We all love The Sims. That feeling of fulfillment that comes from leading your tiny virtual family to a happier life is almost as wonderful as the feeling of fulfillment that comes from trapping your tiny virtual family in a room with no doors and starting a fire. Don't pretend you never did that, I know your secrets.
Undoubtedly The Best Games Like The Sims
Sometimes though, even #TheSims isn't enough. Maybe you have to go traveling and want something portable, or you're looking for something more in-depth, or your computer exploded from the 8,000 or so expansion pacs that Maxis has released for the series so far.
So for those of you needing something a little bit different, a little bit grander or a little bit weirder, I've got eight games for you to check out that are, in their own ways, like The Sims.
1. 'Dream House Days'
- Developer: Kairosoft
- Publisher: Kairosoft
- Platforms: iOS, Android
Kairosoft are one of the best life sim and management game makers around. Any of their adorable pixel-art mobile games could scratch your sims itch in different ways. Their subject matter ranges from running your own mall, to breeding race horses, to being the head of a game development company.
For my money though, if you're really looking for the closest experience to The Sims that you can find from Kairosoft, you should look at Dream House Days, an apartment management sim that lets you get really down and gritty into the lives of your little guys. The game includes surprisingly deep mechanics, including an in-depth stat system, pets and the ability to furnish your apartment to your different tenants's needs.
Try this if... You wondered what would happen if a mad scientists bred together a Sim and a Tamagotchi.
2. 'Animal Crossing: New Leaf'
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developers: Monolith Soft, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development
- Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Possibly the cutest game in terms of graphics on this list, Animal Crossing: New Leaf puts you in the shoes of the mayor of a town of cuddly cartoon animals. Many of the things you love about The Sims are in this game: customizable homes, stylish outfits and plenty of social fun. The game also includes a town-sim portion, where villagers will move in and out of town over time and you can collect funds to build new bridges, parks and other public works.
If you've got a few friends playing as well, it's possible to visit each other's villages, or even just view the creations of people in the street with the #Nintendo #3DS street pass feature, which adds a neat little social dimension to the game.
Try this if... You want a chilling message of the evils of the capitalist class as represented by a cute raccoon.
3. 'Stardew Valley'
- Developer: Eric Barone
- Publisher: Chucklefish Games
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Wii U, Linux, Macintosh operating systems
#StardewValley starts out slightly slow, with the gritty business of clearing out and planting your farm taking up the first few seasons. Once the first hurdles are clear however, this game opens up into one of the deepest and most fulfilling life and farming simulators around. Explore the town and countryside, delve into old mines and caves, engage in local festivals, meet your perfect match and start a family, there's a ton to do in Stardew Valley and it's all oddly serene and relaxing.
The characters are one of the places where Stardew Valley shines over The Sims. The locals are deep and fleshed out, with their own motivations, back-stories and goals. It takes a while to befriend them too, you can't just find one or two effective choices and hammer them over and over in one night to make them fall in love with you like certain people did in The Sims (it was me, I was the certain people).
Try this if... You got a little too obsessed with the gardening and fishing skills in later Sims games.
4. 'Cities: Skyline'
- Developer: Colossal Order
- Publisher: Paradox Interactive
- Platforms: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, Macintosh operating systems
If you were the kind of person who ignored the social side of The Sims for that sweet, sweet feeling of control and creation that came from building and managing your own home, you might want to take things macro with Cities: Skyline. After the disappointment of Maxis's bungled sequel Sim City 2013, Colossal rode in to the rescue with its own city building simulator, and boy is it good.
Cities: Skyline may not scratch that itch for seducing your neighbor's husband and destroying their family (or raising a happy child or whatever it is normal people do in The Sims,) but the feeling of satisfaction that arises from watching your city grow and thrive is something very familiar to those of us who've loved The Sims series.
Try this if... Your family starved while you built the perfect home.
5. 'Hatoful Boyfriend'
- Developers: PigeoNation Inc., Mediatonic (remake)
- Publishers: MIST[PSI]PRESS, Devolver Digital (remake)
- Platforms: Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
On the other end of the spectrum, if relationships were your thing in The Sims, try Hatoful Boyfriend. This game is a delightful dating simulator that has you dating and flirting with a diverse array of... birds. Yes, you heard that right, you play as the only human in a school filled with intelligent birds.
The game has a hilarious tongue-in-cheek take on the visual novel genre, and the characters are surprisingly well written for a bunch of birds. There's also a hidden secret path that's as long as the main game itself, which completely changes the genre of the story.
Try this if... You come up with some really in-depth plots about those two pigeons in the park near your house.
6. 'Kudos 2'
- Developer: Positech Games
- Publisher: Positech Games
- Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems
If you played The Sims and thought it needed to be even more deep and complex in its mechanics, then Kudos 2 may be the game for you. With a more considered, turn-based structure and a choice system so thought-out that hanging out with a friend for long enough makes their personality rub off on you. Kudos 2 feels like what would happen if an obsessive Sims fan made a Sims game.
The game also features art by indie comic artist and illustrator Jamie McKelvie, which gives the game its own unique aesthetic and a slight feeling that you might be playing Sims in the hipster universe.
Try this if... You used to play The Sims while watching The OC at the same time.
7. 'Crusader Kings 2'
- Developer: Paradox Development Studio
- Publisher: Paradox Interactive
- Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems
Speaking of incredibly in-depth, Crusader Kings 2 is an insanely deep dynasty simulator. If you loved the feeling of choice and the experience of watching your family grow and change over the generations, you'll love Crusader Kings 2. Every choice you make in this turn-based game determines the fate of your dynasty, from whether your son will end up in a good marriage to whether the Duchess you have overseeing your estates in The French alps will die of syphilis from an ill-advised affair.
Like many of Paradox Games's efforts, Crusader Kings 2 also has an incredibly devoted fanbase who love modding the game. Want to bring a bit of modern gender equality into things? You can do that. Want to play through the entirety of Game of Thrones and see if you can mess things up a lot less than the Starks? That's in there too.
Try this if... You thought the Goth family would be a lot more exciting with the possibility of an assassination plot.
8. 'Fallout Shelter'
- Developers: Bethesda Game Studios, Behaviour Interactive
- Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
- Platforms: Android, iOS, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Tired of the average, everyday life of The Sims? Sick of your two-story townhouse in the suburbs, where the most dangerous thing to happen is a kitchen fire from your own inability to microwave food? Well come on down to the world of the wasteland! In sunny, war-blasted post-apocalyptic America you can make a new start among the ruins of civilization.
Fallout Shelter is a spin-off mobile game based on the wildly popular Fallout series of post-apocalyptic RPGs. In Fallout Shelter, you control an entire bunker full of survivors. You must build facilities, manage resources, keep everyone happy and make sure the various catastrophes of the wasteland don't overwhelm your merry band of friends. It's a great way to scratch that Sims itch on your phone while also getting the opportunity to kill giant irradiated roaches with a gun that shoots railroad spikes.
9. 'Tomodachi Life/Miitomo'
- Developer: Nintendo Software Planning & Development
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Platform: Nintendo 3DS
For a Sims experience on the go, look no further than Tomodachi Life. Developed for the 3DS, Tomodachi Life lets you bring your Nintendo Mii to life, giving them a personality, home and friends in the little island of the game. A follow up game was released for the iOS and Android called Miitomo, which functions similarly but also works as a social app that lets you communicate with your friends by answering and asking questions to each other's Mii avatars.
The game mechanics are somewhat shallower than The Sims, but still pretty fun, especially with a recent update for Miitomo that added more to do. Plus, the voice synthesizer system in the game lets you do some really silly stuff with your Mii.
Try this if... You wished you could make your sims star in a music video where they sing about their own butt.