Life By You looks like a bonafide competitor to The Sims

This new, ambitious game by Paradox Tectonic aims to create the most moddable and customizable life simulator ever.

Paradox Interactive

The Sims franchise has skirted by for years without a proper rival. There are a handful of great games that are somewhat similar, like Stardew Valley and Two Point Hospital. But none of them really challenge the popular life simulation by Electronic Arts on its own terms, a franchise that has sold more than 200 million copies worldwide. But Life By You, from publisher Paradox Interactive and developer Paradox Tectonic, hopes not only to give The Sims a run for its simoleons, but improve upon the formula by giving players the tools to mod nearly everything in the game.

Early life development

Most of my time spent with the developers at Paradox Tectonic — namely general manager Rod Humble, who worked on Second Life, The Sims 2, and The Sims 3 — was a conversation about the game’s top-level, conceptual design, with only bits and pieces of a hands-off demo running in the background. This wasn’t too much of a surprise because Life by You is still in early development and plans to be available in Early Access on September 12. From there, the team expects that it will need about a year after that with consistent feedback from the community before launching a full release.

That said, Life by You already looks like it has the general spinning-plates gameplay that we have come to expect from a life simulation. After going through a character creator with plenty of options, your character (or you can choose to play an NPC generated by the world) has to juggle and maintain multiple needs like rest, food, drink, hygiene, and social interaction. To earn your keep, you can find an entry-level job and climb the ladder. The developers aren’t certain how many careers will be available at Early Access, but in our conversation they noted hotel management, apparel, office jobs, banking, night club ownership, car dealerships, and creative writing.

To the Workshop

Life By You Laundry
In another life (simulation), I would have loved doing laundry and taxes.

SOURCE: Paradox Interactive

Life By You hopes to advance the genre by widening the ability for players to create pretty much any content that they want. In this way, The Sims 4 feels like Apple, whereas Life By You feels like Android. Yes, The Sims 4 does allow you to customize clothing, characters, and households and then upload them to community creations, but Life By You takes this concept and runs with it.

In addition to the typical creator for towns, lots, and characters, you can also create conversations, events, stories, mods, careers, recipes, traits, quests, and even scripts. You can share something as small and specific as a new lipstick color, to an entire storyline with branching dialogue trees. The idea is to allow players to use the provided creation tools to craft whatever they want and share it for free. There’s no plan for the developers to censor anything that creators make, though I imagine there may be certain objects and storylines they wouldn’t want to include in an official creation sharing tab if that’s going to be part of the game.

Bigger and better

Life by You Dialogue Creation
It looks a little complicated, but you can even make dialogue trees in the game.

SOURCE: Paradox Interactive

Better yet, Life By You looks to have a full open world instead of the lot-based system of The Sims 4, so that you don’t need to continually load into new areas separately. The game promises that it will not have any loading screens when navigating a town, though it’s unclear just how large a lot can be or how many objects a world can hold at this point. The size of a lot or a world will likely be settled during the Early Access period.

Life By You is slated to release in Early Access on September 12. The game can be pre-ordered today on Epic Games Store for $39.99 and is available for wishlisting on Steam.

This preview is based on a hands-off PC demo in early development as shown by the publisher at GDC 2023.

Contributing Editor

Once upon a time, Nick's parents confiscated his Super Nintendo because he was "playing it too much." He has secretly sworn revenge ever since. Nick is now a freelance writer for various video game sites. Powered by iced green tea, he typically plays RPGs of all kinds like Shin Megami Tensei, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout. In his spare time, he follows the latest season of Critical Role.

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