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Best Simulation Games

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.

DetailsGenre Details

Era: 1986 - 2023
Total Games: 714
Total Likes: 12,304
 

 

Animal Crossing (Series)

Release Date: 14/12/2001, updated in 2020

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS, GameCube, Switch and Wii

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night, Open World and Weather

You live on a small island teeming with life. Insects, fish, trees, vegetation and fossils are represented with cute cartoon visuals. Rather than the scale or grandeur of other game worlds, it’s the interconnected drama of the world and characters...

Webbed

Release Date: 09/09/2021, updated in 2022

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Webbed is a running and jumping game with a twist. You play a spider who can make webs, swing, climb and all the while creating music as she goes. It follows the story of our happy little spider on an adventure to save her boyfriend from a big dumb...

Teardown

Release Date: 29/10/2020

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

Teardown is a strategic game where you plan and execute a heist in fully destructible environments. Your objective is to claim the key cards that are hidden around the map. However taking one triggers the alarm, giving you only sixty seconds before...

Townscaper

Release Date: 30/06/2020, updated in 2021

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch, Web, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks and Hand-Made

Townscaper is a town building toy. You pick colours from the range available and click to put down a house in the sea. As you continue to add houses of different colours the game automatically orientates the architecture for you.

Rocket League

Release Date: 28/08/2018

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Drive futuristic cars to score goals with an oversized football. It’s another game that sounds ridiculous but is actually a huge amount of fun to play and requires a lot of expertise. What’s not obvious from the start is the level of control that...

The Long Dark

Release Date: 22/09/2014

Platforms: 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...

Road 96

Release Date: 16/08/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series 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...

Nuts

Release Date: 20/01/2021

Platforms: 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.

Alien: Isolation

Release Date: 06/10/2014, updated in 2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

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...

Apico

Release Date: 20/05/2022, updated in 2022

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Grid and Pixels

Apico is a simulation game where you play a beekeeper and conservationist. You explore environments, breed rare bees and release them into the wild, while growing your business. There are no enemies, time constraints or set objectives so you can focus...

Terra Nil

Release Date: 28/03/2023

Platforms: Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Open World

Terra Nil is a strategy game where you use clean technology to bring back life to a barren world. It's a city-building game where you aren't building a city at all, but a clean thriving ecology. It raises interesting themes of how humanity plays an...

Orchids to Dusk

Release Date: 03/12/2015

Platforms: PC

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.

Spelunky 2 (Series)

Release Date: 29/09/2020

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Spelunky 2 is, like the classic Spelunky, a running and jumping game where you exploring 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...

JellyCar Worlds

Release Date: 10/12/2022

Platforms: Apple TV, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Jelly Car is a puzzle game about a car made of jelly traversing a squishy world. You use the physics properties of the car and the objects in the world to get from A to B. It's an action puzzle game that stands out for the joyous novelty of a malleable...

My Summer Car

Release Date: 24/10/2016

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

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...

Shadows of Doubt

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

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...

Henry Halfhead

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Henry Halfhead is a traversal game where you move around by possessing and controlling any object within your reach. You move around the world freely, but to get where you need to go you need to become the objects around you to use their abilities. It...

Forza Horizon 5 (Series)

Release Date: 05/11/2021

Platforms: PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Open World and Weather

Forza Horizon 5 is a fast-paced racing game where you drive all manner of different vehicles in races and across the vast open landscape. Building on Forza Horizon 4, this fifth entry to the series is set in Mexico,...

World of Goo

Release Date: 13/10/2008, updated in 2017

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch, Wii, Wii U and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

World of Goo is a puzzle game where you use balls of goo to create bridges that span increasingly large chasms and obstacles. The game simulates real-world physics to determine if structures are strong enough and when they collapse. This means that...

Eliza

Release Date: 10/10/2019

Platforms: 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.

Maquette

Release Date: 02/03/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4 and PS5

Components: 3D First-Person

Maquette is a puzzle game played in a series of nested identical worlds. What you do in the larger world effects things in the smaller one, and so on. Every building, plant, and object are simultaneously tiny and staggeringly huge.

Blaseball

Release Date: 20/07/2020

Platforms: Web

Components: 2D Side-On and Text

Blaseball is an online baseball simulation. Unusually though, it blends-in an absurd horror story where players are incinerated and the rules can change -- a little like the board game Blood Bowl. Players compete not so much to get their team to win,...

Cart Life

Release Date: 25/04/2019

Platforms: PC

Components: 2D Side-On, Pixels and Text

Cart Life is a simulation game where you play one of three street vendors. You attempt to run their shop whilst looking after their health, interests, and families. It has simple visuals, but depicts the realities of the thin-end of life.

The Longing

Release Date: 05/03/2020

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Pixels

The Longing is a point-and-click adventure about waiting and loneliness. It's an intentionally slow game that takes 400 elapsed days to finish. It draws on the Idle Game genre, where you use minor interactions to incrementally advance. Here though, the...

140

Release Date: 16/10/2013, updated in 2020

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Wii U and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

140 is a sliding, rolling and jumping game where you control a changing geometric shape to traverse a minimalist world. It's challenging for the timed jumps and reactions but keeps distractions to a minimum with its abstract colorful graphics.

Nidhogg

Release Date: 12/09/2014, updated in 2014

Platforms: 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 in the next screen. The player to advance through the most screens wins.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Release Date: 18/08/2020

Platforms: PC and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Open World and Weather

Microsoft Flight Simulator (Microsoft Flight Sim 2020) is the latest flight simulator game in the long running series. Along with a huge range of aircraft you can learn to fly, the game recreates the entire Earth using textures and data from data maps...

Kids

Release Date: 31/05/2019

Platforms: iOS

Skill Rating: 2+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Hand-Made

Kids is an unusual game where you tap to interact with groups of monochrome cartoon children. Seeing the little kids run around and respond to each other creates a playful and intriguing game that only lasts half an hour but will be played many times.

The Endless Forest

Release Date: 15/02/2006

Platforms: PC

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

This is a whimsical online multiplayer game where you play deer in a peaceful forest. You freely explore ruins and ponds, and meet other players, communicating in symbols. The world is like a moving painting, but one that players have a strong sense of...

Sniper Elite 5 (Series)

Release Date: 26/05/2022, updated in 2022

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series 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...

#SelfCare

Release Date: 29/07/2019

Platforms: Android and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

#SelfCare is a companion game that aims to create space for your feelings. Unlike other apps that remind or incentivise you to take a break, breath or even just to stand up, #SelfCare offers interactions and narrative that create a context for you to...

Frost

Release Date: 25/03/2017

Platforms: iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Frost is a puzzle game where you control living particles with gestures to guide them home. Using flocking mechanics the game lets you direct thousands of elements with super simple controls. Each level presents a different scene in which to direct the...

SoundSelf: A Technodelic

Release Date: 22/04/2020

Platforms: PC

Components: 2D Side-On

SoundSelf is an interactive guided meditation. Using the microphone, and optionally enhanced by VR, the game leads you through a landscape that responds to the sounds of your breath. This encourages you to make the Ujjayi Pranayama sound on your...

Lifelike

Release Date: 25/10/2019

Platforms: Apple TV, Mac and iOS

Skill Rating: 2+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Lifelike: Chapter One is a light-touch simulation game where you interact with flocking particles to create a soothing and meditative experience. It's an exercise in attending to something playful and the pleasure and escape that come from this.

Williams Pinball

Release Date: 09/10/2018

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, Android, Mac, PS3, PS4, Wii, Xbox One and iOS

Components: 2D Overhead and Hand-Made

Williams are a renowned designer and manufacturer of pinball machines. Its tables can be played on different systems through games that simulate the original games. This include the physics of the ball, pixel perfect recreation of the play tables and...

Tracks The Train Set Game

Release Date: 11/10/2019, updated in 2020

Platforms: PC, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Tracks The Train Set Game is a digital version of wooden toy train sets, without the costs of buying more and more track pieces. You build your toy train set and towns and then jump into the driver's seat and drive the train, seeing your toy world to...

Totally Accurate Battle Simulator

Release Date: 01/04/2019, updated in 2022

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

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...

Ark: Survival Evolved

Release Date: 08/08/2017, updated in 2018

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night and Open World

This game 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 your own way to survive. With crafting and...

Satisfactory

Release Date: 19/03/2019, updated in 2020

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Open World

Satisfactory is a factory building set on a foreign planet. Like the popular Tycoon and Factory games in Roblox, you start with humble beginnings, you harvest what you can by hand but steadily you build a sprawling empire of automated harvesting...

Farm Together

Release Date: 25/02/2018, updated in 2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night and Open World

Farm Together is a low-pressure farm simulator. You develop your farm by yourself or cooperate with your friends. Starting with an empty plot you can grow crops, plant trees, take care of the animals, add buildings and facilities, and unlock new items...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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