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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: 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
Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds
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: 06/10/2014, updated in 2019
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds
Components: 3D First-Person
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: 29/09/2020
Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels
Spelunky 2 is, like the classic Spelunky, a running and jumping game where you explore mysterious caves on the moon looking for your missing parents. On your journey, you will find unique environments, treasure, and people to join you as you delve...
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: 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: 01/04/2019, updated in 2022
Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person
Totally Accurate Battle Simulator (known as TABS) is a fighting game where you choose different armies and troops to battle each other in an automatic simulation that models their offensive and defensive abilities. Once set up, the fight is largely...
Release Date: 08/08/2017, updated in 2018
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: 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
Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World
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
Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds
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...
Release Date: 04/02/2000
Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, PS3, PS4, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Grid, Open World and Persistant World
The Sims puts you in charge of a world of characters living normal lives. By providing a home, a job, leisure, friendships and even a love interest, you work to make them happy. It’s an open-ended game as well, although the altruism is focused on...
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: 22/02/2022, updated in 2023
Out Now: PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds
Sifu is a martial arts fighting game with a flowing control system and ageing protagonist. You fight with Kung-Fu combat designed with impact and authenticity in mind. The twist is, each time you die you age which means eventually you are too old to...
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: 15/10/2021
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: 23/04/2020, updated in 2020
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 2D Overhead
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: 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: 09/02/2012, updated in 2017
Out Now: PS Vita and PS4
Gravity Rush is a running, jumping and exploration adventure game. You play as Kat, an amnesiac with the power to manipulate gravity. She uses this ability to help her community and uncover the mystery of her past.
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: 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...
Release Date: 16/10/1997, updated in 2020
Out Now: PC, PS4 and Switch
Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night and Pixels
Moon: Remix RPG Adventure is a role-play adventure set inside another role-playing game where "the hero" has wreaked destruction, killing hundreds of creatures and looting homes. Unusually, you play a supporting character in the game who tries to undo...
Release Date: 26/02/2019, updated in 2019
Out Now: PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch and Xbox One
Components: 2D Side-On
Trials Rising is a four-player side-on motorbike racing game controlled by pressing ‘accelerate’ or ‘brake’ and using the stick to shift the weight of their riders’ bodies. The game emulates real-world physics, so you have to balance your...
Release Date: 30/01/2017
Out Now: PC, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Open World and Persistant World
Conan Exiles is an online survival game, set in the lands of Conan the Barbarian. Similar to games like Ark or Green Hell, you start with nothing and must use resources you find in the open-world sandbox. On your own or with friends, you build a base...
Release Date: 14/06/2015, updated in 2016
Out Now: Android, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 2D Side-On, Persistant World and Pixels
Fallout Shelter is a time management simulation game. Set in the Fallout wasteland after a nuclear war, you play as an Overseer of an underground bunker. You accrue currency to build rooms, attract people and train them to provide resources, craft...
Release Date: 13/04/2023
Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds
Boundary is an online shooting game set in zero-gravity environments where you work in teams to defeat your opponents. It sounds similar to other squad-based shooting games, but the lack of gravity takes away any sense of orientation. Play moves quickly...
Release Date: 12/09/2014, updated in 2014
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS Vita and PS4
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: 17/09/2021
Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made
Tails of Iron is a role-playing adventure game with a focus on brutal combat. You play Redgi, heir to the Rat Throne, who must restore your broken Kingdom by banishing the merciless Frog Clan. It's a hand-drawn adventure equally endearing and...
Release Date: 12/01/2016, updated in 2020
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4 and Switch
Components: 2D Overhead, Dice and Grid
Tharsis is a tough strategy-simulation game where you must survive a doomed mission to Mars. You roll dice whose outcome can either help repair the ship or make things worse by injuring crew mates or causing further damage. The dice foreground the...
Release Date: 17/08/2017, updated in 2022
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Darkwood is a survival horror role-play where you must scavenge the forest to fortify your cabin ready for the strange and disturbing attacks of each night. You play by exploring the grotesque open world that changes each day then get back to hunker...
Release Date: 01/09/2020
Components: 2D Overhead, Cards, Grid and Hand-Made
Fights in Tight Spaces is a turn based fighting game where you use your deck of cards to win combat battles in small rooms and other locations. As you progress you gain more cards and build a deck tailored to each battle.
Release Date: 22/05/2001, updated in 2018
Components: 3D First-Person, 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Open World
Red Faction is a series of shooting and sabotage games. Although the games differ in terms of player perspective, they all share the ability to destroy anything in the environment. The novelty is how believably building collapse. Bring down a wall or...
Release Date: 02/04/2019, updated in 2020
Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds
Stab Stab Stab is a frantic fighting game where monster birds try to impale each other with their sharp beaks. You play by running, jumping and grabbing power-ups in a rush to stab your opponents more than they stab you. You can either play the...
Release Date: 17/10/2022, updated in 2022
Terror of Hemasaurus is a retro fighting game where you smash up a destructible city as a giant monster. Play is like the classic Rampage arcade game, here though you can use the game's physics to inflict greater damage, chain reactions and combos. It's...
Release Date: 10/03/2017, updated in 2019
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One
Streets of Rogue is a fast-paced action role playing game where your overarching goal is to take down the mayor, and how you do it is completely up to you: clever hacker, charming bartender soldier, thief or assassin. It's all about experimentation and...
Release Date: 21/04/2022
Warpips is a quick-to-learn strategy war game where you deploy units to beat enemies in a surprisingly deep tug-of-war battle. You work to pick the right mix of soldiers, tanks, helicopters and planes to beat the enemy forces. Unlike other war games...
Release Date: 31/03/2022, updated in 2023
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch and Xbox One
Components: 2D Overhead and Day and Night
Weird West is a role-playing game set in the supernatural wild west, where you play five different related stories. You explore the world and talk to townsfolk, but rather than a pre-build story, it's your choices that direct how things unfold: shooting...
Release Date: 25/11/2013, updated in 2019
Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Stadia, Switch, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 2D Side-On, Blocks, Day and Night, Persistant World, Pixels and Weather
Terraria looks like a 2D, lesser version of Minecraft. However, this is a game every bit as complex and creative as the better-known block-building game. To the world-crafting and survival, it adds hundreds of items to collect, characters to defeat and...
Release Date: 23/04/2013, updated in 2017
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks, Day and Night, Hand-Made and Open World
Don't Starve is an open-world survival game where it’s the environment and enemies, rather than other players, that you have to work with. You need to find and develop food, weapons and shelter to survive. It’s enjoyable because it’s hard, so...