Simulation games are an interesting breed. The majority can almost always be tied to another genre, whether it’s sports, racing, strategy, or whatever. Last year, I also covered the best simulation games of 2016. 2017 might seem like a bit of a rehash, at least in the case of a title.
Where simulation tends to shine is with surprise hits like Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Kerbal Space Program. The genre still suffers from the same problem for years. Incredibly boring titles with little to no fun or some don’t even work and just capitalize on the word simulator.
There’s always room for a surprise, as this list will show. So without further ado, let me introduce you to the best simulation games of 2017.
Be sure to check out our other lists of the best games of 2017: RPGs, Shooters, Adventure Games, Fighting Games, Action/Adventure Games, Strategy Games, Horror Games, Indie Games , platform games.
Football Coach 2018 (9/10)
Another year, another Football Manager. As negative as this line may seem out of context, it really isn’t. Sports Interactive has always provided a great experience with Football Manager, that’s for sure. What is also certain is the fact that some entrants to the series do not progress as much as others. Fortunately, Football Manager 2018 is not one of those participants. This new version has made progress in a wide range of areas of the game.
Last year I covered a number of flaws found in some new features of Football Manager 2017. This included new positions like Data Analyst and Sports Scientist. In the new version, these positions now have a function. These two roles allow the introduction of a multitude of new graphs and tables to further develop the information available to you. Every area of the game has been improved thanks to this and especially the new dynamics system. This system divides your team into social groups and the influence players have on others.
Along with these aspects, the match-day engine has been significantly improved. The recon system has been tweaked to greatly increase the realism of the game. The only part I can’t attest to even now is the pre-game tactics and how they influence the game to come. I can just reiterate what I said in my review: the inevitable question for any annual iteration is simple: “Is it worth it?” The answer is a resounding yes. The new features have brought Football Manager closer to the beautiful game. The increased realism and control, along with an increased propensity for emergent storytelling, make Football Manager worth picking up from the old guard, as well as the New.
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4
Everything is, literally, about everything. Or, to be more precise, everything the game actually offers. From microbe to star and even galaxy, you’ll find yourself jumping and living the life of, well, everything. Until you leap beyond your galaxy to the tiniest microbe of a whole new plane of existence. It’s a sense of scale that, surprisingly, despite the size and scale, feels empty.
Artist and developer David OReilly began his work on games in the movie Her. Or, should I say, working on the animations of the movie where we were playing video games. This inspired the work of actual video games, the first being Mountain. Much like Mountain, you’ll find yourself interacting with what you would think of as inanimate objects, each with their own story to tell.
It is the joy of Everything. You want to communicate with other objects of similar size before going up or down. Have a conversation and hear reflections of anything from a star to a penguin or anything in between. Some naturally have a negative outlook, understanding that they have no control over their path in life. Others offer a more positive view and they will be happy to dance with you, grateful for your company. It’s not a game for everyone, but everything is special. Collect everything you’ve inhabited and escape into the philosophy of Alan Watts.
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
The Long Dark is the culmination of survival games. In one of the three modes offered, survival, challenge or story, you will find yourself in the most realistic survival games available. It’s the attention to detail that makes me consider this a simulation game. It’s a survival simulator if there ever was one. Manage your calorie intake and expenditure in the most detailed nutrition system available. Keep an eye on the temperature, but also the impact of the howling winds of the Canadian wilderness.
As you advance or survive, your time in the desert will increase your ability to survive. Recovering as much as you can from whatever you encounter is essential. Are the shoes starting to fall apart? I hope you have some leather to fix them. It is starting to get cold ? Breaking that table for firewood is definitely a great idea now.
Survival mode is where The Long Dark is at its best. Every action you take leads to more distance traveled and more survival time. The world and its remaining inhabitants (watch out for bears and wolves) are out to get you. In one of the best looking games out there, The Long Dark will test you in a way that no other survival game has managed and looks downright fantastic while doing it.
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
I have a lot of sympathy for the emergency services. Why? Well, I had to call them personally or arrange for them to be called multiple times. By day, I am a prison guard. I have been personally involved in events that involved the intervention of the police, ambulances or firefighters. Not to mention our own response within the establishment. The hectic nature of judging whether an incident actually requires emergency services and then how to prioritize the incident is something you will take on in the role of 911 operator.
Judgment calls are everything in 911 Operator. Is the person who complains that a neighbor’s television is too loud just a nuisance? Maybe, or it could be that the neighbor is disabled or, worse, dead. But while the worst is a possibility, a theft occurring elsewhere is certainly real, so are you allocating all available resources to that, or at least giving the noise complaint one? For me, the robbery was a priority. Prioritizing one over the other will often lead to disastrous consequences, at least for someone.
When launched, it had a number of bugs and flaws. Luckily, Jutsu Games has improved the game with patches and post-launch support. The 911 Operator becomes attached to you very quickly and compels you to keep going. Of course, the meta-game aspect isn’t the most realistic of having to answer calls to earn more money, to buy resources that you can naturally start with. It is, after all, a game and offers a reason to be as efficient as possible. Unfortunately, this may lead to the untimely death of old man Jones when you dismiss his neighbors’ complaints that his television was too loud.
Work towards more – Simulation games in 2017
Having only covered four widely varying games, it might seem like the year hasn’t been special for the genre. Although there were a few averages to the top games this year. Aven Colony (5/10) and Urban Empire (6/10) are prime examples. There were also a number of other strong titles. The console version of the exceptional Cities: Skylines is one of them, but being a port cannot be counted for the list. Here are some other interesting simulation games to check out:
There is definitely a game or two missing from this list. It might even be this game, the best simulation game you’ve ever played that has been downright overlooked. If so, be sure to let me know in the comments.