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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: 11/03/2022, updated in 2023
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One
Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World
Wobbledogs is a pet simulation where your dogs not only need care but are rapidly mutating different behaviour and appetites. You breed new dogs (from eggs), create and decorate a home for them, feed them and see how they evolve.
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: 02/03/2021, updated in 2023
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Maquette is a puzzle game played in a series of nested identical worlds. What you do in the larger world affects things in the smaller one, and so on. Every building, plant, and object is simultaneously tiny and staggeringly huge.
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: 26/05/2022, updated in 2022
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: 09/10/2018
Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, Android, Mac, PS3, PS4, Wii, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 2D Overhead and Hand-Made
Williams Pinball is a series of simulation games that recreate the classic pinball experience in a virtual space. You shoot the balls up the table, use the flippers to keep it up, and can even nudge the table to stop it from sinking. It stands out for...
Release Date: 01/04/2019, updated in 2022
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: 14/10/2016
Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds
Slime Rancher is a farming simulation with a difference - rather than chickens, sheep or cows, you farm Slimes. As you gather more Slimes and species, you collect more types of Plorts from them, which can be used to upgrade your farm and your gear. It...
Release Date: 12/12/2017, updated in 2021
Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds
Gang Beasts is an over-the-top brawling game where you play wobbly characters who kick, throw, push, pull and pummel up to seven other rivals to win. The game models real physics so you have to work with the grappling and jelly-like bodies to both get...
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: 15/12/2020
Out Now: PS4, Switch and Xbox One
Freddy Spaghetti is a running and jumping game where you play a piece of spaghetti rather than a person. The game simulates the pasta’s physics as you use two trigger buttons and a joystick to steer the main character across a wide variety of levels,...
Release Date: 20/05/2021
Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds
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: 25/02/2020
Components: 2D Overhead and Grid
Two Point Hospital is a light-hearted healthcare simulator. You take charge of a hospital, similar to Theme Hospital, where you must construct and maintain wards, machines and staff.
Release Date: 15/06/2020, updated in 2021
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night and Open World
Summer in Mara is a farming game with a strong narrative about an adventurous girl called Koa. With a full day-night and season cycle, you can take the challenge on at your own pace as you build your farm and explore the world around you Take care of...
Release Date: 15/03/2018
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox One
Components: 2D Overhead and Day and Night
Surviving Mars is a colony simulation game based on the real geography of Mars. You build and maintain a liveable habitat while balancing resources and researching new ways to adapt to the hostile environment. You receive occasional rockets from Earth...
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: 30/01/2014, updated in 2017
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox One and iOS
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a traversal game where you try and control an octopus masquerading as a human as he goes about his day-to-day life. Using a combination of sticks and buttons, it creates an awkward, stomach-churning feeling of having too many...
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: 04/07/2018
Components: 3D Third-Person, Blocks, Day and Night and Open World
TerraTech is a construction game where you create vehicles to explore the environment, find resources and craft upgrades. It includes a modular building element where your decisions affect the performance of what you make. Each building block has its...
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: 05/10/2012
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 2D Side-On and Day and Night
Cook, Serve, Delicious 3 is part of a series of three games where you run a restaurant. You have full control over how you improve your restaurant and what food or drink you want to sell. Each game plays in a similar way, adding new locations,...
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
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: 28/08/2019
AER Memories of Old is an exploration game where you transform from a woman to a golden eagle at will. As Auk, your quest is to save the world by finding the lost keys and restoring balance.
Release Date: 27/01/2017
Out Now: PC, PS4, Xbox One and iOS
I Am Bread takes the malleable, real-world physics gameplay and applies it to a slice of bread. By controlling each corner with a different stick or button you make your way around the kitchen and other rooms of the house. Playing a slice of bread is...
Release Date: 02/12/2016
Out Now: PC, PS4 and Xbox One
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: 09/08/2018
Out Now: PC, PS4 and Switch
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Open World
Deiland Pocket Planet is an adventure set on a small spherical planet. You farm, craft, and build your own world. Improve your skills, craft tools, cook food, brew potions, and create tools. As you make your home, you will attract merchants to trade...
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
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...
Release Date: 08/02/2022, updated in 2022
OlliOlli World is a skateboarding game where you roll, jump and trick your way around the vibrant world of Radlandia. It's hard to start, but once it clicks the controls are designed to let you flow through different moves. You meet colourful characters...