CHANGE: A Homeless Survival Experience – Tips and Tricks

Odds and ends, details and other assorted hints to help players at any level of the game.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Happiness is the most key bar to keep an eye on. If it hits zero, it’s Game Over!

It can be drained by rude people responding to your begging, cops telling you off, or a pair of mean people who stand around and snark when you pass by (unavoidable). You can also lose it thru different events, hunger hitting zero, low hygiene, being wet from the rain, and sleeping outside in general.

To raise happiness you use different consumable items, eat at a restaurant, eat at the bar or play pool at the bar, or have a positive interaction when begging.

  • Magazines can do it but sometimes also give you study or perk experience.
  • Juice gives 1 point
  • Soda gives 2 points but drains 15 hunger
  • Hot chocolate warms you up and gives you 1 point
  • Fruit gives 10 hunger and 1 point
  • Beer gives 14 points
  • Cigarettes give 12 points and is addictive
  • Chocolate (unlockable) for 18 hunger and 2 happiness
  • Spirits (unlockable) give 21 points and is addictive
  • Salad (unlockable) gives 2 points and 33 hunger
  • Cake (unlockable) gives 3 points and 70 hunger
  • Pillow gear item gives happiness when sleeping at a shelter.

Of special note is Bliss, available only via the Drug Dealer that lurks around. It costs $6 and keeps your happiness at full for a day, but it is horribly addictive and every day you go without you take a large happiness drain until you’re over the addiction.

I’m So Hungry

Hunger is the bar that raises and lowers the most readily and will be a constant thing to keep an eye on. If it drops too low you’ll start losing happiness, and happiness is key.

You can get free food from trash bins, but you run the risk of getting ill from it. You can prevent illness for a day with pills, or prevent your next illness (whenever it happens) with vitamins. When you unlock the clinic building you can go there to get cured for 3.99. Sometimes, with the right perks, you’ll pull food items from the trash that you can then eat right away or stash for when they’re needed.

Food items can be purchased from shops, but there’s no guarantee any given building will have any, and the prices can go up from a city event. Street vendors do not set up every day but when they do they offer the exact same food options as shops for a cheaper price, ignoring any price hikes.

The restaurant offers food and happiness. 100 food points and 8 happiness for $10, or a variable amount for $5. You can also ask for any leftovers, but I’ve personally yet to succeed at that.

The bar (an unlocked building) lets you in to eat, drink, and be merry for $5. You’ll get 0-25 happiness, 40 food, and come out drunk.

Along with all the scrap on the ground you can sometimes find food items. These items will respawn in the same place with some regularity, but should not be depended upon for meals.

Spending a night in a shelter will always grant some food, so checking in early can save you if you really need it, and there is a perk to increase the amount gained. Spending a night in jail will always fill your food meter, but you can only do that if your crime level is high enough.

The park sometimes has events that can result in food, and the picnic area allows you to beg once which will result in food items if successful.

You can trade with the homeless for various items, food will show up the most if you already have the gear. They’ll most often take beer or cigarettes, both of which can be pulled from trash bins if you’re lucky.

Food items include:

  • Hotdog for 65 points
  • Sandwich for 56 points
  • Energy Bar for 25 points and a day of increased walk speed
  • Sausage Roll for 42 points
  • Snack Bar for 28 points
  • Crisps for 20 points
  • Plain Bread for 100 points and -1 happiness
  • Fruit for 10 points and 1 happiness
  • Meal Deal for 85 points
  • Burger (unlockable) for 100 points
  • Salad (unlockable) for 33 points and 2 happiness
  • Fish n Chips (unlockable) for 100 points and -25 hygiene
  • Chocolate (unlockable) for 18 hunger and 2 happiness
  • Cake (unlockable) for 70 points and 3 happiness

Dirty Filthy Bum

Hygiene is the most important stat for how other people respond to you. If you stink you’re less likely to get money begging, and you can be barred from the library if your meter is too low.

Searching trash bins without a litter picker or thick gloves will always lower your hygiene. Some perks will give greater bin rewards at a cost of increased hygiene loss.

A scrap perk increases the value of scrap but gives a 1 point hygiene penalty for every piece picked up.

You can get yourself cleaned up for free inside a toilet, or at a water fountain on the street. If you do your laundry you’ll also get a full hygiene bar out of it. I recommend only doing your laundry when you get the Dirty Clothes malady that caps your hygiene meter at 50.

Hygiene Gear:

  • Soap, an unlockable, will prevent all hygiene decay for six hours after every wash.
  • Fresh Socks lower the base hygiene decay rate.
  • Fresh Underwear increases the efficacy of hygiene items.
  • Spare Top increases the time it takes for clothes to get dirty.
  • Toothbrush gives hygiene when you stay at a shelter.

Hygiene Consumables:

  • Wet wipes are a single use consumable that grants 50 points of hygiene immediately.
  • Bottled water gives 8 hunger and 15 hygiene.
  • Deodorant spray prevents ALL hygiene decay for two full days.
  • Sanitiser, an unlockable, prevents hygiene loss for the next 5 incidents that would reduce it. Must be activated by using it.
  • Shampoo, prevents hygiene loss for the next 2 incidents, auto-used.

Money Money Money

The safest way to earn money is to collect scrap and turn it in to be recycled. It can be found on the ground both in the background and foreground, sometimes hiding behind benches or trash cans or the trees that hide the bottom edge of the screen. There are a few perks that can adjust how much scrap you can carry and the value of it. Using a trash bag allows you to carry more and gives a bonus bagging fee when you turn it in, but it’s used up when you do so, so try to cram as much in there as possible! There’s also a book rental bonus from the library that ups the value of scrap and automatically collects it for you, so if you’re lucky enough to get it skip everything else and just run around!

Begging also gets you cash, and fast if you stack perks for it and get lucky with the weather. There’s a lot of options to tweak the best times of day and best status for you to have for successful begging and you’ll have to play around to find the best setup for your run. Begging in the rain always gives a better chance, as does begging with the dog. Beware doing it too near any other homeless who are loitering, they’ll get mad that you’re infringing on their territory and you’ll lose reputation.

A special person to beg from is a person who sometimes spawns who’s asking for donations for the homeless. I’ve never gotten less than $5 from them, so it’s always worth it if you see them! They never turn you down.

After you unlock the subway building you can hop on the train to enter a special begging section. You’re on the train and beg in general and either get some money or just irritate those around you. It costs $4 to get on the train but I’ve always had great success earning that back and more. Time moves normally while you’re down there, and when you get off you exit the same station you entered from.

Day labor requires finding a sign post and then standing around waiting for a truck to come by. It’s always legal, but always has a chance to injure you. Additionally, you may not actually get paid at the end of the day. If another homeless character is standing by the sign when a truck pulls up, they’ll undercut you and you’ll have to take a lower pay to get the job. Overall it’s risky and not much worth it unless you’re trying to avoid begging at all costs. There are perks that increase day labor wages and decrease risk percentage, however.

The actual Jobs building offers up a job to apply for each day with variable pay, and variable Study and Paperwork requirements to even apply. Application does not guarantee success, and you won’t find out if you got it until the next day. If you don’t get it, leave and re-enter the building to apply to a new job.

The Jobs building is closed the day after winter ends. It’s your day off if you’ve got a job, but you can’t apply to a new one that day.

All the jobs turn into a timer you simply wait out except for the daily paper selling job (which has the lowest requirements). That one runs off a variant of begging and seems to use the same perks and numbers to calculate sale success. The daily paper costs .50c to buy one and sells to the public for 1.75. Standard jobs have perks that can increase your pay or increase the odds of a good event happening, which can include a pay raise.

You can also pick up a guitar at a shop or via homeless trading and busk (play music on the street) by selecting it in your gear inventory. This opens up a minigame where you click floating notes to fill up a multiplier bar. Each fill up results in a small amount of money. It’s not a great way to earn cash unless you’re waiting for your job to start or a shelter to open for the night, but it is always perfectly legal and won’t piss off other homeless.

The Bank building will allow you to stash your cash to prevent losing it during a mugging event, but it requires having a residency at a shelter, and costs $5 to open an account. You can deposit and withdraw as much as you want as often as you want.

The Passage of Time

Time ticks ever onwards every moment you’re on the street. It pauses when you enter a building, interact with a street vendor, a vending machine, or a payphone, but the people on the sidewalk keep moving. That makes checking payphones a great way to wait for an officer to move off screen so you can get up to mischief.

Waiting for day labor at the white sign, doing a day labor job, doing a job at the job building, studying (at the library or with a textbook), having a meal at the restaurant, drinks at the bar, or sleeping on a bench all speed it along.

The Cops, Crimes, and You

The police are a constant source of potential unhappiness for the begging player. If a roaming officer sees you while you are begging, or digging through the trash after the appropriate city event has occurred, they will freeze you (while time continues, so watch out!) until they reach you and give you a reprimand. If you have the siren icon in the upper left, you’re out of chances and they’re going to kick you to a new (randomly generated) area.

There are perks that will change this situation, one will prevent them from moving you along so long as your crime level remains below 20, and one will give them a chance for kindness (giving you some change) if you’re below 15.

Watch out for stationed officers along the road, sometimes they’re hidden by parked cars. They’ll behave similar to patrolling officers but they yell from their post.

If you listen carefully there’s a little siren blip sound before a patrolling officer comes on screen, so keep an ear out! There’s a perk, as well, that gives you a siren icon on the side an officer is about to approach from.

Officers will not stop you from picking up scrap or checking phones for spare change, nor will they stop you from busking or sleeping on a bench (even with a cup or sign).

If you steal from a shop unsuccessfully you will get the ‘laying low’ debuff that will prevent you from entering a shop until the next day. There’s a perk that will allow you to attempt to steal from street vendors, but if you fail that in front of an officer you will immediately be taken to jail.

You can break into vehicles parked on the street and you will either get food, money, or steal the radio which can be traded with other homeless people either on the street or under the bridge in the park. It starts a timer that runs down to your successful break in, pedestrians will run off and potentially alert nearby police. An officer seeing this will result in an instant arrest. There are crime perks that can lower the time taken for a break in, and you can potentially get a rock for an instant (but loud) break in. There’s also a perk that means pedestrians no longer react to your attempt,.

For the extremely pyromaniacal popsicle, you can use a lighter to set a trash can on fire to warm up.

Jail isn’t the worst place in the world. It immediately ends the day (and skips winter) and you risk losing items, but it fills your hunger and hygiene and warms you up.

Helena Stamatina
About Helena Stamatina 2690 Articles
My first game was Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot (PlayStation) back in 1996. And since then gaming has been my main hobby. I turned my passion for gaming into a job by starting my first geek blog in 2009. When I’m not working on the site, I play mostly on my PlayStation. But I also love outdoor activities and especially skiing.

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