The past few months I have had a hankering for simulation games that would swallow me up and consume my time. I would attempt to play other games in the massive library me and my husband share but nothing interested me at all. I played games like Minecraft and Terraria which didn’t satiate my appetite, but I eventually found games that did help the boring ache I was experiencing. If you’re currently in a game slump like me, or are just needing something to sate your simulation game appetite, here are four simulation games you should play!
4. Zoo Tycoon
You haven’t even played this game yet and I can feel how much you already love it.
I didn’t get ahold of an Xbox One until a year after it had come out and Zoo Tycoon was the first game I ever played on it. I remember how delighted I was to be playing such a beautiful and completely enhanced version of this game compared to the little Zoo Tycoon I played on my Nintendo DS so many years ago. The latest Zoo Tycoon is an extremely pleasant and enveloping game that allows the player to create, fully customize, and manage their own zoo and make money from doing so. There are multiple ways you can play Zoo Tycoon, whether it be campaign mode, free-form mode, or challenge mode. Even though Zoo Tycoon 2 (released in 2004) also offered classic tycoon view and first person mode like the 2013 edition, what makes this newest release so much better is the updated graphics which makes the game that much more enjoyable and immersive. Wondering around your zoo and interacting with the animals in first person mode is a great experience; the animals are so charming due to how realistic they look and performing interactions with them, such as feeding them or spraying them with water, makes for a remarkable experience. You can even play Zoo Tycoon with up to four of your friends online in any of the game modes and create and manage a great zoo together.
There are a plethora of animals to choose from, and even more that you can only acquire through breeding your current animals. It’s also important to choose the right habitat for each animal to live in, the right stimulative objects such as toys or wading pools, and the correct food for each animal. Each exhibit will have a colored meter displaying the animals needs, such as their happiness, cleanliness, hunger and social interaction with other animals. There will be challenges to keep all of your animals needs-meter in the green zone (meaning they’re all happy) which can earn you fame and money by completing. Zoo Tycoon isn’t just all about animals, though, you also have to take care of the business side of things by bringing in customers with different advertisement campaigns and keeping the guests entertained and fed. One of the main reasons I love Zoo Tycoon so much is how there are so many ways to customize your zoo by placing your exhibits and attractions anywhere you want, what decoration themes you choose, the type of animals you bring to your zoo and what type of attractions or buildings you place. These new customization options add a great level of player creativity and expression not before seen in the series.
Every aspect of Zoo Tycoon just adds to the overall liveliness of the gameplay and the player experience. If you love animals and love strategic simulation games then you should definitely consider adding Zoo Tycoon to your gaming library! Zoo Tycoon is only available for Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
3. The Sims 4
Cancel/reschedule all of your plans, The Sims 4 is definitely going to take a few days or weeks of your time.
I can’t say how many hours I’ve poured into The Sims 4 since it’s initial release, but I know I’ve played it until my eyes were bloodshot and burning. If you have played any of the previous Sims game then you definitely know what I am talking about here. Since the base premise for all Sims games is well known and usually very similar to each other, I’ll just tell you why you should play The Sims 4 specifically. A few new unique features that have been changed include the ‘Create-a-Sim’ and ‘Build Mode’. Both modes have been redesigned to allow for a wider range of customization and versatility, such as being able to use your mouse to touch anywhere on a sims body to change the sizes and shapes of their features. Build mode is now even more simple to navigate and features have been added to help with building. If using the freestyle wall tool to make the entire house is too tedious, premade rooms of varying shapes can be placed and can be resized by dragging on any of the walls. Rooms and even the entire house can be picked up and moved or rotated around like regular objects in the game, making fixing placement mistakes way easier than before. Another cool feature is the ‘Magazine Catalogue’, available in build mode, which offers fully furnished rooms that can be placed to help interior decorating; you can also change the colors of the rooms or buy single furniture pieces!
A Sims addiction can be pretty pricey, though, there are several DLC and “stuff packs” that make the Sims 4 experience so much more immersive and unique such as the ‘Get To Work’ expansion and the ‘City Living’ expansions. In ‘Get to Work’ you have a couple of career options: Detective, Doctor, Scientist and Retail Business. With the ‘Get to Work‘ expansion players get to actually play the sim on the job, unlike before where you just send you sim off to work and speed up time until they come back. As a detective, you get to visit crime scenes, investigate and interrogate suspects, and solve crimes. As a doctor you diagnose and treat patients, you can perform surgery, and even deliver babies. As a scientist, you experience breakthroughs by analyzing metals, chemicals and get to a point where you can begin cloning and eventually visit an alien world. Lastly, you can join the retail business, where you can buy a plot of land and build your own shop or cafe! All of these jobs have ideal moods your sim should be in to perform their best; the jobs can also be stressful on you due to a number of goals that need to be met each day on the job along with very limited time. The Retail job is probably my favorite career choice, it’s more of an entrepreneurial choice in comparison to the other jobs you can choose from. You’re not restricted to a time schedule of work like the other choices you have, you can completely build and customize your store or restaurant, choose whatever items you want to sell, and close whenever you want. If you really wanted, you could create a home on the second floor of your store and live there so you never have to leave! There are also no daily work goals that need to be met in order to get any promotions for the retail career which can relieve a lot of stress.
The newest DLC ‘City Living’ is almost like an entire standalone Sims game with everything you can do; including an entire city map with 5 different districts filled with a variety of apartments to choose from, gyms, lounges, plazas, parks, shops, food carts and more that your sim can enjoy. Cultural festivals also take place around the city such as the ‘Geek Con’ for the nerdy sims, or the ‘Romance Festival’ for you and your sims significant other. A whole new aspect has been added to the way your sim lives with the addition of lot traits: what lot traits do is not only provide further customization, but they add varying effects that cam be positive or negative to your sim, they can create random events in your home, permanent boosts to your sim and gives an extra boost to overall gameplay. With ‘City Living‘ you don’t even have to play the base game anymore if you don’t want!
The Sims 4 definitely provides plenty of content to get lost in; even just customizing your sim and building/decorating your home can take a few hours of your day! Sadly, there are no console versions for The Sims 4 but it is available for Mac and PC on Origin.
2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a very fun and rewarding game with plenty of things to do!
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a real-time-based life simulation game that even goes by the real seasons. In ACNL you move to a new town where you become the mayor and the residents are all adorable anthropomorphic animals with varying personalities and quirks. There are around 300 anthropomorphic villagers that can move in and out of your town and you can have up to 10 villagers reside with you. As the mayor, you are in charge of town development and gaining citizen satisfaction, for town development projects you can choose from a list of items such as street lamps, benches, fountains… etc. This lets you completely customize your town and as you continue to play villagers will suggest even more town projects that will be added to your list to choose from. There are also town ordinances to choose from, based off of what you want for your town experience. You can only have one of these at a time and they affect the entire town, including; the beautiful town ordinance, which keeps flowers from wilting and weeds from growing, the bell bloom ordinance, which gives you more money for items you sell, and the night owl or early bird ordinances which affect how late or early the town shops open and close. There’s also a variety of flowers and fruit trees you can plant in your town, you can even create rare hybrid flowers by planting flowers near each other and making sure to water them multiple times a day.
Each morning the town “resets” and there will be various dig areas which are marked by a tiny x in the ground where you can find fossils and varying items, also shaking trees will drop bells (in game currency) and sometimes furniture. The museum in town allows for you to donate you dinosaur fossils that you dig up each day and you can slowly watch them all come together. Fishing and bug catching not only can make you a ton of money, but you can also donate you fish and bugs to the museum, along with artwork you can buy from an art dealer who will occasionally visit the town. As you develop the town more and sell and buy items from the shops on the main street, you will slowly open up more shops and upgrade your current ones. One of my most favorite parts about Animal Crossing is the house building and decorating! There’s just something about decorating homes that really draws me in (as you can tell, every game I listed had decorative aspects) and I feel like ACNL really makes home decorating so much fun. There are several upgrades you can make to your home which adds more rooms and floors and to make the rooms larger in size. You can purchase exterior designs for your roof, the walls, the pavement and the fencing. For interior decorating you can purchase items from Timmy and Tommy such as wallpapers, flooring, and furniture. In the recent DLC you can now order furniture from the campers at the campground and if you purchase the new welcome Amiibo cards there are tons of campers you can order from with all kinds of furniture. Since finding the items to create your dream home can be cumbersome, when it all finally comes together it’s a really rewarding feeling in the end!
There’s just so much to do in Animal Crossing: New Leaf and it’s not hard to get addicted, and you can also be addicted to ACNL with your friends because you can also visit each other’s towns, go fishing and bug catching and do island activities together! Although gameplay can be hindered by the fact that it is real time based, it’s still a great game to play a few hours a day in between playing other games and going about your daily life. ACNL is only available on the Nintendo 3DS.
1. Stardew Valley
If you’re tired of hearing about this wonderful game from everyone, then maybe you should just give in and play it!
I wanted to save the best for last and Stardew Valley is definitely worthy of being number one on my list. I honestly was hesitant to play at first because I was under the impression that Stardew Valley was only about taking care of crops and animals (I do not research games because I am lazy) but once I decided to spend the 15 dollars and I definitely did not regret it. Everyone that’s ever played Harvest Moon says Stardew Valley is the Harvest Moon everyone has always wanted, I have never played Harvest Moon but now I don’t think I will. Stardew Valley is “an open-ended country life RPG,” where you’ve left the boring life of working for ‘Joja Corporation’ and you begin taking care of the farm you’ve inherited from your grandfather. You have access to fully customize your character’s name, appearance, and gender, and you can also choose if you prefer cats or dogs. Then you have the ability to choose what kind of farm you would like depending on what skills you want to lean more towards during your gaming experience. There are 5 different types of farms to choose from, you have the standard farm which gives plenty of room for farming, the Riverland farm for plenty of fishing, the Forest Farm for foraging, the Hilltop Farm for mining, and the Wilderness Farm for more combat and beasts that come out at night. Whichever farm you choose is up to you, but no matter your decision you have access to fishing, foraging, mining and combat outside of your farm.
What really made Stardew Valley so addictive to me was just the sheer amount of things I could do. I spent hours setting up my farm and getting crops started, fishing, foraging and exploring so that I could make an income to start funding farm buildings and upgrades to my home and tools. I’ve probably spent the most time in the mines which has 120 floors; as you progress further you come across rarer gems and minerals and harder enemies. That’s not the end of the “dungeon-y” experience, though, reaching the 120th floor gives you access to the Skull Caverns which is an even harder version of the mines with infinite floors. A lot of the minerals and gems you may find can be donated to the museum along with artifacts and books that can be dug up around the town, you also get cool rewards for donating as well! Another fun aspect of Stardew Valley is the town community center, there you can collect certain items to complete bundles which help to restore the community center and gives access to previously inaccessible areas around town. It doesn’t feel lonely in Stardew Valley either, there are around 30 villagers that live in the town that you can become friends with or possibly marry, they will give you quests and even send you things in the mail such as food, supplies and other miscellaneous items. There are also seasonal festivals you can attend such as the Ice Fishing Festival in Winter or the Festival of Spirits in Fall.
Stardew Valley has everything that I could want in a game, along with pleasant graphics and art style. The only downside is just how much of your time this game will consume, but why do you need to do real life things when you can be a farmer in cozy little Pelican Town? Stardew Valley is available on PC, Xbox, PS4 and is set to release on the upcoming Nintendo Switch.
When you’re in a gaming slump and no game can fill the void inside of you, I hope one of these games can help you through your hard time!