The Sims franchise has been an incredible success since its release in the early 2000s and to this day there haven’t been any real competitors. Despite The Sims being truly one of a kind, the life simulation genre is alive and well. In The Sims, you can create your own character (known as a “Sim”), build a home for your Sim, interact with other Sims, and live out the life you want-the possibilities are endless. Players orchestrate the mundane daily activities of their Sims and their success is dependent upon the players’ decisions. While nothing can truly match the full Sims experience, here are just a few games we think you’ll enjoy if you like The Sims.
It’s also worth noting that you can play The Sims 4 for free, so if you’re just looking for the latest Sims game, that’s your best bet.
Stardew Valley comes first to mind since it hits all of the right notes in a life simulator game. Stardew Valley is a charming town with plenty to do but focuses primarily on enjoying your character’s life to the fullest by becoming a successful farmer in a pixelated countryside. Besides farming, there’s endless freedom in your day-to-day activities: building up the farm, decorating your home, woo’ing the resident characters, beating up monsters in the nearby caves, fishing, and so much more. This RPG has so many elements and secrets to keep yourself occupied. It even has an achievement system, so if you’re the type of player who enjoys completing everything there is to do in a game, this is for you. The developer, ConcernedApe, has constantly updated the game since its release so there’s always fresh content to explore with a thriving modding community as well to keep the game alive.
Stardew Valley creator Eric Baron has also revealed his next game to be Haunted Chocolatier, which should have a similar feel.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
This simulation game lets you take up residence on a completely deserted island where you can build a home of your dreams with several decorating options that are unlocked through gameplay. You can gift items and personalized letters to the villagers on your island, friends and family, and celebrate any holiday with multiplayer gameplay. Once you progress through the story quests, you will unlock terraforming which will allow you to shape cliffs and water, allowing you to create an island truly of your dreams. But what made Animal Crossing: New Horizons so special during the beginning of the pandemic was the daily tasks: completing the Critterpedia by catching bugs and fish, crafting DIY recipes, improving your home, and so much more.
SimCity is the most dated in this list, the first game releasing a long time ago, but you can still play it easily enough on a desktop PC. In this simulator game, you play the mayor, and you can choose to build a world-class city complete with stadiums, airports, universities, and more. While you can’t control your Sims directly, everything you do impacts their lives, and it’s up to you to create a city free from natural disasters and commuter hell. So while you can’t trap your Sim in a pool or in a room with a stove that’s lit on fire, you can choose to let your Sims live the life of their dreams in a perfect metropolis or create a city in which they’ll regret moving to.
Just like SimCity, this simulator focuses more on building a metropolis for your Sims to live in rather than controlling your Sims directly. However, Cities: Skylines is a newer game (released in 2015) and, like The Sims, has had a steady and ongoing stream of new DLC and base game updates. Even better, the modding community (PC exclusive) has continued to churn out amazing content, offering everything from custom assets for buildings and vehicles, gameplay adjustments to increase (or reduce!) realism in the simulation, and even bug fixes to improve performance. Players can engage in urban planning by controlling zoning, road placement, taxation, public services, and public transportation of an area. If building and designing is your thing, then this simulator is for you. It’s astonishing what you can build in this game; in fact, you can build replicas of real-life cities if you so desire. If you’re too overwhelmed with controlling Sims and would rather build a city from the ground-up, then this one is for you.
Rumor has it, Cities: Skylines 2 might be coming our way soon.
If managing a household in the Sims is too easy, you might enjoy managing an entire zoo instead! Planet Zoo is the modern successor to Planet Coast and Zoo Tycoon which were really popular around the same time as The Sims and The Sims 2. In Planet Zoo, you can build a zoo from scratch, complete with animal exhibits, food stalls, and managing staff to work at your zoo. The staff at your zoo will gain experience as they become better at their jobs and they have a needs meter just like in the Sims. There are several modes for which you can play each with their own set of unique challenges: career mode, franchise mode, sandbox mode, and challenge mode.
House Flipper takes everything you love about decorating in The Sims and Animal Crossing and throws it all together into one game. You can schedule clients and renovate their homes based on a budget, with milestones to learn new skills like installing ceiling lamps and replacing broken appliances along the way. Eventually, you can make enough money from working with clients to purchase your own homes and give them complete renovations to sell at a profit.
The new House Flipper 2 is scheduled to release in Q3 of 2023.
Disney Dreamlight Valley
This life simulation game features powerful customization tools that let you create the perfect character, the perfect home, and the perfect town. There are multiple hobbies to explore like fishing, gardening, and foraging for materials to use in their crafting. Although, you do have to complete a few quests to get the essentials unlocked — including a lot of Dreamlight Valley recipes.
If you’re familiar with the Sims characters and lore, you’ll be happy to know that Bella Goth makes an appearance in Dreamlight Valley. Since Disney is a family-friendly franchise that caters to small children as well as adults, it’s safe to say that Disney Dreamlight Valley does not allow you to build romantic relationships, get married, or have children. This is an aspect of The Sims that is completely nonexistent in Dreamlight Valley.