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Building Relationships is A Short Hike, but you are trying to chat up toy houses

Get a Bungaload of this

A talking house with two wings being a bit of a dom in Building Relationships
Image credit: Tan Ant Games

Picture a himbo tent. Now, see if you can get your mind around the concept of a flirtatious windmill. What exactly are the key architectural qualities of dwellings you might wish to go to bed with? Actually, don’t bother stretching your grey matter – you can just play Building Relationships, which is sort of A Short Hike but also, Love Island for anthropomorphic toy houses. There are demos on Itch and Steam. Be warned that you will be asked whether you’re a rooftop or a bottom floor.

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I played a bit of Building Relationships at the Day Of The Devs booth at Summer Game Fest last week. That particular booth is a smear of half-memories, because the organisers asked us to play five games inside an hour, and this being Day Of The Devs, it was a regular cornucopia of concepts, styles and subject matters. I went from playing While Waiting, a game about occupying your mind while you’re waiting, to After Love EP, a game about death, grief and rock music, to UFO50, which is 50 games that together form a mosaic of meta-gaming mystery. Also Phoenix Springs, a dystopian adventure notable for a clipped English voiceover so dispassionate I stepped away feeling dehydrated. Write-ups for those to follow once I've worked out where one game ended and the next began.

Building Relationships stands out the most in hindsight because it felt the most at ease in its own skin and also, because it's not every day you get to chat up a small apartment building. (I personally wouldn't date an apartment building because all the ones I've lived in had mold, but this one had a certain forlorn charisma, reminiscent of that friend who's too busy pairing off everybody else to find love himself.) It's a pocket open worlder with boisterous katamari physics in which you bounce about fluttering your curtains at bungalows and completing very simple quests, such as fishing (in this case, for cars). It is a game wholly invested in the act of enjoying a pun, which is surely the definition of a promising first date. It has pleasantly daft writing, blossoming biomes that remind me of Proteus a bit, and some amusing camera angle choices during conversation.

Building Relationships is the debut Steam release of Tanat Boozayaangool, who is also the creator of sinister trivia games and visual novels about not being able to sleep. Here is a little excerpt from the developer’s web page: "There's a joy in absurdity, suspending all levels of disbelief and immersing yourself in the wildest world. And there you'll find the most human story, anchoring the most ridiculous narrative."

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