Become the greatest villain of all time – a landlord. That was my first thought when booting up The Tenants, a simulation game centred around, to no one’s surprise, being a landlord. At least mostly. Personally, I feel simulation games like this can either fall into the category of being unremarkable and nothing you haven’t seen before, or something new and fresh that reels you in. For the most part, The Tenants falls into the latter category, and I will dive into why.
Firstly, The Tenants essentially revolves around you building up your property empire and moving to new districts. However it’s not just a case of spying on your troublesome tenants, you also take on other jobs such as renovating properties, finding tenants for clients, and looking after other landlords’ tenants while they’re away. I can’t recall a time that I have played a simulation game like this that is so insanely in-depth, there is a lot to consider and look at when playing.
Before heading further into the review, I wanted to mention that I originally started playing The Tenants in Early Access and I was pleased to see that the developers, Ancient Forge Studio, were incredibly receptive to feedback as I noticed there were regular updates before the full release. Even in Early Access, The Tenants felt incredibly complete, well-crafted and polished. Even now that the full game has been released, I noticed that it is still being updated and improved by the development team, so hats off to them!
Before starting the playthrough, you can choose between a Landlord and Creative game mode, with the former acting as the basic playthrough and the latter doing what it says on the tin by letting you focus on the creative renovation projects without the hassle of time management. For the sake of the review, my playthrough of The Tenants was in the Landlord mode. There are so many tools and options available to you, it’d honestly take up the entire review if I went through them all in detail! As briefly mentioned, there are different job options in your job book that you can carry out to earn some extra money alongside your tenants’ rent and the main story which includes babysitting by looking after other landlords’ tenants, renovation projects, and finding new tenants to fit requirements for other landlords during Open House events. By completing these jobs, you receive reviews from the clients which also help you progress to the next level and unlock extra rewards. Once you level up, you can use the skill tree to unlock additional perks and tools to make tasks quicker or easier. These fall under three categories – Tenants, Landlord, and Uncle (who carries out a lot of tasks on your behalf).
The Tenants offers you a plethora of tasks to get on with at your own pace as well as some figuring it out as you go, but I found this left me feeling a bit lost at times and unsure of how to efficiently complete tasks as I found I was still on some main story objectives for what seemed like a crazy amount of time. Another element I never wrapped my head around was the preferred prestige system, I never really understood its purpose or how it worked. It is possible I simply missed the tutorial on this section, but I personally never found it to be explained. For these reasons, I wish there were some prompts or ‘tips’ to just keep you reassured and reminded. That being said, you can easily spend hours playing as you become hooked on new jobs coming through and other tasks, there is plenty to do. However, I can also see The Tenants becoming quite repetitive after a while as some specific jobs are virtually identical.
I encountered very few bugs or glitches during my playthrough, but the only gameplay issues I did have included finding that some items wouldn’t register that I put them down when completing a renovation job. This happened when I was placing an amp in the band room renovation. I also found that some level-ups were very slow loading, I would have thought the game had frozen if everything else had stopped moving, but this is only a minor issue. I also found that I got stuck on the following camera, I literally had no idea how to switch it off until I started another job.
As for the titular tenants aspect, I found that they are incredibly detailed and you have plenty of options to interact and increase or decrease your relationship and their satisfaction with the property. You are able to sabotage, reward, or offer services to tenants to impact their relationships and happiness. You can also monitor their likes, dislikes and personal information such as their age, personality, occupation and salary which are all important when making their requested changes to their property. A large portion of The Tenants sees you tending to your tenants’ needs to ensure that they are happy and pay their rent on time. You can also gauge their characters such as if they never pay their rent on time or are up to suspicious activities. No joke, one of my tenants ended up cooking meth in the apartment, I didn’t know I was playing a Breaking Bad game. The only thing regarding tenants is that I found it weird that you couldn’t add furniture to the room once tenants moved in so the apartments can look very bare at the start. I also encountered what could be a bug, but once one of my tenants moved out, I couldn’t then get another roommate as the other tenant still lived there, which seemed bizarre.
As for the renovating aspect, it is quite detailed! The building menu and all the renovation parts felt a lot like The Sims, in fact, the building menu looked almost identical. When initially cleaning the apartments before renovating, I liked that you could form a queue so you don’t have to wait while Uncle clears or fixes every item. You are also very proactive in this as you can have the chance to restore or scrap them. When renovating, there are lots of options so you can get very creative as you work to hit the requirements laid out on the right-hand side of the screen. This also means you have to budget, plan the space, and pay attention to the likes and dislikes of the client. These projects feel very relaxing and satisfying once you completely transform a space, it very much feels like a great escape from reality. As noted, the renovation projects are surprisingly detailed as you have to install utilities such as water, electricity and heating in order to complete the task, which I feel can get overlooked in games like this. You can also add additional features to your properties such as security cameras, a TV service, internet, and more, which may have consequences if they are absent. Also available are elite contracts which can gain you access to special items, rewards and usually, a much higher pay. But as I mentioned, renovation contracts do get somewhat repetitive.
There isn’t much of a story in The Tenants as it’s centred around you building up your property empire and going to new districts. In other words, it’s the gameplay and life simulation features that preside over the game. As for visuals and sound aspects, I loved the unique block-like design of the characters without them looking like old-school pixels. The music was unobtrusive and seemed fitting for The Tenants‘ upbeat nature. The only minor criticism I have of the visuals was that I did spot some weird animations going on sometimes when characters interact, but I expect any issues will be ironed out considering how on top of the game the developers have been.
Overall, if you like The Sims and renovation, management or design games, you’ll love this one due to its vast number of tools and features. There’s plenty to sink your teeth into!
Holly reviewed The Tenants on PC with a review key.