Developer: ala pixel LLC
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Of all the mundane, everyday roles to make a simulation of, landlord is one of the most empowering. While managing the living spaces of finicky tenants can be a pain, what’s more boss than collecting rent and owning property? PixelMogul conveys this feeling well, but it brings over a little too much of the mundane, too.

pixelmogul 3In PixelMogul, would-be landlords are given a cool $5 million and are let loose upon the unsuspecting real estate market. After purchasing their first property, players choose interiors for the different apartments and begin signing leases with new tenants. From there on out the goal is to keep tenants happy by responding to their different needs almost like in The Sims. Wealthier tenants are willing to pay more for a renovated room, while more frugal ones demand a lower rent. Other tenants will even ask for adorable pets or friendly robots. Making the wrong move will visibly anger tenants, but mistakes can easily be undone. Besides, if a tenant isn’t working out, just evict them and find a new one.

As players earn more money they can buy more buildings, repeat the cycle, and increase their level. Leveling-up gives them access to new parts of the map, interiors, and bonus customizable elements like pools and band rooms for their buildings. They could just spend real money to purchase these things, as well as speed up renovations, but being patient somehow feels truer to the landlord experience.

pixelmogul 5However, what also feels true to the landlord experience is how unfortunately rote PixelMogul can get. Buying more buildings to collect rent from more tenants to buy more buildings sounds like a pretty satisfying feedback loop. But it’s also very short and straightforward. The game would benefit from a better variety of things to do. Meanwhile, the pixelated artwork is charming in the daytime (the game changes weather based on the device’s clock), but at night the world becomes a depressing urban grey and the chunky square figures become difficult to differentiate. However, the music stays nice and peppy throughout.

PixelMogul faithfully captures the fun of being a landlord, but it carries over some of the boring baggage as well. At least real landlords actually earn real money.

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