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News video games 04 April 2023, 16:33

author: Sonia Selerska

The Sims 4 vs Paralives vs Life by You - Similar, Yet Different

What's the difference between The Sims 4, Paralives and Life by You? It's not only the size! We've compared these life-sims and here are our conclusions.

The Sims series has dominated the life simulator market for 23 years, but truth be told, the game has never faced serious competition in the genre. It may be hard to imagine this changing soon, but recently at least two new games were announced that will throw the gauntlet to the iconic series by Maxis.

The first is called Paralives, announced in 2020, created by an independent team of just 11 people. The keynote of the game is simulation from and for the community, in which we will control the lives of characters called Parafolk. The release date isn't known yet.

The second is Life By You, whose early access is slated to begin on September 12, 2023. It's a life-sim developed by a newly created faction of Paradox Interactive called Paradox Tectonic. It includes, among others, Rod Humble, a producer of The Sims 2 and The Sims 3.

The Sims 4, in turn, is the latest (already 9-years-old) installment in the cult series, which these two titles have been compared since they were announced. Rightfully? All three share the same genre, but as we know, the devil is in the details. Therefore, we wanted to analyze the specific differences between them.


The most noticeable differences between The Sims 4, Paralives and Life By You are in their distinct art styles.

  1. The Sims 4 sports much more stylized graphics than previous entries, which initially caused a controversy among fans. However, the game is only slightly cartoonish and works well on many devices, maintaining its charm even at lower graphics settings.
  2. Paralives, in turn, will offer charming graphics reminiscent of a comic book. It's less realistic, with a warm color palette, very nice lightning and shadows, and slick animations.
  3. Life By You is similar, but based on more realistic textures and models. The items and models look a lot like those from Paradox' smash hit, Cities Skylines, but bland character models probably leave much to be desired for some.

Character Creator

One of the most important elements of any life-sim is undoubtedly the character wizard. Graphics are one thing, but the wizard itself may offer access to many shapes of bodies, different clothes, items, accessories, and traits that make the virtual people unique.

  1. The Sims 4 brought extensive tools for modelling the bodies of characters. Thanks to many improvements introduced over the years, the creation mode also lets us determine aspirations, features, gait, favorite topics of conversation, favorite music genres, or gender identity.
  2. The materials published so far by the creators of Paralives show that the character creation system, similarly to The Sims 4, will let us use sliders to shape the body. However, we will also be able to input numbers for heigth, and size of individual body parts. Type of skin and clothes will be freely customizable using the color palette, and it will be possible to edit elements such as eyes or tattoos without maintaining symmetry. The character-creation mechanics of the Parafolk remains a mystery for now.
  3. Life By You's promo materials didn't contain much information regarding the character wizard. We know for sure that it will contain an unlimited choice of colors and, as befits a Paradox game, a very extensive character system. The game's trailer featured characters with up to 10 traits, including those defining upbringing, where they grew up, and family secrets they keep.

Buildings and interior design

Regardless of whether we just want our little humans to have a nice home, personalize the existing models, or play full-on architects without caring about other mechanics, building is an inseparable part of life sims.

  1. The building system of The Sims 4 has as many fans as opponents. Without cheats, it's rather limited and buggy, but on the other hand, it enables you to create pretty sophisticated constructions. Buildings can be placed on predestined fields, using many types of parcels.
  2. One of the first aspects of Paralives that the team proudly announced was the system of building and furnishing houses. It is supposed to provide a lot of freedom, allowing you to set up walls at any angle and edit the length, size and color of elements. If The Sims' mesh is your biggest enemy, Paralives may be your salvation.
  3. The best way to describe the capabilities of the building creator in Life By You, in turn, is total freedom. According to the announcements, we will be able to edit features of individual objects ourselves, or even create our own items in addition to designing and building houses themselves. It will also be possible to place buildings anywhere on the map, without the restrictions of parcels.

Game world

Individual aspects of each game are placed in its world and constrained by its rules. In the case of life-sims, the neighborhood we inhabit often determines our engagement in the simulated life and level of attachment to our characters.

  1. The Sims 4 surprised fans of the series familiar with the previous parts by abandoning the open world. In order to visit individual locations, we must therefore go through the inevitable loading screens. Individual worlds, however, offer many interactions with the environment (e.g. places to fish, treasures to dig or secret passages), while not demanding so much from our computers and consoles. Unfortunately, the base version of the game offers only 3 worlds, but with all the additions, there are already 23 of them, with each having its own unique attractions and its own characteristic atmosphere.
  2. We don't have much information about the Paralives game world. However, it's supposed to be open, enabling players to create individual parcels freely, and adjust their shape and size. They will be available for purchase, renovation, and are also supposed to have a history recorded by the game. In many materials about the game, we could also notice the different seasons and weather conditions in the virtual city.
  3. Watching the first trailers of Life By You, one of the most outstanding elements of the game is the detailed and highly developed world. Our neighborhood is supposed to be open and we should be able to traverse it on foot or by driving a car. The creators also suggest that we will be able to create our neighborhood practically from scratch and adapt it to our liking. At any time of the game, we should to be able to look inside other buildings, enter functional shops or offices and take control of each person.

Character Interactions

Social interactions form the bedroc of every human life, even the virtual one (apart from hermits). If the relationships of your heroes are an important element of life-sim gameplay, here's a breakdown of these mechanics for each of the discussed games.

  1. Sims' relationships are primarily based on conversations, but they can also be built by interactions like gifting or taking photos together. However, they have poor memories and do not react to social events in the long term.
  2. The relationships are another element of Parafolks' that the developers didn't explain in detail so far. Most likely, they will function in a familiar way, giving us control over individual situations, similar to The Sims 4.
  3. Life By You is supposed to offer a dialogue system similar to those found in visual novels. We will be able to rely look up the consequences of given actions. In addition, the game will supposedly allow writing dialog lines on our own, and watch speech bubbles of characters throughout the map at any time.

Most unique elements of each

As you could see, the games offer gameplay elements of varying similarity. However, each of them has several features that make them unique. Below, you will find a summary of notable features of these games that didn't fit in the above categories, or that just deserve a special mention.

  1. The Sims 4, with the community developed over the years, enjoys countless mods that customize all aspects of the game. The ever-growing number of expansions, despite their price and varying degree of functionalities they introduce, also gives us a chance to make the gameplay perfect for our individual needs. The famous game is also the most reliable one, because after all it is the only one on the market. In case of the upcoming titles, all we have for now are promises from the developers that they will be supported and updated for a few years after release. In addition, this is also the only game of the three (according to current information) to be available on both PCs and consoles.
  2. Paralives is the only game on this list created by an independent team that will naturally be the closest to the needs of the fanbase. While it is the most mysterious of the three, you may also still have a chance to contribute to its creation, thanks to the impressive relationship that the developers are building with the community.
  3. Life By You, in turn, offers the most advanced world. The very first trailer announced unique systems, giving additional opportunities to diversify our experience, including the creation of events, shops, competitions, quests, recipes, skills, traits and collectibles. It also has many gameplay elements that are only available in The Sims 4 after you pay for the DLCs.

A full-fledged comparison will only be possible after Paralives and Life By You are released. It's possible that at that point, it will already be possible to compare them with the upcoming Project Rene, instead of 9-year-old The Sims 4. Still, we can at least see that there are significant differences between the upcoming life sims that will make them something more than just a copy of The Sims.

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