The Sims 4: StrangerVille Review: The creepy little boost the franchise needs

Before I start this review, I’d like to begin with a eulogy. The last time I reviewed a Sims game, I told the story of the vampire Solomon, and the object of his affection – a cantankerous and evasive scarecrow.

I had intended to continue their ill-fated love story in this article, but unfortunately, during the move to the brand new StrangerVille, I made a fatal mistake. Instead of keeping all of my Sims furniture, I decided to sell it for a hefty profit. Patchy, being part of that furniture, disappeared into the ether alongside it. So I begin by saying, the king is dead, long live the king. And now, onto the review.

I loved The Sims 4 StrangerVille. Loved it – because for the most part, it wasn’t like The Sims 4 at all. Instead, it reminded me of my long-cherished Sims 2 handheld games, which deal with everything from alien invasions to mummy resurrections. I’ve talked in the past about the weirdness of the Sims games, and StrangerVille comes running at this weirdness with open arms.

Look at this photograph.

Rather than the usual game packs that come with a few odd items here and there and a fun little features like a spa or a jungle – this pack is story-driven, and fantastic because of it. The moment you find yourself in the desert plains of StrangerVille, your Sims are greeted by bizarre and ungainly Sims, who twitch and speak only in riddles. They refer to a being known as ‘mother’ and invite you to visit ‘the crater’. It’s wild, it’s creepy, and it’s great.

From there, you start to investigate the goings-on in this quiet town, where alien plants spring up out of nowhere, conspiracy theorists claim aliens walk the streets and the sky continues to darken by the day.

What could possibly go wrong?

For the first time in a long time, I felt invested in the story of The Sims. In fact, one of my major complaints with the The Sims 4 is its lack of story. Often, it felt empty and lacked purpose – but the mystery at the heart of this pack drew me in almost immediately.

While the game pack doesn’t have the most staggering amount of content – wily players can finish the main story in a couple of hours – it felt extremely needed, and added a sense of the bizarre that was missing in the game.

Is this norgmal?

Alongside the game’s new plot comes the usual DLC bits and bobs. This pack contains a range of alien paraphernalia like strange plant life, plane crash pieces, secret document piles and even a training bot. Everything a tinfoil hat enthusiast could need to survive the alien apocalypse!

While efforts to return to the weird roots of The Sims have been made with the vampire pack and the low key reintroductions of the PlantSim and Alien life states, it only feels like the franchise truly succeeded with this new game pack.

The future of The Sims 4 seems unclear right now – but I’d love to see the trend of story-first game packs continue. If StrangerVille is anything to go by, the franchise has a bright and extremely weird future ahead.

Highlights: Great and intiguing plot; awesome new items
Lowlights: Short story length
Developer: Maxis, The Sims Studio
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Platforms: Windows PC, Mac iOS

Reviewed on Windows PC with a retail code provided by the publisher.