Navigating the hiccups and hardships of our daily lives can take its toll. And many of our frustrations stem from a lack of control over what life sends our way. So, what if we could flip the table and be in full control for once? There lies the appeal of life simulation games. Compared to the outer space expeditions of science-fiction games, the premise of life sims can seem a bit stale. But there is something strangely addictive about the freedom of living another life on screen. Besides, the genre is much more varied than meets the eye. From chill farming simulators to meditative puzzle games, let’s check out some of the greatest life sims out there.
Taking upon the classic Harvest Moon series, Stardew Valley has long eclipsed its predecessor. Developed single-handedly by Eric Barone, this farming sim is one of the most successful indie games in history. Your farming journey kicks off as your character quits their soul-deadening office job to settle on the farm of their late grandfather. So, develop your farming business by growing seasonal crops, making enough profit to buy cattle or expand your home.
Besides gardening and caring for your animals, you may explore the nearby Pelican Town and beyond. From socializing with the town folks to fighting monsters in the local mine and going on fishing trips to the exotic Fern Islands, you’re off to a packed schedule. And with so many activities at the ready, this cozy life sim boasts an insane replay value.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Grab a ticket and fly to a tropical island, far removed from the exhausting concerns of your daily life. Released in 2020, the latest installment in the Animal Crossing franchise came out at just the right time to give gamers a much-needed virtual escape. Fast-forward to 2022, and this Nintendo classic has just become the best-selling game ever in Japan. Landing on a deserted island, the player-character sets on building a full-on paradise. New mechanics like terraforming make it easy to let your imagination run loose.
When you’re not busy beautifying your island, you may as well visit your fellow villagers, fish exotic species to donate to your local museum, or take a casual walk around. While New Horizons doesn’t pack as much content as New Leaf, several updates have added fan-favorite activities like swimming and cooking. What’s more, seasonal festivals and events keep this real-time game fresh throughout the year.
The Sims 3
Pointing the best game out of the Sims franchise boils down to personal preferences. Millennials may revisit the original Sims with a hint of nostalgia, while hardcore fans might rank The Sims 2 above all other installments. But The Sims 3 is an all-rounder. The third game in the series that pushed customization to new heights. A seamless open world also changed the game, introducing creative neighborhoods and fun locations like a flashy arcade.
Unlike minigames in RPGs like Fallout or GTA, though, players cannot actually play the games. Thankfully, online games now cater to gamers from all over the world. Even in countries with no brick-and-mortar venues like Thailand, gamers have access to games like online roulette, known in Thai as รูเล็ตออนไลน์. Many variations are a click away, such as classic European and American games. Tips and strategies also help first-timers hone their skills. Plus, users can claim lofty rewards and bonuses to keep it going. And even if the freely available The Sims 4 lacks any sort of gaming den, game fans may play nonetheless with a special game mod.
With no timers or scores, this zen indie title is the perfect contemplative break. Half block-fitting puzzle, half decoration game, Unpacking puts you in the shoes of a protagonist going through multiple house moves. Every time the character settles in a new home, you are tasked with pulling their possessions out of boxes and placing them as you see fit. Going from a single child room to an entire house, each of eight stages represents a milestone in the protagonist’s life.
While you never actually see the face of this unknown character, nor know anything about their story except what their belongings tell you, Unpacking gives you a sense of intimacy in a way few life sims have pulled off. And a soothing soundtrack by BAFTA award-winning composer Jeff van Dyck only elevates this meditative and emotionally-gripping life simulation game.