The Sims 4: StrangerVille is rich with potential, but ultimately feels empty

When Maxis introduced the newest Sims 4 recreation p.C., it right away piqued my interest. Called StrangerVille, the sport percent would cognizance on unraveling the mysteries in the back of a brand new neighborhood — the rural desolate tract metropolis of StrangerVille — and not like some of the preceding recreation packs, gave the look to be story-based totally. stream overlay

The mysterious desolate tract metropolis, mixed with a wonderful narrative element, made me specially consider The Sims 2 video games — but no longer the conventional PC video games. Instead, StrangerVille reminded me of The Sims 2 for PSP. While The Sims 2 PC video games had continually been diffused of their storytelling, the PSP sport went complete-on RPG. Both variations of the Sims 2 comprise a rural wasteland community, Strangetown — also complete of unexplained, weird happenings.

Both variations of the Strangetown story labored and have become a number of the maximum memorable elements of The Sims franchise for me, so I changed into keen to see how StrangerVille could maintain the legacy.

Ultimately, StrangerVille is stuck someplace in the middle. It doesn’t turn the metropolis’s mysterious narrative into an implicit, friendly concept, however the storyline additionally doesn’t fully anchor the game p.C. — which makes it sense missing ordinary.

[Ed. Note: This article contains slight spoilers for The Sims 4: StrangerVille.]

The Sims 2 PC video games continue to be specifically unique to me due to how subtly, yet correctly, they tell tales. Each community comes preloaded with a storyline in region built upon the premade Sims’ current connections, their very own reminiscences, and some little suggestions right here and there. There’s a complete graveyard in a single woman’s house, as an example, that contains the grave of every other family’s lacking mother.

The community of Strangetown is complete of alien abductions, ghosts, serial killers, mad scientists, government conspiracies — but most effective if you need there to be. You’re definitely unfastened to disregard the storylines in prefer of developing together with your personal, one of the games’ first-rate characteristics.

Meanwhile, The Sims 2 for PSP has a totally clean narrative technique. You create your Sim, they become stuck in Strangetown, and from there, the journey starts. You have interaction with characters, whole goals, and unravel the mystery of the city. In addition to tying in ordinary Sims gameplay (preserving up your desires, decorating your property) to the narrative, the PSP model additionally has a host of quirky, colorful characters that guided the overall narrative: a barmaid-became-werepug; a circle of relatives of aliens trapped in a secret authorities facility; and of direction, the infamous Bella Goth herself.

Two Sims speakme in The Sims 2 PSP
A scene from The Sims 2 on PSP. Maxis/Electronic Arts
Unlike the vintage PSP game, The Sims 4’s StrangerVille recreation % doesn’t lock me into the storyline when I load it up. To engage with the tale, I should choose the StrangerVille aspiration for my Sim, which outlines the essential dreams to increase; as soon as I whole the desires, I can move onto the following phase of the thriller. (Note: in case you navigate to the aspiration menu to peer what comes subsequent, you’ll basically learn the full thriller just from the listing of dreams. So don’t try this like I did!)

Before I flow my Sim into StrangerVille, I survey the community in brief. The Sims four base neighborhoods don’t include almost as many overarching storylines as The Sims 2 ones did, so I’m interested in seeing how this works for the very story-primarily based recreation p.C.. The recreation percent does embed a piece extra story than common: There are 4 households already dwelling in the town, 3 with bios that hint at a connection to the StrangerVille thriller. I am intrigued.

After I move my Sim into a secure little trailer, she’s greeted by means of the usual welcome wagon of traffic, NPCs who introduce themselves to her. But for some cause, they all have jerky movements, and strive as I might, my Sim can’t talk to them. They are unsettling and creepy, right away establishing the tone for the sport p.C..

A sim in the sims 4: strangerville
Yeah, uh, that’s a touch weird … Maxis / Electronic Arts through Petrana Radulovic
In order to explore the thriller, I need to take a look at my Sim’s aspiration desires. They inform me that I want her to talk to humans about StrangerVille, buy some thing from the Curio store, and examine a locked door in a secret lab. I ship her into the town.

The neighborhood of StrangerVille is actually splendid. The attention to detail and rich, atmospheric elements is a energy of the Sims four video games that goes beyond simply the development of pix from the primary recreation to the fourth. The lighting of the wilderness city, the truth that you may see lizards and tumbleweeds, the little gnomes in front of my pals’ trailer — it’s all lovely.

Three unique kinds of townie Sims (the Sims’ name for NPCs) populate the town: Military Personnel, Scientists, and Conspiracy Theorists. When I choose the “talk to approximately StrangerVille” option, they do offer barely distinctive answers, but they’re alternatively drawing close with their data from the get-go (also a kid tells me to test out a bar, which, k sure).

I spot a number of the premade family Sims and strive to talk to them, imagining what their roles could be in the entire overarching narrative. Very quick, I analyze: definitely nothing.

Everyone inside the town is basically interchangeable within their roles, and vapid with their answers. When my Sim planted a listening malicious program on the wealthy man who has an evil persona trait and is supposedly mayor of the city (like, c’mon, that should give me something), all I found out was that his favourite coloration become blue. I in the end come to recognize why those unusual matters are occurring, however by way of now not tying the thrilling townies to the plot, the story fails to impress.

Still, gambling through the mystery is fun enough. At one factor, authorities dealers come to my Sim’s house and confiscate her fridge. The possessed Sims are unsettling to encounter. The creepy flowers across the neighborhood get bigger and more abundant because the story goes on. My Sim studies the StrangerVille files so overdue into the night time that she falls asleep inside the library. She assembles a hazmat fit and breaks right into a secret lab.

A sim inside the sims four: strangerville
Evelyn Kingston, Private Investigator, breaches the internal depths of the mysterious lab Maxis / Electronic Arts thru Petrana Radulovic
As with other Sims video games, I believe what this mystery method for my Sims mainly, who I’ve given a backstory in my head. I usually put story into my Sims video games; this % makes it all the extra concrete. Across the Sims community, others take this approach, be it inserting the old Sims 2 characters into this recreation or using their own characters. That is one of the blessings of getting a pretty bare-bones storyline, similar to how the Sims 2 base video games approached their tale treatment.

StrangerVille’s hassle is that it takes a middle-ground method: Fully entrenching the tale in the premade characters and world — like The Sims 2 on PSP did — would provide it extra closure and solutions; however subtler plot points that encourage for a customizable enjoy, like how storylines labored within the Sims 2 PC, might create a distinctive, yet satisfying revel in. But both manner, without an anchor, StrangerVille’s mystery floats ephemerally.

In the end, there is capability — a lot capacity — to revisit and modernize the engrossing storytelling that The Sims 2 video games did so nicely, that it’s disappointing to peer the lackluster finish.

Maybe The Sims four’s subsequent tale-pushed sport p.C. Would possibly construct upon this potential. But I’m sad the homage to my loved Strangetown wasn’t the nostalgia experience I was hoping for.