Ever since Little Computer People launched in 1985 on the Commodore 64, we’ve fancied the power fantasy of being either an absolute dictator or a loving monarch in charge of all their subjects and their wellbeing (or in some cases, destruction.)
Sims. Sims-Likes. Sims Like Games
Life simulation, as a subgenre of simulation games, has evolved vastly as all things do, and we’ve arrived at the best life sim product to ever exist: the fourth installment in a franchise running since 2000, The Sims 4.
What The Sims and today’s best games like Sims bring to the table is the representation of all those years of evolution and showcases it in a way that we haven’t ever seen before.
After developer Will Wright lost his home during the ‘91 firestorm in Oakland, the loss inspired him to make a ‘virtual doll house’.
It is fascinating that something so spectacular was born out of such misery but ain’t that just how it works?
On a lighter note, since the first release, The Sims took the world by storm, with a lot of game-changing innovations including the introduction of mechanics such as their own currency (Simoleons) and their own language (Simlish), and even their own nation (SimNation).
Extremely ironic for characters who seem to have the same amount of autonomy over bodily functions as an infant, but that is exactly what makes this franchise so endearing.
Whilst these kinds of ideas weren’t necessarily unheard of, the fact that so much time and effort was taken to give virtual characters such identity is one of the strongest aspects of the franchise.
My Time at Portia is a rich, large-scale open world life simulator with elements of RPG, a brilliant story, and world-building.
Released in 2019, this cartoonish, optimistic take on the post-apocalyptic world trope is a breath of fresh air in everything that it does and manages to accomplish.
The story and main hook of the game are fairly simple, money and prestige driving you to make the city of Portia a better place with each brick that you lay, and every house and bridge you build.
The impressive mechanics are supported by the charm of the overall world among the various things that you can craft, harvest, and build.
My Time at Portia keeps you hooked with its progression system, with your crafting leading to better materials and better tools, making life easier in the quaint little rural town.
Along with that, the building commissions that you get as assignments do an excellent job of giving you context, content, motivation, and prerogative to explore the world, find, harvest, craft, and build.
On top of that, the little intricacies such as kicking trees to get special items and finding interesting NPC dialogue choices will keep you busy.
The game, however, doesn’t come without its faults. The relationship system does allow you to have multiple meaningful relationships (platonic or otherwise) with the citizens of Portia, but the initial relationship-building is a hefty little chore to go through.
The boss encounters are lazy and unpolished, with the bosses largely being only damage sponges that give you no sense of accomplishment when defeated.
All in all, for a life sim with so many different elements working together, My Time At Portia is surprisingly detailed and full of love.
Developer/Publisher: Pathea Games/Team 17
Release Date: 15th January 2019
Platforms: PC,PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS
For a title that is an RPG at its core trying to maintain the nostalgia of old 16-bit games, Stardew Valley is an incredibly valiant effort by one man to put as much charm and detail into the life sim subgenre as humanly possible.
If you find yourself lumbering away from Mick Gordon’s hack-n-slash clutches and instead, looking for a relaxing end to the day, look no further than Stardew Valley.
It’s a nice little uncomplicated story of a guy fed up with the monotonous ups and downs of his bustling workplace and the environment that he is in and the escape that brings him to the farmland that is Stardew Valley.
With the huge stretch of land that he inherits from his grandfather, the guy hopes to accomplish all that he can.
Obviously, the classic farming elements are all present here; seeing your land for the first time, getting used to the crop system and the controls, meeting the townsfolk, doing odd jobs, and running errands, everything.
The visual style of the game does a lot for it as well. The quaint, minimalistic art design is perfect for a game of this type, and the soundtrack is excellent.
All in perfect synergy with each other.
Again, no game is perfect. But Stardew Valley isn’t one of those you pick apart for design, sound, and art choices for hours on end.
What you should do here for hours on end, however, is get lost in all the beauty that it has, all that it offers, and all that it presents itself to be.
This is one of the simplest games similar to Sims you’ll ever come by.
For a farming and life sim game to be this anticipated and voraciously consumed is a testament to the fact that this kind of market does exist and holds a lot of weight.
But a look below the surface will tell you that the trifecta of addiction, charm, and relaxation always works.
And Animal Crossing: NH is more than charming, addicting, and relaxing.
A variety of mechanics with an excellent reward system make it yet another family-friendly superhit in Nintendo’s amazing collection.
At the start of the game, you obviously create your own custom character who is dropped on an expansive island to explore at your leisure.
This incredibly stale gameplay loop is then expanded upon with materials, activities, characters to interact with and story beats to deal with.
Apart from that, every single activity in AC:NH makes you look at the game from a different, enjoyable and chilled-out perspective.
Whether you want to fish, harvest, collect cool items, materials, or just want to roam around, and talk to the NPCs in the game, Animal Crossing has you covered.
Slowly growing a desolate island to an entire colony filled with interesting things to see and do is something that we all desire, and Nintendo has managed to scale that down to a packed experience that is new on each and every turn that you take.
Sadly, despite being life sim games around, it’s a Switch only.
While the mainline entries in this critically and commercially acclaimed series from Bethesda focus on a protagonist journeying through a post-nuclear war wasteland with branching storylines full of violence, adventure, and distrust, Fallout Shelter is a game that focuses on one aspect of the lore of the series: The Vaults.
The plot of the game (and that’s being liberal with the definition of a plot) is that you are the overseer or administrator of a Vault-Tec vault, designed to protect and serve humans in the aftermath of a nuclear war.
There are various types of vault dwellers, and it is your job to keep them healthy, happy, and motivated to keep the vault and its operations running.
With the retro-inspired classic Fallout look, the inventory, item and currency management system, and the gameplay loop of constantly creating new units and dwellers to expand your vault, Fallout Shelter is great for spending some hours killing time on your phone while you wait for more urgent matters to attend to.
Although there’s a little bit of action here and there, what with you sending dwellers out to forage for resources, the gameplay largely does not change once you’re up and running with a handful of people in your vault.
On top of that, the microtransaction system rears its ugly head as of course it’s a mobile game, and the game has been kept successfully mundane without paying for them as a result.
Fallout Shelter is one of the best simulator games online available on Android and iOS other than PCs and the PS4.
Developer/Publisher: Bethesda Game Studios, Behaviour Interactive/Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 14th June 2015
Platforms: Android, iOS, PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Truly a game without a set limit, Cities: Skylines presents itself with a lot of depth and interesting reward/punish mechanics for the various choices that the player makes.
This 2015 title from developers Colossal Order presents you with the same age-old challenge of building an establishment from the ground up.
But like we mentioned before, the surprising amount of depth and detail in this game makes and keeps the gameplay loop fascinating for the hours upon hours that you will be spending building a landmass with an ever-increasing population.
As soon as you begin the landscaping of your dream city, problems start to arise in the health and happiness of your subje– ahem, citizens.
Building a city, from laying down roads to building entire industries capable of self-sustenance, is an extremely simple and straightforward process.
But as you spend more time inside this fictional world, you start to unravel some of the things that can make gameplay punishing.
On top of that, Skyline mods do exist in this game and can make your experience rewarding with regard to the time that you spend developing your metropolis.
All in all, Cities: Skylines is a great effort at a modulated experience and a fresh perspective on Sims and Simcities, and you should definitely give it a go if city sims are your thing.
Every one of us at a point in time wanted to be famous, doing exciting things and earning off it.
If you’ve wanted to experience what it would be like to build a following in the world of video entertainment in the modern age, Youtubers’ Life is your best bet at it, no pun intended.
The game as usual starts you off with creating your own soon-to-be-famous unassuming average Joe and follows your journey to making them the next PewDiePie.
Unlike the PewDiePie-sponsored Tuber Simulator, however, this title has more intrinsic depth to it, with a lot of mechanics for you to balance to get the most out of your time spent here.
These include real-life responsibilities such as having actual chores and getting warnings from your parents about skipping school, Youtubers’ Life is a fun, light-hearted, and incredibly detailed take on the ups and downs of a career in online entertainment.
Besides all that, the game requires you to manage your time effectively between hunger and thirst (obviously) and the actual video creation takes place in a card-based minigame format, allowing you to entertain and build your career while managing your cards and editing your ‘clips’ in a puzzle format.
As time passes, you can recruit your companions to make videos with and for you, as well as a scoring system which, while being basic, is pretty helpful in deciding what your next video will require to go viral.
This is one of the best games like Sims you can play with a singular goal but with just as many tasks and variables to keep you at it!
Developer/Publisher: U-play Online/U-play Online
Release Date: 2nd February 2017
Platforms: PC, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Given that this is only an element that made the Sims the behemoth that it is now, House Flipper builds on…well, building houses, designing and customizing them, and the overall decor to make it your very own.
Games like Sims have a notorious reputation for driving you to be a perfectionist DIY maniac, and House Flipper is no different.
The absolute amount of stuff that you can do is only offset by how hooked you can get to this game, and the answer is plenty.
Buying, repairing, remodeling, and decorating houses is all that you do in the game, but that is a very surface-level overview of the game.
You start as a construction worker taking on odd jobs and errands around the block. As your gameplay progresses, so do your projects, with you taking on more challenging assignments with more things to discover and interact with.
House Flipper does come with its own frustrations, however.
There is a progress bar for each menial job that requires a continuous process, and you’ll get to a point where there’s arbitrary pixels requiring your attention and are very well hidden.
For example, you’ll have cleaned the room, but there’ll be that little bit of dirt that will be hard to see and hinder your progress, and painting will be one panel of the wall at a time unless you buy upgrades for it.
Also, there’s a curious case of every single house missing radiators for some reason. Hmm.
Developer/Publisher: Frozen District/PlayWay S.A.
Release Date: 17th May 2018
Platforms: PC, MacOS, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Often, movie-licensed games (and vice-versa) are horrid affairs, being simple cash grabs with little to no ‘game’.
But Jurassic World is a pleasantly surprising business sim in which the primary objective is to build, manage, expand, develop, and attract customers to your ideal Jurassic park(s).
Aside from a lazy Jeff Goldblum narration, however, the game actually has some of the most impressive and detailed dinosaurs that we’ve ever seen.
The 42 different species do come with their own idiosyncrasies, unique models, and gameplay, but the lack of flying and swimming dinos is a clear knock against this effort.
Moving on, the gameplay is nice, with a somewhat even balance of challenge and reward.
Building your park and paving the way for visitors to come see your Jurassic masterpiece is simple but engaging, with the only viable resource being the power that must be provided to every facility.
What is fascinating, however, is the lack of actual tension in-game. Sure, you can get close, take pictures of your dinos, and tranquilize rampagers for fun, but there’s no moment where it is a fight or flight. The lack of such a mechanic in a Jurassic game is truly baffling.
However, if you want to have a good time building your favorite parks and recreating some limited scenes from the movie, Jurassic World Evolution is your best bet.
If you ever dreamed about being a doctor in your earlier years and treating some truly wacky diseases that your toddler brain created, Two Point Hospital is the perfect game for you.
The spiritual successor to Theme Hospital doesn’t disappoint in the thing that it does and doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t.
The mechanics, as with all games like sims, aren’t rocket science, at least up until you reach a certain level of complexity.
Even then, the game isn’t that debilitating either, as Two Point Hospital has a smart way of arming you to multitask with the speed of light once you get familiar with the simplistic controls.
The challenge grows as you expand and more patients with some really funny diseases come in, and if you know how to solve their various problems and the game’s own challenges, then you’ll have a fun time with this lovingly created sim.
Alongside that, some gameplay mechanics will lead you to realize how much depth lies under this charming art style.
Hiring the correct type of professional will reward you with more credibility and will consequently increase your profit, among various other things.
A must-buy if you can fall in love with the core loop.
Developer/Publisher: Two Point Studios/Sega
Release Date: 30th August 2018
Platforms: PC, MacOS, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Remember Zoo Tycoon? If you do, then Planet Zoo will get remarkably close to your heart in no time.
The 2019 release from developers Frontier Developments not only encourages you to capture, look at and put animals on display but also teaches you about the preservation and conservation of wildlife, making the whole experience extremely enjoyable without being morally ambiguous.
The well-balanced economy system and life-like portrayal of animals are the main attractions of the game, while praise can also be directed towards its variety in the aforementioned fauna and sandbox.
It also has an interesting way of keeping you hooked, with animals having their own specific habitats, levels of sustenance, and emotions, driving you to maintain the complex gameplay loop with little to no respite.
There’s not a lot to say when it comes to the ‘bad’. But any game with this level of customization and mechanic depth is not everyone’s cup of tea.
But if you can view the customization for the freedom that it provides, you’re probably already really good at sim games and don’t need us to tell you to go buy Planet Zoo.
The title is a handful, we know. But if you ever wanted to experience a throwback, you might just find it on your old 3DS lying around somewhere gathering dust.
This underrated Nintendo classic combines a farming sim with a dungeon crawler and carries every little bit of fun from both of those genres, including some charm of its own.
While it’s not the most complete RPG, it does not need to be, because the expansive story and chill gameplay make sure that every minute you spend inside this fictional world is worthwhile.
You play as a prince from another world who is thrown into an otherworldly place and must fight his way back across the 30-hour long campaign.
With a Final Fantasy style tactical flavor, the game manages to keep you hooked, and if you decide to go off the beaten path to play it as purely a farming sim, the game has sufficient freedom to allow you to do that as well.
An old-school game like Sims, a classic in its own right.
If you ever get tired of building your dream life in the fictional world of the Sims, there’s more fantastic choices for you out there to explore. We’ve just listed some of our best games like Sims. Have fun!
Q. Is there a game like Sims for adults?
Games like Sims for adults without necessarily coming with strict parental advisory messages would be Kenshi and Rimworld. Although these are not really games that echo the fundamental mechanics of the Sims, they do come quite close to it and are good at it as well.
Q. Is there a game better than Sims?
Few games are better than Sims while trying to be like Sims. But there are a ton of other simulation games that are good in their genre and sub-genre. From RTS warfare simulation games like Age of Empires or casual life sim arcades like Animal Crossing, these games can be considered better than Sims in the gameplay on offer.
Q. Are there online games like Sims?
There are several hugely popular online games like Sims. Topping the list would be Second Life and IMVU, both offering avatar-building mechanics and MMO features for a virtual social sphere. Or you can simply play Sims Online!
Q. Is there a kid-friendly Sims?
There is no dedicated Sims version or mod that’s targeted towards making it kid-friendly, however, all Sims versions are kid-friendly in every aspect. Sims can be a bit overwhelming for a kid, or even addictive, altering the basic perspective and affecting a child’s social skills. On that note, perhaps it’s not kid-friendly after all. But that follows for almost any simulation video game!