The Sims series has always been a game meant for long stretches of sitting, whether you’re clicking away on your computer or swapping decor ideas with a friend on your couch. It’s not a difficult game, but it does expect players to invest time into its expansive systems built around character design, home building and decorating, and social simulation. With the new mobile version, released this week, developer Maxis has expertly streamlined the experience into something that feels perfectly at home on your smartphone.
The Sims Mobile tweaks a few traditions. The game uses emoji and your Sims speak perfect English, for example, instead of a mix of gibberish, but it retains the series’s quirky personality. You start by creating and customizing a Sim of your choice, then moving into a “fixer-upper” of a house. As you slowly renovate and decorate, you’re also able to pursue a career and build relationships. Instead of immediately allowing you to go nuts, like the computer or console games, the mobile version slowly opens more building options and opportunities as you get deeper into it.
Sims games traditionally include a lot of information tucked away into menus by necessity. When you’re working on your home, for example, you have control over the color of pieces of furniture, where you’ll place them, how you’ll angle them, and so on. Where usually this amounts to a lot of clicking or mousing around, the mobile version makes this process smooth by allowing you to just tap and touch as needed. As someone who spent several hours sighing and grumbling while trying to master playing with a console controller, the touch controls felt like a gift. The same goes for seeking out conversations with Sims, directing your Sim to eat or sleep, and so on. It’s all done with an easy swipe or tap.
The Sims Mobile gives you access to one Sim to start and slowly allows you to create additional custom characters; a few hours in, I was able to get a roommate for my original Sim. A daily checklist gives you some basic goals to achieve, like cleaning up your house, while quests offer harder challenges, like advancing in your career. The game is free-to-play, but does include a timing system that goads you to make in-game purchases as a result. If you send your Sim off to work, it’ll take a few hours to complete; however, you do have the option to “help out” by directing them, therefore cutting down on the time they’d usually spend.
For every action you direct your Sim to do — like delivering coffee at their job, for example — it takes a little bit of their stock energy. Although you can recoup energy through showers, naps, and more, you’re bound to run out if you spend a lot of time tapping around. If you find your Sim dragging and you don’t want to fork over the cash to feed them a cupcake to pump up their energy, you can always leave them to complete tasks at their own pace. It’s similar to the structure that was used in previous spinoffs like The Sims Freeplay and The Sims Social.
Maxis has successfully pared down a very full series into an accessible, easy-to-play game for your commute or bedtime routine. What it sacrifices in terms of the series’s sandbox play, it makes up for with a more focused experience. I haven’t found a way to drown anyone in a pool yet, but it does scratch the very particular itch that drives me to lust after a digital furniture set.