Sandbox simulation games have a habit of turning stale for me. And, despite the ever climbing cost, The Sims 4 has been no exception. With no real questline to keep me occupied, my trawling through the official content had turned to teadium, cheats had cut out the challenge, and fulfilling whims had folded into monotony. I needed something to pull me back from the edge of Simicide and remind me why I got into Simming in the first place.
Thankfully, just as I was about to delete the pool ladder for a laugh, I uncovered one of the most effervescent, creative Simming communities out there, along with a cure to help me beat back the bane of sameness: Berry Simming.
Ever used mint as an accent colour? Or designed a yellow house that doesn't look like a garish slab of butter? Well I can now say that I have, and I'm glad I tried it.
Berry Simmers are a vibrant lot. They've taken to embellishing their eye-popping, rainbow-related playthroughs with elaborate social media-bound lore that extends across generations of super-saturated, sweetly named Sims.
According to an absoludicrous blog post, Berry Simming was founded by the Tumblr blogger known as 'Berry.' It was her 'Splash of Color' spin on a standard legacy challenge birthed the Berry Pastel Rainbowcy challenge—the first of many Berry Legacy challenges that now litter the internet's periphery.
My intro to the scene came in the form of lilsimsie and alwaysimming's Not So Berry challenge. This is one of the recommended Berry starter challenges because, as the name suggests, it's not as intensely flavourful as the others. There's no need for excessive mods, making it a much lighter jaunt. But for me, it struck such a great balance between freedom and constraint that it actually felt like more of a challenge. Let me explain.
There are a few different play styles for Berry Simming, depending on how many mods you're willing to engorge your game files with. You can either go base Vanilla (realistic Sims, bright clothing and furniture), Banilla (Berry hair and eye colours, with natural skin tones), or you can go full Violet Beauregarde, complete with an unabashed wash of colour over every inch of their furniture, fittings, and fixtures.
The Not So Berry challenge is generally played either Vanilla or Banilla. So, I couldn't get away with just plastering everything with a monochromatic maelstrom. I actually had to put a great deal of thought into pairing each generation's main colour with different woods, patterns, and textures, as well as the next generations scattered toys. Otherwise, I'd have ended up with an utterly unlivable, carnivalesque eyesore.
And after spending weeks in Sim time perfecting each room, finally tying it together with just the right rug or painting to make the clashing colours work, I was still excited by the vividness of the characters living on my lots.
Not only has the Not So Berry challenge managed to push me out of my comfort zone in terms of design sensibilities, the simple and novel restrictions on my Sims trait and career combinations gave them some real depth. It was negative traits—the trauma and little foibles—that were lacking in my previous playthroughs.
This time around, my Sims felt more lifelike. And I was constantly discovering new interactions, unlocking interesting career rewards, and generally being surprised by the weird little narratives that unfolded as a result of their larger-than-life personalities.
Case and point, my highly charismatic 'rose' generation Sim didn't have a baby until later in life, after a promiscuous bout in her younger years. She had to schmooze death countless times so her hubby could have one last Christmas with her and the kids. But it wasn't until after their (suspiciously simultaneous) death that I discovered her fast-talking little brother had wooed her husband long ago and, having taken up the role as primary carer for her teenage daughters, was now flirting with her husband from beyond the grave.
Till death do us part? Utter scandal.
So while there are loads of Sims challenges that encourage you to explore, the Not So Berry challenge does so without drowning the creative element that drew me to the game in the first place in an overcomplicated mess of scorekeeping and inconceivable goals.
There's no pressure to achieve every single milestone, with the main emphasis being placed on creative exploration and emergent stories. Yet it still feels like a challenging experience. It pushes your design skills to their limits, and helps you overcome those decorating hang-ups, while providing an awesome base for lore to emerge.
So, if you feel like stretching your imagination and potentially getting into a whole new world of delicious décor and flavourful facades, think about giving Berry Simming a go. It might just be the thing that brings you back into truly savouring your Sims 4 gaming experience.