Life simulation games like The Sims give us a chance to live vicariously through our digital avatars, dictating their relationships, hobbies, careers, social interactions, and much more.
Having been around for three decades, The Sims has gained a loyal army of fans who are always on the lookout for the next installment, add-on, or piece of DLC.
And while there have been numerous iterations of The Sims throughout the years, if you’re a die-hard fan, chances are you’ve seen and done it all. In that case, it may be time to check out some new games that scratch the same itch.
Here, we’ll be highlighting the best games like The Sims to play in 2021.
Many of these games are either directly influenced by The Sims or explore similar ideas. Make sure to check back as we continue to update this list with new entries.
Lastly, while you’re here, consider reading through our other curated lists for more gaming recommendations:
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Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing has always had a lot in common with The Sims when it comes to tone and gameplay. The latest entry, New Horizons, kicks things up a notch by introducing a crafting system and island terraforming, allowing players to create personalized towns filled with custom paths, rivers, cliffs, forests, gardens, and more.
Like The Sims, the game offers the ability to customize your character and decorate your home with handpicked furniture. Although it’s slightly more structured than The Sims, with the end goal being to pay off your debt to Tom Nook, the game encourages you to take things at your own pace.
Additionally, if you’re a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber, you can travel to friends’ islands to exchange items and hangout.
My Time at Portia
Developer: Pathea Games
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
If you prefer games with a lot of variety, then you may enjoy Pathea Games’ open-world RPG My Time At Portia. In it, you play as the new resident of Portia, a historic coastal village with the potential to become a thriving city. The game presents players with a plethora of daily activities to keep busy, including fishing, farming, mining, crafting, and cooking.
Each task is wonderfully woven into an open-ended narrative that encourages you to collaborate and build relationships with the residents of Portia. Objectives range from crafting a specific gadget to make life easier, to harvesting new crops for neighbors in need.
Just like in The Sims, players have the option to customize their character, decorate their home, get married, and even have children.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, iOS, Android
Inspired by the beloved Harvest Moon games, Stardew Valley is a farming sim RPG that offers players a relaxing experience on par with playing The Sims. In it, you create your own character and set out to bring your grandfather’s old farm back to life by planting and selling crops until you ultimately expand into other areas such as ranching, wine-making, baking, etc.
The game features a day/night cycle that encourages you to plan out your daily activities ahead of time, whether that’s exploring mines, talking to neighbors, tending crops, or just hanging out at the local bar.
The citizens of Stardew have distinct personalities that allow you to form unique relationships with each character, creating a sense of community that can leave a lasting impression on the player.
Developer: Sean Young
Developer: Sean Young – Platform: PC
Littlewood is another retro-style 2D game that may appeal to fans of The Sims. In it, you play as a hero who loses their memory after defeating a Dark Wizard and restoring peace to the village of Littlewood.
The game tasks you with rebuilding Littlewood its former glory by venturing out into the vast world of Solemn to gather resources and recruit new residents.
As you explore the magical forests, bustling fishing towns, and mysterious mining caves that make up Solemn, you’ll encounter a host of characters with unique motivations.
Littlewood also offers a variety of hobbies and crafts to take up, such as farming, fishing, merchanting, and more. Resources you gather are used to modify the look and layout of the land, with the player given creative freedom to build up Littlewood in their own vision.
Two Point Hospital
Developer: Two Point Studios
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
While The Sims 4 Careers expansion gave us a chance to play doctor, Two Point Hospital hones in on the many challenges that come with not only treating patients but managing an entire network of hospitals.
Players are tasked with hiring staff, properly training them to use medical equipment, decorating offices and public spaces, and passing routine inspections.
The game manages to keep things light by skipping right past all the tedious paperwork and instead throws you in with the sharks, or rather patients, who come in suffering from a wide array of ridiculous illnesses, maladies, and diseases.
For example, ‘Lightheadedness’ causes a person’s head to turn into a light bulb. To treat it, you’ll need to have a trained physician unscrew the bulb from their body before attaching a brand-new 3D-printed cranium.
Developer: Colossal Order Ltd.
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
If you’re a fan of classic city builders like SimCity, then you’ll probably have fun deciding the fate of your residents in Cities: Skylines. The game assigns you to the role of Mayor before asking you to construct your very own metropolis from the ground up using intuitive tools and features that still allow for more advanced playstyles.
With control over things like education, natural resources, policing, healthcare, and more, you can create a perfect little utopian society or bring about a modern-day apocalypse.
Just like The Sims, the joy of Cities: Skyline comes from feeling like a virtual god with the ability to bend every NPC to your will. Whether you use your power for good or evil is ultimately your decision.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Developer: Prideful Sloth
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of taking your Sim beyond the confines of modern civilization to visit enchanted new lands. If so, Yonder offers a vibrant open-world game filled with unique environments and a diverse bunch of NPCs to befriend.
The story sees you seeking out magical creatures called Sprites that have the power to rid the world of a nasty poison called Murk that’s plaguing the land.
While it may be more narrative-driven than The Sims, it features an array of life sim systems and gameplay mechanics to explore. Your character is able to take up different jobs to learn new skills, build farmland throughout the world, make friends by completing favors, and even adopt animal companions.
Like many of the other games on this list, Yonder benefits from its laid-back approach to gameplay and progression.
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
One of the most significant parts of playing The Sims is designing and decorating your own home. And while The Sims 4 features arguably the best building tools in the series to date, there are a couple of other simulation games with equally, if not better, approaches to DIY construction.
House Flipper serves both as a parody of home-renovation TV shows and a legit house flipping simulation game.
In it, you purchase and sell virtual properties in hopes of making a profit. However, before homes can be ‘flipped,’ you’ll have to apply a bit of elbow grease to make them appealing for potential buyers.
Players who are serious about their investment can go the extra mile to demolish walls, repaint rooms, and decorate homes with new appliances and furniture.
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, iOS, Android
Even those who aren’t well versed in the lore-heavy world of the Fallout series can find enjoyment in Bethesda’s free-to-play base builder. Fallout Shelter gives players the title of Vault Overseer, an all-seeing entity tasked with designing a secure bunker to keep its inhabitants safe in a post-apocalyptic world.
You’ll manage resources, build research facilities, and keep your dwellers happy by meeting their basic needs.
While there are some RPG mechanics involved, such as unique character stats and traits, they’re pretty easy to maneuver around. In fact, the game is very flexible when it comes to making mistakes and even encourages you to take risks for the betterment of your underground civilization.
If you’ve ever wanted to alter the course of humanity and squash giant radioactive bugs along the way, this is the game for you.
Oxygen Not Included
Developer: Klei Entertainment
If Fallout Shelter’s post-apocalyptic setting a bit too grim for your liking, you could always try your hand at managing a space colony. Oxygen Not Included is a challenging base builder that sees you guiding a group of astronauts as they try to survive beneath the surface of an alien planet.
As its title suggests, oxygen is exceptionally scarce, meaning you’ll frequently have to take measures to maintain a steady supply of the stuff.
Where things get tricky is the high potential for disaster, as your colony continually finds itself at the mercy of its environment. Temperatures can rapidly rise or fall, pollution can build up quickly, and the mental states of your colonists will continuously change.
Despite its steep learning curve, the game allows you to form your own unique playstyle as you decide your base’s layout, choice of power source, and more.
Developer: Frontier Developments
Planet Zoo is an excellent Sims alternative for animal lovers who have always dreamed of opening up their own zoo. The game sees you caring for a wide range of species with different diets, habitats, and social needs that have to be addressed on a day to day basis. There are multiple modes of play to explore that are tailored for different experiences.
You can play as a single character and follow them through a life-long zookeeping career or become a franchiser, in charge of overseeing an entire location.
Additionally, you can put your animal skills to the test in challenge mode or get creative with unlimited building. If that all sounds like your cup of tea, maybe check out Frontier Developments other management sim games, which include Planet Coaster and Jurassic World Evolution.
Developer: Lazy Bear Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Android
If you’ve always wanted to play The Sims as the grim reaper, Graveyard Keeper is about as close as you’re going to get. Described as a “medieval cemetery management sim,” the game sees you running a graveyard operation that eventually expands into other optional fields.
You can stick to burying bodies in the ground, or start cashing in on all that extra meat by selling remains to the local butcher.
If it wasn’t apparent by now, the game is brimming with dark humor. At times, you may find yourself having to cut costs just to keep the business afloat.
This can lead to tough moral decisions like whether you invest time and resources in quality ingredients for potions or use whatever you can find in nearby caves and creeks, possibly poisoning the entire village in the process.
Colony Survival is an indie city management sim that’s best described as a cross between The Sims and Minecraft. Played from a first-person perspective, the game sees you starting with a humble colony that eventually grows into a thriving community of residents with various jobs and access to technological advancements.
In addition to making sure your citizens stay productive, you’ll sometimes have to defend your town from invading monsters. If you’re successful enough, one day you’ll be able to send your colonists out to establish new settlements and discover new resources.
The game features an interesting blend of exploration, crafting, and management sim gameplay that makes it stand out from other games on this list.
Developer: Alex Massé
Paralives is an upcoming life sim that’s already proving to be a lot more ambitious than any Sims entry we’ve seen before. Despite being made by a small team of indie developers, the game is set to include a host of features fans have been requesting from The Sims for years.
The main highlights include fully customizable buildings/furniture, an in-depth character creator, more complex character AI, drivable vehicles, and much more.
In Paralives, players can create unique characters and homes using streamlined tools that also allow for fine-tune adjustments. You’ll manage your avatar’s day to day activities not only at home but outside in the game’s open-world.
Nearby towns will feature various shops, parks, workplaces where you can meet up with other players and have fun.
Office Management 101
Made in the image of classic tycoon games, Office Management 101 is an upcoming business sim with satirical undertones. In it, players take on the role of CEO for a brand-new consumer electronics company, building the office from the ground up into a thriving corporation.
You’re responsible for hiring employees, designing office layouts, and above all, ensuring the company makes money.
The game is focused on managing employee productivity and social interactions and provides you with all the necessary tools to create your very own little capitalist dystopia.
Like The Sims, characters are customizable and possess distinct personalities that dictate how successful they’ll be in their position. For anyone interested, there’s currently an alpha build demo available for download.