If you’re a fan of The Sims and Sims-like experiences, it’s quite an exciting time; work on The Sims 5, or whatever it’ll be called, is officially underway. Then there’s the imminent release of Paradox’s Life By You following a number of delays, and even the charmingly lo-fi Tiny Life for old-school Sims fans. The game that’s generated perhaps the most excitement since its unveiling in 2019, however, is Paralives, and after a long old wait – and five years of crowdfunding support – its developer has announced it’ll be entering early access next year.
That bit of information comes via Paralives’ new live mode gameplay video (live mode in Sims parlance is the bit where digital chracters actively go about their daily business, as opposed to the customisation-focused build mode) which focuses on the life of Anisa as she moves into a new apartment and begins to get to know the neighbourhood and her new neighbours.
There’s a look at how a Para’s personality can be created – initially by raising or lowering their physique, mind, creativity, and charisma attributes, as well as adding a “vibe”, social perk, talent, and various lifestyle toggles – and after that it’s time to go outside.
First, Anisa looks for a job at the local coffee shop – with applications requiring Paras to have reached certain levels across a number of specific, job-relevant skills – then, with some cash in hand, a delve into build mode provides her with a new guitar to plunk away on. This fulfils one of her needs and wants, and improves her guitar skill and music knowledge at the same time – the latter one of several ‘umbrella’ skills making it easier to learn sub-skills as they increase.
Another successful day at work gives her another upgrade point to spend on a new skill, perhaps improving her current job level or a related skill that might prove valuable elsewhere. Then there’s a look at group interactions, and how filling a Together Bar unlocks options for players to select – presented as context-specific Together Cards – so they can develop relationships as they choose. And as Parafolk explore their social side, they’ll earn upgrade points that can be spent to evolve aspects of their personality, turning their “serious” vibe into “studious” or “hardworking” one, for instance, which grants them certain boons.
Elsewhere, there’s a look at group activities and some of the different lots available for socialising. And things wrap up with a glimpse at romance – again driven by contextual Together Cards – and broader relationships, with different townies able to be more than just friends, enemies, acquaintances, or lovers. They can, for instance, be neighbours, or guitar buddies, or former classmates, and these connections impact the Together Cards you’ll see as you interact, and the ways relationships can evolve.
It all points to a game eager to put its own distinctive stamp on the familiar Sims formula, and players eager to get their hands on Paralives will finally have an opportunity to do so next year when it launches into Steam early access. “Even if there will be bugs and some important features missing,” Paralives Studio explains in its announcement post, “we think Paralives’ Early Access will be quite enjoyable. Players who like to create characters and build houses will have a lot of tools and content to get creative with and the live mode will have its core features established which will allow people to create great stories for their Parafolks.”
Paralives already has a detailed roadmap showing exactly which features will be included on release into Steam early access and which – such as cars, bikes, pets, weather, seasons, basements, and swimming pools – will be added as development continues. Paralives Studio has also confirmed all new features – including those added after full release – will be free, with no paid DLC. “As a small team without any shareholders to please,” it explains, “we believe the money we make from selling the game alone will be enough to support us and the development of free updates in the long run.”
As a long-time Sims fan, Paralives has certainly caught my eye, and it’ll be interesting to see how it stacks up against Paradox’s rather charmless effort, Life By You, which is currently due to launch into Steam and Epic Games early access on 4th June.