Do you enjoy playing video games as a form of escapism? As a place where you can leave the expected norms and rules of the real world behind and venture off into fantastical lands? If that’s you, then you might want to look into The Tenants.
Recently released on PC, The Tenants is a management game where you play as a landlord, with the entire point being that you are constantly working on your buildings and interacting with tenants’ needs. Constructing improvements, fixing things, buying new furniture, and just generally making sure everything is fine and everyone is OK.
As anyone who has ever rented a place to live in [checks civilization] most places these days would know, even Skyrim is more realistic than this. In the US there’s a “rental crisis,” caused by everything from soaring income inequality to real estate speculation to AirBnB madness, while here in Australia there’s, uh, also a “rental crisis” causes by...soaring income inequality and real estate speculation.
A realistic game about being a landlord, then, would involve you being the most disgusting piece of shit on the planet, someone more than happy to charge you over half your monthly pay for a roach-infested apartment with damp walls and mushrooms growing out of the bathroom floor. You’d be penalised for undertaking repairs, and answering a tenant’s phone call would result in instant death.
Thankfully, by taking a less realistic tone, The Tenants is pretty fun! Sitting somewhere between a building management game (ala the Two Point series) and The Sims, you not only have to spend loads of time placing furniture, making repairs and arranging stuff (for both residential and commercial properties), but also have to deal with neighbours, cops, loud music, drugs, neighbourhood thugs, and your actual tenants as well.
There are two game modes to play, one that’s just sandbox and the other a more campaign style experience. Like most of these games, you’ll invariably spend more time in the former, agonising for hours over where exactly you’re going to put that couch and what colour tiles you’re putting in the bathroom.
I have a couple of favourite things about the game. One is its item placement system, which is a joy to use (items squeeze and pop and slide around wonderfully). The other is the fact that it has two content filters on startup, one to remove drugs from the game, the other to remove bugs. Not software bugs, actual bugs.
My least favourite things are that you spend the entire time playing this game doing fun and cheerful tasks, two things that actual landlords absolutely do not deserve to be associated with, and that as cool as the renovations and building work can be, the tone of the game can sometimes still be a bit...off.
The Tenants is out now on Steam.