Barn Finders is one of those games you find in the bowels of Steam during a late-night browse and the next thing you know you're hopped on Red Bull cleaning a blow-up doll you find in some guy's attic in the hopes of making a profit. The game sets you up as the owner of a second-hand store, and the only way to fill it is to go to abandoned properties and search through cupboards, sheds, and dingy rooms in the hope of discovering some trash that will turn out to be another man's treasure. Think House Flipper, but the opposite of aspirational.
As you progress you can upgrade your shop with nicer flooring and displays, buy new tools like shovels to dig up promising-looking piles of dirt, and set up repair and cleaning stations to make your finds shiny and new again. Once things are installed in your shop, people will come to browse and you'll soon be haggling over old paintings in the hope of adding a few dollars to the price. This is also around the time when things get weird.
Alligator rafts and skeletons
There's someone who looks like an X-Files reject who'll come and hang around the store, all government-issued suit and strange questions. There's a small guy or who may or may not be an alien. The properties start to take on a sinister turn, a house in a swamp with alligators you have to ride to get to, a boathouse that leads you on a merry dance to build a totem pole, a storage unit filled with skeletons. It's bizarre and random and tonally all over the place, but the little hits of madness only add to the undeniable satisfaction of it all.
It should be noted that this isn't a good looking game, everything looks like it was found in the bargain bin of some game creation assets store, your house auction competitors and customers look like weird androids – although, with this game, that could actually just be a plot point I haven't encountered yet – and you'll find yourself discovering the same items over and over again. But for some reason that even I can't understand, that doesn't make it any less addictive.
Taxidermy and toilet paper
There's a simple joy to be found in rifling through someone's cupboards, hoping for a big win. Even when a room seems bare the game is smart enough to equip you with a hammer and the ability to smash things up for parts or to recycle them for a small cash bonus. Even the most mundane doorway could hide a switch that leads you to a hidden garage – cars are the really big cash item when it comes to the store – or a special item you've been commissioned to find. All games are now legally obligated to come with some sort of collectible, so there are plenty of those too. Expect to find new decor options for your store, old posters, and – as an indicator of the humor level to be expected – golden toilet paper.
This game is never going to win a BAFTA, or be the sort of thing someone takes loving screenshots of to decorate their Twitter feed, but it is one of those weird little curiosities that will haunt your hard drive, pulling you back in when all those big blockbuster games or intellectual nuanced indie games feel a bit too much. In five years' time, you might think back to it and wonder if it was a strange whiskey dream, and find yourself searching on Youtube to check it really existed, but for right now, it's a weird and absorbing way to live another – very weird – life.