10 Simulation Games to While Away the Hours
Video games can be a significant time investment, which can be a pro or a con depending on your mood, preferences, or work/family responsibilities. Simulation games can be particularly good at making the hours slip away due to their open-ended nature. Whereas many other games have a clearly defined end, in many simulation games you’re free to play as long as you want. In this list, we’ll look at ten simulation games on PC that can easily help you fill up any free time you may have!
First off, these games are in no particular order. Despite featuring ten games, this isn’t a Top 10. These are just ten simulation games I’ve really enjoyed on PC, though I haven’t put the same amount of time into all of them. Also, note that while all of these are available on PC, a few of them are on other platforms as well, which I’ll list on the games in question! I can’t vouch for the quality or playability of the games on other platforms though, since I haven’t played those versions.
• The Sims 4
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Starting off with an obvious choice, The Sims 4 will easily take up hours of your own life as you direct and shape the lives of your virtual humanoids, the Sims. The Sims 4 may have had a rough launch, but by the time PatronusLight and I picked it up, it was much more polished and complete. Today, it has enough expansion packs available to allow for a huge variety of gameplay choices, if you’re willing to shell out more money for them.
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, New 3DS, Android, iOS
Another obvious choice, Minecraft puts you in a sandbox and gives you the freedom to destroy and place blocks, as well as craft items and new block types from raw materials. While there is a story, it’s the freedom to build whatever you want within its blocky confines that has inspired the imaginations of millions, myself included. With the introduction of Minecraft Realms, Mojang’s official servers, getting a multiplayer world set up to play with friends has never been easier.
• Stardew Valley
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PSVita, Android, iOS
Okay, one more obvious pick before we move on to the less obvious choices. Distilled into its most basic premise, Stardew Valley is basically Harvest Moon on PC. Through your avatar, you run a virtual farm, get to know the locals, and can get married. But it offers so much more than that. Each of its systems is perfectly tuned for fun, and it also offers exploration and combat within caves. Add in the ability to have new buildings built on your plot of land, co-op multiplayer support, and ongoing support from the developer, and you end up with an extremely compelling indie game that you can easily put a ton of hours into, and still find reasons to keep coming back.
• Jurassic World Evolution
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4
If you’re a Jurassic Park fan like me, the idea of a simulation game where you build your own Jurassic Park, or in this case, Jurassic World, is instantly exciting. Jurassic World Evolution does exactly this, and though it has some flaws, they don’t ruin the experience by any means. Couple this with its gorgeous graphics and a wide variety of dinosaur species, and you have a great Jurassic Park sim on your hands!
• Prison Architect
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, Android, iOS
Prison Architect offers exactly what the title promises. You construct, staff, and run a prison. You’ll build prison cells, cafeterias, rec rooms, electric chairs, and all other manner of prison elements, all while suppressing prison riots, thwarting attempted prison breaks, and confiscating contraband. It’s certainly a grim topic for a simulation game, but an entertaining and addicting one nonetheless!
• Euro Truck Simulator 2
As far as relaxing simulation games go, this one could give even Stardew Valley a run for its money. It’s an odd thing. Driving semi-trucks and hauling cargo in a video game seems like it would be incredibly dull. Yet the experience is incredibly relaxing, and you’ll quickly find yourself getting lost in the hypnotic bliss of virtual European roads, obeying traffic laws, and making deliveries on time.
• Oxygen Not Included
Bearing a similar art style to one of Klei’s other works, Don’t Starve, Oxygen Not Included puts you in command of a colony inside an asteroid, somewhere in the depths of space. You’ll need to assign your colonists tasks, ordering them to gather materials and build the necessary tools and machines for survival. There are so many systems within, it can be a little intimidating, and difficult to learn. However, the cutesy nature of the colonists lightens the experience, and makes it fun to learn, even when you fail and they die a horrible death. It’s definitely an addicting experience, and one well worth your time!
• Project Highrise
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, Android, iOS
A skyscraper construction and management sim, there’s something supremely satisfying about starting from nothing and slowly building a towering center of business, leisure, and apartments skyward. It’s easy to get started, and very easy to build an impressive skyscraper you can be proud of, but achieving a profitable balance as you expand can be a fun challenge!
• Cities: Skylines
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
Scratching the same itch as Sim City, Cities: Skylines tasks you with building a modern city. You’ll zone areas for residential, commercial, and industrial development, build roads and utilities, and construct all the necessities and niceties that a city requires. There’s a lot to manage, and it can be hard to find the balance, but anyone who enjoyed playing the Sim City series should feel right at home here.
• Kingdoms and Castles
Kingdoms and Castles is a highly addicting medieval fantasy kingdom-building sim, but it also doesn’t take too long to build something that looks really impressive. In that regard, it’s more casual than some other sims on this list, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s also actively receiving updates at the time of this writing, and while I haven’t played in a while I assume that these updates further add to the experience in a positive way. Building towering walls and defenses to protect your kingdom against vikings and dragons, all while maintaining peasant happiness and productivity, is incredibly fun, and I highly recommend this game because of it!