You might think that purposefully killing your sims is as sadistic as you can get in The Sims 4, but that’s nothing compared to how the game forces you to deal with the existential horrors of real-life adulthood. Sims will throw up during the first stage of pregnancy, get fired from work for being a Whistleblower, and let the laundry pile up until they're out of clean underwear.
But dig a little deeper and you'll find some more subtle, yet equally terrifying things that are there just to make your sims miserable on a deep emotional level. Things like home insurance, environmental responsibility, and dealing with the everyday stresses of neighbors and children are all things that most of us have all dealt with in our real lives in one form or another. The Sims 4 just makes those things a little more charming in its own sick and twisted way.
If you have ever lost part of your home due to a fire, flood, or other natural disaster, then you know the joy of dealing with your home insurance company. Aside from taking forever to get the money you need to make a fresh start, the payout is often based on the total depreciated value of the all the items. It's nowhere near enough to replace everything you lost, just the essentials maybe. And forget about compensation for grandma's irreplaceable antiques and original baby photos of your ancestors.
Whoever designed insurance payouts in The Sims 4 knows the sad, sad reality of how this goes down in real life. Just take a look at this tally of items my sim family recently lost in a fire:
Dining room table: 1,500
Dining chairs (x6): 235 each
Couch (x2): 1180 each
Coffee Table: 140
Bookcase (x2): 2,100 each
Table lamp: 45
Unrecoverable possessions and two dead parents: Priceless
Total: 12,275 Simelons
The insurance payout was only 4,700 Simelons, just enough to cover the washer, dryer, and maybe a couch. Mom's bookcase with all the novels she wrote? Dust. That Classical Genius Antique Piano dad wrote all his greatest hits on during his career as a musician? That's never coming back, just like their parents. And instead of life insurance, the kids get a Grimm Reaper that turns their parents to ash and sticks around to cry over their urns like an awkward, estranged relative who somehow found out about the funeral. Money can't fix everything, but it can fix some things if you have enough of it.
Child Protective Services
While many of us, myself included, like to thinly stretch morality in The Sims 4, the developers have set clear boundaries with a few things. Taking care of children, whether you birth or adopt them, is one of those things with a clear moral line. Under no circumstances shall your adult sims willfully starve, emotionally neglect, or let their children squish around in a poop-filled diaper. If you do, your kid will be taken away from your family.
No one shows up at your house to check on the situation. They just know. You get one warning to get your shit together. If you don't immediately become a good parent, little Bobby or Susie is whisked away into nothingness (they literally just fade away) and a bright orange box pops up alerting you to your failure not only as a parent, but as a decent human sim. It says, "Maybe you should consider a goldfish before jumping into parenting again." (I just want to point out that this is terrible advice; goldfish die even if you take care of them.)
Unfortunately, once your kid is taken away they are gone for good. No court hearings. No visitation rights. No adopting them back like you could in previous versions of the game. You shall not pass back into parenthood—until you have another kid. Just like in real life, you can always have another kid if the government takes one away.
The welcoming committe
I've never had neighbors show up unannounced right after I take the last box off the moving truck, but I've heard stories. Sure, their timing may be a little inconvenient—you're tired, cranky, sore, sweaty, smelly, and you've had to carry not one, not, two, but three memory foam mattresses up several flights of stairs—but they're just trying to be friendly by saying hello. (Friendly is leaving gallon jugs of water by the moving van with a welcome note, if you ask me.)
Your new neighbors in The Sims 4 do not do this. They think they have the right to walk up your front porch, ring your doorbell, and expect to be let inside mere minutes after getting settled into your new digs. They'll snoop around your place, too. They'll play games on your computer. Turn on every radio in your house. Raid your fridge for what little snacks you have in there. Break your sink and let it flood the bathroom without telling you. The only housewarming gift they bring is something that serves no practical purpose in that moment: a fruitcake. But don't worry, you don't have to eat it. Your neighbors will do that before they leave.
If you don't let them inside, they'll become seriously offended. Your sim's relationship level will drop with all of them, and they'll never call you to do anything or make any effort to be your friend. Totally worth it.
Dealing with your kid's nightmares
Kids sometimes have nightmares. They watch a scary movie on TV and start to believe Freddy Krueger will eat their souls if they close their eyes. It happens. In The Sims 4, however, it can be a nightly occurrence.
The child sim will wake up at 2:00 AM in a panic. Deep, gurgling sounds emit from underneath their bed. As they stand up to assess the situation, tentacles surrounded by mist slither from the dark underbelly of the mattress. The child might try to reason with the monster, but it never works. They flee the room, crying hysterically and wake up their parents to save them from sudden death.
Your sim parents drag their tired butts to the kid's room and spray the monster under the bed with something that looks like a bottle of Febreze. The kid thanks you, hugs you, then goes back to sleep without an issue. By this point, it's around 3:00 AM. You have to get up at six to go to work. There's no point going back to sleep, so you stumble into the kitchen and fix yourself a cup of coffee.
You stare transfixed into the dark liquid, seriously questioning your decision to become a parent, until your other kid wakes up asking you to spray the monster under their bed.
Pollution will slowly ruin everything
One of the key features of The Sims 4 latest expansion pack, Island Living, is direct control over the island's ecosystem. If you take the initiative to remove trash piles from the beaches, the island nation of Sulani will flourish. Plants become greener. Coral grows larger and brighter. The ocean fills with wildlife. The residents are happier—even the mermaids. It's hard work to maintain an ecosystem where all life can flourish, but well worth it.
However, if you don't make an effort to pick up after yourself, the piles of trash will multiply and pretty soon Sulani will resemble more of a garbage heap. The island of Mua Pel’am is unfortunately the most susceptible to sims with bad intentions. Even if you are making headway on improving the island, it can still attract fish poachers, litterbugs, anti-environmentalists who spread misinformation about your conservation efforts—even seagulls that feed on all the new wildlife.
The harder you work to maintain the ecosystem, the more nature and other sims will try to destroy everything you have accomplished. But if you are able to ward off the forces of evil and keep them at bay, you can fully restore the island and maybe even see a few sea turtles hatch.