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10 games like The Sims that will are perfect for meddlers, matchmakers and control freaks

(Image credit: Maxis / EA)

There's never been a better time to really invest your energies into a virtual life courtesy of The Sims 4. In it, you can build the perfect person in the perfect home, create a cute puppy to your exact specifications, and learn magic as you waltz your multi-million simoleon house. But sometimes, you need a new tiny life to control, and trapping your sim in their swimming pool just isn't giving you the same thrill. 

Whether you're in life simulation games for the relationships, the building, the drama or the whole messy lot of it, there are lots of games you can play that will let you live out your fantasy life. We found the best games to let you live another life running a hospital, starting a workshop, escaping to an uninhabited island or even caring for your very own graveyard. 

Whatever you need your virtual life to be, here are ten games like The Sims to help you live it. 

1. My Time at Portia 

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Instead of taking up residence in Oasis Springs or Willow Creek, why not move into Portia? Pathea’s cutsey open-world life sim has so much to offer fans of the genre, with a whole mish mash of occupations to keep you busy. As the new resident in town who inherits a workshop from their relative, you can earn money by crafting all manner of gadgets of gizmos to fulfil commissions. But it doesn’t stop there. With mining, fishing, farming, crafting, cooking and so much more besides, there’s no end of ways to making a living. The true heart of Portia lies in its thriving community and the many, many residents you can form friendships and romantic relationships with. Just like the Sims, you can get married, have children, decorate your house, and customise the look of your character. There’s so much to do in My Time at Portia, it’ll certainly keep you busy. 

2. Stardew Valley

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android

Ah, Stardew Valley. Another time stealer with oodles of heart, this charming farming sim is like The Sims 3 if you were a farmer in the pixelated countryside. Going at your own pace, you can build up your farm, decorate your house and get engrossed in Stardew Valley’s endlessly interesting community. Just like the Sims, you can form relationships with every character in each household of the Valley, and all the residents have a their own unique story and background. There’s so much more than meets the eye to this delightful RPG. Fishing, mining, cooking, farming and raising farm animals are just a handful of ways to keep yourself occupied. From its relatable characters to its hidden secrets, playing one in-game day's worth won’t be enough. Before you know it, you'll sink hours upon hours into making your farm just right without realising how much time has past you by. 

3. Two Point Hospital

Available on: PC

In the Sims 4 Careers expansion, being a doctor is arguably one of the most entertaining jobs to do because you actually get to control your sim and treat patients. If managing a little sim hospital ticked all the right boxes for you, Two Point Hospital will scratch that itch and then some. The endlessly fun management sim lets you design your hospital from start to finish and the mechanics aren’t a million miles away from building rooms in the Sims. You’ll also be tasked with managing your staff, improving the hospital's reputation and making sure everything runs smoothly. With its own unique blend of humour and its tongue and cheek representation of running a healthcare system, it’ll keep you playing just as long as any hearty Simming session. 

4. Cities: Skylines

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Who doesn’t love being able to decide the fate of Sims? Whether you want to help them fulfil their dreams, or be the cause of their untimely demise by trapping them in a pool or setting a stove on fire, having all the power is what makes it so much fun. If this is why you love to get stuck into the Sims world, Paradox’s Cities: Skylines will feed your desire to be a virtual god even more. Instead of just managing a household, you manage an entire city, with all manner of ways to help it thrive or cause chaos. And if building and designing is your bag, you’ll be glad to know you get to design and build up your city however you wish. All jokes aside, if you thought managing a big family household or town was a challenge, managing a city takes it to a whole other level. Contending with natural disasters, pollution, and traffic jams are just some the problems a city can encounter, and you can deal with it in whatever way you want.  

5. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Available on: Nintendo Switch

We waited so long for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and it was worth every second. The game doesn't just let you build and decorate your own home, but a whole island. All the best features are there - designing your own clothes, sending letters and gifts to friends, and collecting adorable home furnishings - but now you can also travel to other islands courtesy of Dodo Airlines, and even indulge in a spot of terraforming to create ponds, rivers, and cliffs wherever you want.  Its never-ending gameplay loop of fishing, catching bugs, improving your home and making friends with an ever-increasing cast of quirky critters is incredibly comforting, and if you're looking for thrills there's always tarantulas to stalk and the turnip stock market to play.

6. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Ever wondered what lies beyond a Sim's town? If you long for something with more exploration, Yonder's world of Gemea might just be for you. In the shoes of a hero, the gentle open-world RPG lets you explore all that Gemea has to offer at your own pace. With some similar elements to the Sims - such as different jobs and skills to try out, tons of character customisations options, residents to meet, and friends to make - it's a great option for anyone who's are after a more laid-back experience. Those who loved befriending animals in the Sims Pets will undoubtedly enjoy befriending and adopting Yonder’s adorable creatures. And if you want to take a break from exploring, you can build up your very own farms across the various different landscapes - from tropical beaches to forested areas.  

7. Fantasy Life

Available on: 3DS 

While it's a little older than most on our list, Fantasy Life is one of the best 3DS offerings that's in a similar vein. As the title suggest, it's essentially like a fantasy version of the Sims where you can create and customise your own character and take on any one of the 12 lifestyles with different occupations. With everything from being a paladin to a tailor or chef, it lets you live a life of your own making. Alongside crafting, decorating your home, having pets, befriending the neighbours and potentially getting married, there's a lot of cutesy fantasy fun on offer. 

8. Jurassic World Evolution 

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4

No one ever said you couldn't swap the Sims with dinosaurs, right? Jurassic World Evolution is a dinosaur theme park management sim that lets you unleash your designer streak by creating your very own park from scratch. You then manage and maintain the park, and make sure the T-Rex you just added doesn't get break free and starting snacking on your visitors. Keeping your dinosaurs secure and your park visitors happy isn't always the easiest task, but seeing a theme park of your own making rack in the big bucks and operate smoothly is just as satisfying as running a happy household. With lots of nods to the Jurassic series, and a great look and feel, this is a slightly different kind of sim that will bring out the budding dino park manager in you. 

9. Graveyard Keeper 

Available on: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Where there is a life sim, death will inevitably follow. If you're after something a bit darker in tone and a lot more morbid, Graveyard Keeper will hit all the right notes. Just as Death appears in the shape of the grim reaper in the Sims, here death becomes a prominent part of your livelihood as you become the new manager of a graveyard in a medieval town. You can even design the layout of the graveyard and craft items to help you please the locals and make life in the medieval world a bit easier. The darker side doesn't just stem from the element of death though - plenty of questionable decisions will pop along the way that will make the choices you make in the Sims seem like a piece of cake. 

10. House Flipper

Available on: PC

The Sims 4 truly perfected the house building system into a game of its own. Spending a good chunk of time creating a giant mansion plucked straight out of your imagination is incredibly satisfying and enjoyable. If building up towns and decorating homes is the main draw for you, House Flipper is the answer to all your prayers. Empyrean's realistic house renovation sim lets you buy rundown houses off the market and fix up them to make a healthy profit from your efforts. Transforming a grimy, cockroach infested kitchen into a sparkling, beautifully designed cooking haven makes you feel like a true DIY champion. All in first-person with some very fun building mechanics, you can let your creative juices flow and give some neglected houses a new lease of life in any style you want. 

After trying to get into the industry for a number of years, I eventually landed my dream job as a full-time staff writer at GamesRadar+. You'll see all sorts of articles from me here including news, reviews, previews, and features.