Simulation games are a great way to detach from your real responsibilities. Instead, they give you a range of virtual responsibilities, from the realistic to the bizarre. Sometimes they find themselves strapped to massive gaming rigs, incorporating gamepads, steering wheels, and multiple monitors to create the most realistic experience possible. But simulation games don’t have to be ultra-realistic to be immersive. Here, we’ve rounded up eight of the best examples of the genre you can play on Android.
Stardew Valley is an incredibly popular game, bringing elements of classic farming simulators like Harvest Moon into an original, modern game. At first glance, it looks like a fairly simple farming simulation; he starts you off nice and slow, asking you to plant and water a handful of parsnips. But Stardew Valley could best be described as a community simulator. As you complete your tasks and meet the inhabitants of the valley, you will find yourself drawn into the complex web of relationships, dreams and challenges that make up the small community.
Stardew Valley, filled with magic, monsters, and surprisingly resilient plants, is a truly brilliant game. It may sound ridiculous to say, but the Stardew Valley community feels real.
Game Developer Tycoon
Playing video games is fun, but we often forget how much work there is behind the scenes. Although Game Dev Tycoon offers a charming and simplistic take on game development, it doesn’t go out of its way when it comes to telling you how terrible your game is.
Developing a game in Game Dev Tycoon involves selecting the features you want to include in your game and deciding how much development time to spend on each. After your picks, your minions will struggle, as you nervously watch your winnings dwindle. After your game is released, you’ll be subjected to a series of brutally honest reviews, in which you’ll learn the ultimate truth of all creative projects: sometimes people will just hate it. In that, at least, Game Dev Tycoon is the most realistic simulation on this list.
For those who haven’t heard of this underground hit, Goat Simulator is a simulator in the loosest possible sense. It’s honestly more of an RPG, but not including it in this list would just be wrong.
In an alternate universe, goats have the power of the gods and the desire for destruction. Goat Simulator offers a realistic view of the life of these goats, allowing you to bounce, tumble, and smash your way through a myriad of animate and inanimate objects. Earn in-game points for breaking objects and earn imaginary points for uncovering any deliberately ignored bugs. It’s just a ton of fun.
Pocket City is the ideal Android city building simulation. Its developers know that you’re not going to sit for hours in front of a giant screen, so they don’t bother to bombard you with a ton of complex features. Instead, Pocket City provides a casual city-building simulator that provides just the right amount of incentives to keep you building. Although you can build at your own pace, you will be given optional quests that are easily done with a little work. These quests reward you with buildings and money to raise your city to greater heights (and widths).
Rollercoaster Tycoon Classic
Rollercoaster Tycoon Classic is an Android port of the first two games in the Rollercoaster Tycoon series. Released in 1999 and 2002 respectively, these games are complex simulators in which you are tasked with creating a successful roller coaster park. Not only will you be building a safe and fun roller coaster (veteran players may laugh at the word “safe” here), but you’ll be managing the happiness of your guests to ensure the park’s financial success.
This Android port is a brilliant introduction to the series, as it streamlines the dated interface into a much more user-friendly experience. Old school players won’t be disappointed either.
My time at Portia
My Time at Portia is a simulation similar to Stardew Valley. Tasked with becoming the best builder in town, you’ll alternate building items in your workshop with romantic NPCs and duels against enemies. Unlike Stardew Valley, it’s a fully 3D world that offers a much larger area to explore. This is another great choice for those who love community simulators.
Fallout Shelter may seem like a cheap spinoff of the Fallout franchise at first glance, but under the hood is an absolutely brilliant simulation game. You take control of a group of nuclear apocalypse survivors and are tasked with keeping them alive. You’ll need to manage jobs, defenses, repopulation, and expansion to ensure your Vault dwellers lead happy and successful lives. Don’t be put off by its cheap appearance: it’s a shining gem in the muddy sea of free games.
Of all the simulation subgenres, racing sims surely suffer the most on mobile. Difficult to immerse yourself in the twists and turns of a high-speed circuit when you only have a touch screen. Although you can connect a gamepad, it’s not a useful solution for most of us. Grid Autosport solves this problem by creating a genuinely challenging racing game that seeks to capture the feel of racing rather than precisely replicate movement. A range of customization options means you can tweak the racing experience to find what works best for you. The tilt controls are particularly fun and certainly the most immersive.
Simulation games can differ significantly in content. Whether you’re looking for realistic racing or goofy goat antics, we hope you’ve found something in this list that can help you pass the hours. Be sure to check out our roundup of the best Android games for 2022 to see the best games the Play Store has to offer across all genres.
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