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Simulation video games aim to create play around closely simulated real-world activities. This could be a battlefield, landscape, motor racing, farming, flying or just a kitchen. The novelty is that you are not only playing a game but interacting with complex systems modelling the real-world in some way. This opens the door for creative and inventive approaches to succeeding in the game. It also provides the player with an open-world in which to spend time simply experiencing the simulation. Almost any game can offer a simulation experience as this can combine with most genres to skew gameplay in a more realistic and open direction. This can mean that players enjoy a particular game not because of the shooting or racing but because it's a chance to spend time in a simulated world or system they enjoy.From an educational and experiential perspective, a simulation game offers an entirely new way to learn and understand the world. Rather than a cold or external understanding of how things work, this offers an embodied experience of a system as the player moves and interacts with the simulation from within.
Release Date: 29/10/2020, updated in 2023
Out Now: PC, PS5 and Xbox X|S
Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds
Components: 3D First-Person
Teardown is a creative traversal game where you plan and execute a heist in fully destructible environments. Play involves knocking routes through the destructible buildings to set an escape route to steal the key cards. It’s an unusual game because...
Release Date: 24/10/2016
Out Now: PC
My Summer Car is a strategy game about doing up a broken-down car over one long summer. It sounds simple, but the level of detail is the attraction here. You start the game with hundreds of loose parts and assemble both your car and engine. Not only do...
Release Date: 22/09/2014
Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One
Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds
Components: 3D First-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night and Open World
The Long Dark is a thoughtful exploration-survival game where you have crash-landed in the icy Canadian wilderness after a global disaster and must find a way to survive. Through exploring, crafting and fighting you must look after your body...
Release Date: 16/08/2021
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon
Road 96 is a narrative adventure where you play a teenager trying to escape an oppressive, authoritarian country by reaching the border. Through a series of vignettes, you experience the most important and poignant parts on an epic road trip through a...
Release Date: 20/01/2021
Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS
Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds
Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night and Hand-Made
Nuts is an adventure game where you play a rookie field researcher. You use your camera, caravan, GPS and map to investigate the depths of the enigmatic Melmoth Forest. As you study the local squirrel population you uncover a strange mystery.
Release Date: 06/10/2014, updated in 2019
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds
Alien: Isolation is an adventure horror game set in space, remastered in 2019 from the 2014 game due to its popularity. You play Amanda who is trying to find out the truth behind her mother's disappearance. You explore Sevastopol, a decommissioned...
Release Date: 24/04/2023
Components: 3D First-Person, Blocks and Open World
Shadows of Doubt is an open-world detective game set in a fully simulated city of crime and corruption. You explore the city to discover criminality, find clues, solve crimes and earn money to fund bringing a serial killer to justice. It stands out for...
Release Date: 09/06/2021
Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Open World and Pixels
Black Skylands is an adventure game where you pilot an airship through a sprawling open world of floating islands. You play Eva, who's ship has been destroyed and father killed. Your task is to rebuild your home from the deck up, arm and prepare for...
Release Date: 03/12/2015
Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World
Orchids to Dusk is a short wandering adventure. You are an astronaut stranded on an alien planet, with only a few minutes of oxygen. You explore the world and discover fantastic gardens on the planet.
Release Date: 24/02/2023
Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch
Components: 2D Overhead, 2D Side-On and Day and Night
The Pale Beyond is a narrative simulation game where you captain an exploration ship stranded in the frozen Antarctic waters. You carefully manage and gather resources and keep your crew in good health to hopefully survive until the summer. It stands...
Release Date: Coming soon
Coming Soon: PC
Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Open World
Baby Steps is a tongue-in-cheek traversal game where you play Nate, an unemployed failing son who sets out on a journey of putting one foot in front of the other. The twist is that you must control and place each foot individually while ensuring you...
Release Date: 13/03/2023
Components: 2D Side-On
Barotrauma is a cooperative space-submarine adventure set after humanity has fled to Jupiter's moon. You work with other players to steer your submarine, work the ageing machinery, fight monsters and fix the endless leaks. It's a game that revels in not...
Release Date: 19/05/2020
Out Now: PC, Switch and Xbox One
Components: 3D First-Person and Cartoon
Umurangi Generation is an adventure you play by exploring a city and taking photographs. Unlike other games where the photography is secondary, this is the main way you progress. As you do, you discover a story about ecology, friendship and the...
Release Date: 12/09/2014, updated in 2014
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS Vita and PS4
Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels
Nidhogg is a fast two-player duelling game whose simple visuals belie the skill required to defeat your opponent. The novelty is that upon death you reappear on the next screen. The player to advance through the most screens wins.
Release Date: 26/05/2022, updated in 2022
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Components: 3D First-Person, 3D Third-Person and Open World
Sniper Elite 5 is the latest game in the shooting simulation series that focuses on tactical third-person combat, advanced gun physics, traversal and an enhanced slow motion kill camera. With realistic environments and real-world locations, customise...
Release Date: 08/08/2017, updated in 2018
Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night, Open World and Persistant World
Ark: Survival Evolved is an adventure simulation game that offers hunting-and-harvesting gameplay in a primal setting. Although not as polished or streamlined as a game like Horizon Zero Dawn, this is a more ambitiously open world where you can choose...
Release Date: 17/12/2021
Out Now: Mac and PC
Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds
Ready or Not is a tactical shooting game, where you need restraint and discipline as much as a quick trigger finger. Like Rainbow Six Siege, you take on tactical missions with other people and must work together to apprehend suspects with minimal...
Release Date: 30/05/2014
Out Now: PC and PS4
Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night and Open World
The Forest is a survival horror game where you are the only passenger to live after a plane crash. You explore a mysterious forest to find food, shelter and safety but soon have to battle strange cannibalistic people.
Release Date: 25/02/2021
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Riders Republic is an extreme sports game where you can mountain bike, ski, snowboard, and fly in a wingsuit and rocket suit. This builds on other spot games with tens of online players competing at once in each event.
Release Date: 20/05/2021
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World
Just Die Already is a sandbox game where you play a retiree in a near future where people aren’t having any children and pension funds are drying up. It's an intentionally absurd set-up of old people fending for themselves in a world that wants them...
Coming Soon: Mac and PC
Components: 2D Overhead
Paralives is a simulation game where you build houses for people and then control how they live. It's inspired by games like the Sims, however, you have complete control over every aspect of the design of the house and its residents. Its balance of...
Release Date: 27/07/2017
Skill Rating: 15+ year-olds
Escape from Tarkov is an online shooting game set in the fictional Norvinsk region in Northwest Russia. You play during a war between two private military companies and join matches to fight others for loot, survival and ultimately escape.
Release Date: 10/02/2012, updated in 2020
Out Now: PC, PS3, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Components: 3D First-Person and Open World
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is an adventure where you set out from the vibrant city of Rathir to rescue a world torn apart by a vicious war. Along with its huge scale, the game offers nuanced character development and a political system where you...
Release Date: 30/03/2021
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Grid and Open World
Evil Genius 2 is a tongue-in-cheek strategy game where you play the evil villain. You must build a detailed, functional lair from where you can take control of the world. Similar to Sim City and 2 Point Hospital, you use your resources wisely as you...
Release Date: 07/12/2023
Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night and Weather
The Finals is an online shooting game where you are a contestant in a violent game show. You play from first person perspective, aiming to shoot opponents before they shoot you. The twist is that everything in the world from the buildings to the trees...
Release Date: 20/02/2020
Out Now: Android, PC and iOS
Components: 2D Side-On, Hand-Made and Text
Democratic Socialism Simulator is a puzzle game where you run for office and then run a country. It offers a flow of questions with a yes or no response. Each answer has consequences in the minds of the voters and the prosperity of the country. It's an...
Release Date: 15/10/2021
Components: 3D Third-Person
The Good Life is a narrative adventure, where you experience a slower pace of life in an English town. However, before long you are drawn into an intriguing web of murder, bodily transformations into cats and dogs and photographic tasks. It's an...
Release Date: 12/09/2013
Components: 3D First-Person and Day and Night
Arma 3 is a realistic military simulator. Unlike games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield Arma focuses on realism. Rather than blockbuster effects, it spends time simulating the...
Release Date: 27/07/2011, updated in 2011
Out Now: PC, PS3 and Xbox 360
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Weather
From Dust is a strategy game. You play as an all powerful God of a primitive people. The land is ancient but devoid of humans. Unusually, you control the landscape rather than the people, moving land and water and lava to give villagers pathways to...
Release Date: 23/04/2020, updated in 2020
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
112 Operator and its predecessor, 911 Operator, are strategy games that put you in control of the emergency services as they fight natural disasters, crime and terrorism. You choose how to deal with each scenarios and work your way up the chain of...
Release Date: 28/03/2008, updated in 2021
Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, Xbox One and iOS
Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person, Blocks and Day and Night
Work At A Pizza Place is a strategy game where you take on the role of a team member in a pizza restaurant. When you start you choose a role and work with other online players to fulfil orders, cook pizzas, manage stock and other aspects of the business.
Release Date: 10/10/2019
Out Now: PC and Switch
Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon
Eliza is an interactive narrative where you play Evelyn, a young woman burnt out from the pressures of a high-tech job. She now works for a virtual counselling service called Eliza, that guides counsellors to provide the ideal response to patients.
Coming Soon: PC, PS5 and Xbox X|S
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Open World and Weather
Rooted is an open-world survival game where you eke out an existence in a post-apocalyptic America where nature has retaken the cities and villages. You construct a base, scavenge for resources, and infiltrate the territories of rival survivors and...
Release Date: 02/12/2016
Out Now: PC, PS4 and Xbox One
Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night and Open World
Steep is an extreme winter sports game set in a fully explorable Alps. You can ski, snowboard, paraglide or wingsuit (fly) down various mountains, with alternate pathways to explore and create. You gain experience points from performing tricks and...
Release Date: 04/09/2020
Out Now: DS, Mac, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Tony Hawk 1 and 2 is a sports simulation skateboarding game series. It features the famous skater in 19 different games. From its start in 1999 on PlayStation it is now available on most consoles and has recently been re-released in updated as Tony...
Release Date: 17/10/2018
Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Grid, Open World and Pixels
RimWorld is a sci-fi strategy game about survival, trading, exploring and developing your colony. You start the game with three survivors of a shipwreck on a distant planet and begin to craft structures, weapons and clothes. The objective of the game is...
Release Date: 27/07/2021, updated in 2021
Hell Let Loose is a tactical shooting game set during the battles of the Western and Eastern Fronts of World War 2. It focuses on the structure of warfare with large numbers of troops through chain of command communication. You must work with other...
Release Date: 29/03/2018, updated in 2019
Components: 2D Overhead and Grid
Frostpunk is a city-building survival game set in an alternate 1886 with a devastating winter setting in. You are tasked with running a city by managing resources to ensure the city’s survival. Your choices can have negative and positive consequences.
Release Date: 26/11/2019
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4 and Switch
Pine is an adventure game where you play a primitive young man searching for new land for his tribe. You discover five tribes of anthropomorphic creatures that need to be understood and overcome to enable your tribe to have somewhere to live.
Release Date: 28/09/2021
Lemnis Gate is a combat game that combines turn-taking with real-time shooting. At the start of the battle, you pick one of your seven operatives for the first 25 second round. The game then rewinds to the start and you go again with your second...