The Best Life Sim Games

Stardew Valley

by William Lobley |
Updated on

The ability to have supreme control over the lives of our digital avatars, rather than being some Freudian nightmare, is a hugely enjoyable thing indeed. Life sim games offer players the chance to escape the daily grind and sink into a new world loaded with possibilities.

Life sim games come in several forms. There are titles, like The Sims and Second Life, which provide users with the chance to build and develop their digital selves, setting players up with extravagantly wacky, luxurious or futuristic homesteads and a characterful array of associates. Other titles, like My Time In Portia and Stardew Valley, provide gamers with a tonic to reality and a time away from hardnosed video games.

One thing is a constant throughout life sim gaming, however: whether toyed with casually or pursued with a dedicated fervour, the best life sim games can evolve into genuinely special and memorable experiences.

To help you find your next world, we’ve rounded up some of the best life sim games available:


The Best Life Sim

Stardew Valley1 of 8

Stardew Valley

Platform: Multi With nothing but a few coins and some second-hand tools, players are tasked with rejuvenating their grandfather's old farming plot in the humble Stardew Valley. Over the course of the game (which is endless), seasons change, relationships are forged and the farming plot grows. Stardew Valley is a bestselling title for good reason – it's an absorbing and relaxing game that offers the player complete freedom to explore caves, marry, farm, chat and fish at will, all against a pixel backdrop that only heightens the innocence and simple joys offered. There isn't much more to say, the game is a simple sim with more heart than you can possibly imagine. Buy for Nintendo Switch Digital DownloadBuy for PS4Buy for Xbox OneBuy for PC on Steam

Animal Crossing: New Horizon2 of 8

Animal Crossing: New Horizon

Platform: SwitchAnimal Crossing: New Horizon is that place in life that we all need: a serene, inoffensive haven where we can just plod around and take a breather. The feeling of being welcomed home has always been one of Animal Crossing's strongest elements, and New Horizon delivers on this in spades, whilst still injecting some fresh gameplay ideas. Starting from an uninhabited desert island, players will gradually craft, mine, forage and fish their way to comfort and satisfaction. The familiar cast of NPCs make themselves known, giving the player a chance to chat, trade and build relationships, deepening the heart-warming core of the Animal Crossing experience. This game is a slow-burn, and players should expect to be in it for the long haul, but that only makes what you can build that much more special.Buy for SwitchBuy for Switch Digital Download

The Sims 43 of 8

The Sims 4

Platform: MultiAh, van vesua! Cummuns nala? It's time to boot up and spend three hours crafting the perfect nose. The Sims 4 has everything that our Simlish-spouting avatars have come to expect from the franchise, with friends, pets, children, jobs and chores all getting in the way of a much-needed toilet break. The game isn't perfect, but the expansions and updates since its initial release have tightened up the mechanics and broadened out the gameplay nicely. The story mode will have players starting from the bottom of the housing and career ladder, patiently working their way through the trials and tribulations of Sim life on the never-ending quest for happiness. Or, like most people, players can drop in a code (cough - 'motherlode' - cough) and pass the time in build mode, piecing together the idyllic mansion and/or isolation bunker. Buy for PS4Buy for Xbox OneBuy for Xbox One Download CodeBuy for PC

Littlewood4 of 8


Platform: MultiLittlewood is a cute town builder that plays like Stardew Valley by way of Animal Crossing and Game Boy-era Pokemon city planning. The player-character has forgotten that they saved the world and is tasked with rebuilding the local town and attracting new citizens. There are lots of locations to explore, people to meet and items to collect, along with materials to harvest. There's no jeopardy or combat here - it's all about doing a little of everything each day and having a relaxed time.Buy for PCBuy for Switch

My Time At Portia5 of 8

My Time At Portia

Platform: Multi Set 100 years after the mysterious cataclysm, My Time At Portia has the player take up the socially responsible role of building up their Pa's dilapidated workshop. Resource gathering and farmland cultivation play a key role in helping the player to upgrade their farmland, upskill their stats and complete commissions from the locals in order to uncover lost truths from the world pre-cataclysm. There are of course parallels with Stardew Valley, but the developers were also openly inspired by the works of Studio Ghibli, and the charm and magic of titles like Nausicaä and Castle In The Sky can truly be felt in the landscape which feature creaking windmills, clumsy-cute technology and rolling hills dotted with relics of yesteryear. The NPCs too are jovial and memorable, adding to the richness of the world perfectly. Who knew that the post-apocalypse would be so charming?Buy now for SwitchBuy now for PS4Buy now for Xbox OneBuy now for PC from Steam

Two Point Hospital6 of 8

Two Point Hospital

Platform: MultiDigital hospital management seems like an odd choice for a game, but Two Point Hospital proves that with the right execution, can actually be one of the best sim gaming experiences available. Starting from humble beginnings, the player is set to building up the best healthcare institution in Two Point County, combining both style and function is the key to attracting more patients into the facility. Too efficient? The patients will get bored, complain and hesitate to return. Too flashy? Well, then the player will have insufficient funds to spend on actually curing people. It's a fine, and slightly bizarre, line to tread, made even more difficult by the big-brained bonkers egos that demand precise management and regular supervision. Two Point Hospital is hilarious, sarcastic, tough and joyful. Buy for PS4, Xbox One and SwitchBuy for PC on Steam

Jurassic World Evolution7 of 8

Jurassic World Evolution

Platform: MultiNeed a life sim with a little more bite? Well, how about managing a dinosaur park with a terrible visitor safety record? Jurassic World Evolution will have the player taking over total command of the Jurassic World theme park, calling the shots and making key decisions on the park's direction – should it be science, entertainment, profit or safety? (Anyone who has seen the movies should have some idea of what way to lean here). As the game progresses, new islands of the archipelago open up, offering new challenges to overcome and genes to splice. The in-game mechanics offer really deep and varied gameplay, as custom engineered dinos are provided with certain unique traits, which have them interact and behave in certain ways, meaning that park management isn't just about making sure the numbers add up. The second instalment landed recently, but this one is still our fave. Buy for PS4Buy for Xbox OneBuy for PC from Steam

Second Life8 of 8

Second Life

Platform: PCDeveloper Linden Lab has always insisted that Second Life isn't a game, but a virtual world – a true additional online life. And, strange as it may seem, they might be right. Users control their created avatar to explore the digital world, meeting residents, attending parties, shopping in malls, buying property, crafting, creating and developing their online-persona however they desire. It can be a liberating, joyous, surreal and, for some, lucrative experience that's certainly worth trying out.Second Life has been the butt of many a joke over the years, in part fuelled by stories of user fanaticism exposed in documentaries like Life 2.0, however on balance it's fair to say that every online game has its more extreme participants. What Second Life offers most casual users is a world full of friendships, imagination and a little escapist whimsy. There really is no 'point' or goal in Second Life, it is what you make it. And in that sense, it might just be the ultimate life simulator. Second Life offers free accounts for casual users in addition to premium accounts.

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