‘Sims 4: Parenthood’ Review: Raising A Kid Just Got Way Too Real

  • OS X
  • Windows
  • Simulator
NOTE: This article is a contribution and do not necessarily represent the views of Player One.
This moody teen is going through a phase.
This moody teen is going through a phase. Sims 4 / EA

Just like in real life, being a good parent means being very involved and engaged in your child’s life. Between helping them with school projects, cleaning up paint all over the floor, talking teens through mood swings, and disciplining bad behavior with time outs, there will be little to no “me time” playing this game pack. If both parents have a full-time job, raising more than one child is going to be even harder. When there’s three, forget it. The house is always going to be a mess and there’s lots of farting and burping and swearing and shouting and yelling. Parenthood includes some of the most challenging gameplay in The Sims 4 and that’s what really makes this game pack stand out.

This moody teen is going through a phase.
This moody teen is going through a phase. iDigitalTimes

The character value system is almost like another set of skills, except they will have permanent impact on the Sim in the form of inherited traits that correlate to how well you develop the five categories: Manners, Responsibility, Conflict Resolution, Empathy and Emotional Control. However, filling the bar of these temporary behavioral skills does not come naturally or with time. You must actively play as both the child and parent to max out each, which proves to be quite difficult for casual play, especially with a large family or a big house.

The "I'm a bear!" phase is in full swing.
The "I'm a bear!" phase is in full swing. iDigitalTimes

However, upon completion, developing these traits are rewarding, since the behaviors the children develop are a direct outcome of parenting style. Prompts like Chance Cards, which come into play when your child asks for advice or gets into a situation at school, are another opportunity to shape character values without straightforward gameplay cues. They are called chance for a reason, because how you choose to respond always negatively impacts one character value while positively affecting the other. Chance cards, in addition to having to simultaneously develop the parenting skill as you go, make character value building less straightforward and more fun.

A father helps his daughter with a school project.
A father helps his daughter with a school project. iDigitalTimes

Childhood phases also shake up the ability to character build efficiently, which adds another layer of complexity to the gameplay in this pack. Just like in real life, no matter how good a parent you are, your child is going to act up and make mistakes. These phases are no different. There is nothing you can do as a parent to make your child less angry or distant or clingy. You just have to hope some of the character values you have instilled in them -- like coping with feelings or impulse control -- influence how they react to the situation.

That face you make when your dad asks you to take out the trash.
That face you make when your dad asks you to take out the trash. iDigitalTimes

There were a few standout objects in this game pack that support the new gameplay (even though bunk beds weren’t included, sigh), such as the block-building table for children. It’s an amazing family activity that I personally hope more kids would enjoy today, instead of being on their phones all the time, and I appreciate the Sims for keeping that alive outside of daycare centers. In fact, the focus of and importance of parental involvement in this pack is spot on because the activities and social interactions mirror great parenting strategies in real life. The school projects are super fun to watch Sims build and the fact that parents can help makes the activity even cuter. The doctor playset is also just adorable.

As far as the non-gameplay assets in this pack, the mason jar lighting is a unique addition to build-buy mode, as well as the hanging christmas lights (which I definitely stole from the attic christmas box and put in my room as a teen). The two rugs included also have amazing colorway options, both bright, designs, and plain. The square living room table with toys spread all atop the surface gives a rundown family home vibe to any room. The bread box, drying rack, elementary school-style bathroom sink and pink storage shelves, as well as more countertop objects also help fill the house with clutter. The kids desk chair is straight out of the elementary school classroom. However, it’s the throwback stove, fridge and island cabinets that stand out the most. The definition on the hinges and handles are incredible.

Sibling rivalries can get bad, especially if there is a mean streak phase in play.
Sibling rivalries can get bad, especially if there is a mean streak phase in play. iDigitalTimes

The best part of the new Create-A-Sim items are the children’s clothes, such as the ripped sweater, and new curly hair and braided hairstyles, which add some diversity to the hair options. Like the pair included with the plaid shirt around the waist, we need more jeans with ripped knees and more youthful cuts. The full body avocado, grape, pineapple and strawberry bear costumes are hilarious.

This kid is not happy.
This kid is not happy. iDigitalTimes

To put it simply, Parenthood has the generational gameplay I was hoping for in a meaningful family-themed game pack. And if you don’t want to play it seriously, there is tons of chaos and mayhem and farting waiting for you. New silly social interactions, such as “stealthily make fun of adults” and “convince the world is flat” are perfect for when you just want to sit back and break the new rules like grounding and curfew.

'Sims 4: Parenthood' brings the attitude.
'Sims 4: Parenthood' brings the attitude. iDigitalTimes

The more interactive and engaging gameplay means more actual enjoyment and less just fast forwarding and waiting (or cheating) for your kids to age up to adults. It may sound grim, but with the Parenthood gameplay, it’s definitely more enticing to play your Sims until they die. Being motivated and invested in continuing the family legacy is refreshing because as a player, you actually see your hard work pay off in front of your eyes as your Sim children grow into young adults.

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