I've been playing The Sims 4 on and off since it launched back in 2014, and while I've had a lot of fun, when it comes to building a house I'm always paralysed by choice. Presented with a massive lot, I never know where to start, what to build, or how to decorate it. There's simply too much stuff to choose from, and I end up just moving into a pre-built house.
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You know when you scroll through Netflix for 25 minutes trying to find something new to watch, then just end up watching The Big Lebowski for the hundredth time? It's basically that.
Then I read Chris's article about Tiny Living, a new Stuff Pack that limits your living space to a maximum of 100 tiles—the size of some people's bathrooms in a regular Sims house. Install the DLC and you'll be able to access a new type of residential lot, with three tiers of titchiness: Small Home, Tiny Home, and Micro Home. The latter gives you a paltry 32 tiles to work with, which has the surprise side effect of turning The Sims 4 into a kind of puzzle game.
How do you squeeze everything a person needs for a comfortable life into such a small space—and without it feeling like one of those bleak £5,000-a-month London flats advertised by unscrupulous landlords? Thankfully the top end of the graph, the 100-tile variant, gives you a more feasible space to work with, and it's possible to make some really interesting houses—which I discovered when I recently became hopelessly addicted to building them.
I should mention that I'm not playing the actual game. I'm just building small houses, which my sims will never set foot in. I find creating houses in The Sims 4, then decorating them in an aesthetically pleasing manner, oddly therapeutic. And this combined with the puzzle-solving aspect of Tiny Living turned out to be a perfect storm. When the world gets too heavy, I find myself firing up The Sims 4 and shifting all my focus to figuring out the most efficient place to put a shower, or what kind of rug will really tie the room together.
I play games largely for the sense of escapism they give me, but I never expected The Sims 4 to be one of the games I turned to when I need refuge from reality. Tiny Living is a pretty slight package, with only a few new pieces of themed furniture. But the idea of having limited space to work with—and earning bonuses for doing so, such as cheaper utility bills—has really refreshed the game for me. And honestly, I think these minuscule houses are some of the best I've ever built. Maybe one day I'll actually move a sim into one of them, but for now, well, I've just had an idea for another Micro Home.