Homescapes – decent, but in need of tweaks and improvements

Homescapes is a free-to-play match-three puzzle home-decoration simulation video game developed and published by Playrix in 2017. This single-player game is a Gardenscapes spin-off, available on macOS, Android, iOS, and Amazon Appstore.

The gameplay follows the same premise as the original game and the same protagonist – Austin the Butler. Hence, it’s a match-three puzzle concept, but this time the player has to renovate and decorate a mansion and its rooms instead of a garden.

Like its predecessor, Homescapes gained instant popularity, reaching seven million downloads in one week. In the same month of its release, the game hit another milestone: 28 million downloads. Homescapes was the fourth most downloaded game on iOS in October 2017 and the eighth on Android.

Although it gained a lot of attention, the game still received less favorable critics than Gardenscapes due to not feeling good enough. The problem is, Homescapes offers virtually the same experience but in a different environment. However, it was still the 14th most popular Google Play game in 2019.

But not everything went that smoothly for Homescapes. In 2019 and 2020, the game was at the center of criticism and controversies due to ads that depict inaccurate gameplay. That started a petition called Stop false mobile game advertising, and as a result, the Advertising Standards Authority banned Homescapes and Gardscapes due to showing misleading storylines in ads.

The story in Homescapes follows Austin the Butler who comes back to the home where he spent his childhood but finds ruins instead of the house he remembers. Austin also discovers that his parents are considering selling the mansion, which he refuses to accept.

Because of that, he decides to do what he does best and restore the home he loves so much. In this spin-off, Austin meets new people and creates connections, but he also catches up with people from his past.

During this renovation adventure, he has a mission to restore his bedroom, kitchen, main hall, party room, and seven more rooms. But there’s more Austin might decide to work on, including the lake house and various areas.

Overall, Homescapes has entertaining content that positions this entry as a worthy addition to the series. It is heart-warming, relaxing, and enjoyable. But is it better than Gardenscapes? What does make it unique?

Like you, we were curious and had to play it to see how we would feel about this spin-off. Here is what we thought.

Improves the graphics, maintains the level of difficulty

Homescapes stays faithful to Gardnescape’s proven formula. The gameplay includes two sections, the one that centers around home restoration and decoration, and the other is about match-three puzzles.

The first one is full of new characters who enrich the story and make it more dynamic. Thus, you get unique goals you should achieve leading Austin through this adventure. However, that is more or less optional whether you decide to follow these objectives.

Yet, you will likely enjoy the process of deciding on new home wallpapers and furniture to create an environment in the style you want.

Even though the mansion is similar to the one players saw in Gardenscapes, Homescapes improves the visuals and adds variety. Thanks to that, you will encounter various colors, details, and items you can place around the house.

Thus, one can get attached to Austin in this entry with more ease due to seeing him interacting with more characters, including his parents and old friends. Playrix gave more depth to this protagonist by introducing more subtle actions that give Austin life.

Like in Gardenscapes, the match-three puzzle games are inevitable. Hence, when not working on the house restoration or following Austin as he goes about his day, you will spend time lining up the puzzles.

Homescapes also uses stars as the in-game currency, and after you pass each level, you earn a star and a few coins. If you played Gardenscapes, you might recognize the same formula – you will spend one start on replacing a carpet, for example. However, some repairs require more than one, making these challenges more intense.

Moreover, you can use coins to purchase household appliances or power-ups that you need in match-three levels. But this is the part that makes Homescapes different than Gardenscapes. Although you will still have similar goals, power-ups are different, as well as a few tiles.

If you line up four or more akin tiles in a column or row, you will also get a mightier rocket that can pass the board in its entirety. But you can also match the elements in squares, creating a paper airplane. With this, you can remove random tiles with objectives.

Thus, instead of the Rainbow Blast that you might have seen in Gardenscapes, here, you will find Rainbow Ball that appears after lining up five elements in a row. Thanks to this, you can remove all the tiles with the same color, which is a powerful new feature.

In Homescapes, you can reach and collect more distant elements, thanks to the new additions. But despite various improvements, the level of difficulty players experienced in Gardenscapes remains in this entry.

But while its predecessor becomes challenging after a while, Homescapes reaches that intensity pretty quickly. The game introduces various obstacles, such as double chains. Because of that, you might find yourself repeating the same stages many times.

Moreover, Homescapes offers fewer bonus chances. In this entry, there is no daily wheel that allows additional boosters. The game is also more pricey if you want to purchase coins and complete tasks faster.

On the other side, visuals and graphics are ahead of their predecessor concerning quality. But, another downside to Homescape is that it often starts updates that seem to be loading infinitely, triggering players to lose their patience and abandon the game.

A great choice for those that finished Gardenscapes

Homescapes has various enhancements compared to its predecessor. It is why those that loved Gardenscapes but finished the game and want more of it should give this entry a try.

However, newbies who love match-three puzzles and home renovations might have more fun and fewer challenges with Gardenscapes.

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