guitar to pristine condition and you can sell it for a profit—but can you really bear to part with such an exquisite piece? It just might be the perfect thing to hang on the wall of your lounge. Ah, the classic salvage hunter’s dilemma.
Speaking of your house—yep, you get a whole house, yours to restore and customise as you see fit. It’s a big step up from the small workshop of PC Building Simulator, giving you a large space that can be expanded even further with additional storage and display areas as you unlock them. Are you building a workshop, a home or a museum? Why not all three?
Repairing/tidying games have become a big thing since the original PC Building Simulator, but Quantum Logic Games’ Repair House is looking to stand out by doing, well, everything. You can hunt for antiques, repair them for clients, or proudly display them in your very own home—a home that you can spruce up to your liking. If that sounds up your street, you can check out the Steam page, or follow @RepairHouseGame on Twitter, while we wait for the game to launch sometime next year.
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Tom loves exploring in games, whether it’s going the wrong way in a platformer or burgling an apartment in Deus Ex. His favourite game worlds—Stalker, Dark Souls, Thief—have an atmosphere you could wallop with a blackjack. He enjoys horror, adventure, puzzle games and RPGs, and played the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII with a translated script he printed off from the internet. Tom has been writing about free games for PC Gamer since 2012. If he were packing for a desert island, he’d take his giant Columbo boxset and a laptop stuffed with PuzzleScript games.