Life by You is the new life simulation in development at Paradox Tectonic, and it obviously positions itself as a competitor to the storied Sims franchise. At Gamescom in Cologne, TechRaptor was provided an in-depth look at live gameplay of the current build, and it looks like it has a lot of potential.
Meet Your "Human" in Life by You
During our demo we followed a day in the life of a "human" (this is what the developers call their characters) named Ronnie. Being introduced to Ronnie we were shown what makes her unique. She has her own personality traits like Troublemaker and Athletic, has relationships with others that she regularly interacts with, and also has a job.
It was explained that Ronnie's personality traits influence what she can do and how she will spend her time when not directly controlled by the player.
Humans all have basic food and sanitation needs that you'll have to pay attention to when controlling a character. For those who don't want to worry about making sure there are frequent bathroom breaks, it was explained that these needs can be disabled.
Ronnie also has likes and dislikes that will be influenced by her personality. For instance, she's athletic so she likes exercise. This is good since she works as a spin instructor at the local gym, one of the many businesses and establishments available on the game's map.
Jobs are measured using a progression system that affects a human's professional life. As they spend time working they can become more proficient in their jobs and advance in their career.
Job progression in Life by You is represented as a series of work tasks that your human will be assigned. After completing a number of tasks there will then be a promotion quest that will appear.
Career advancement won't just mean they earn more money, but can also unlock more skills and activities for your human to participate in.
We saw a conversation between Ronnie and a coworker, with topic options appropriate to the workplace. Players control the conversation choosing from a variety of communication options, You could, for instance, strike a deal to talk positively about each other during peer reviews to achieve mutual advancements in their career or badmouth them in front of the boss.
Depending on the approaches you take in conversations this could lead to a deepening friendship or a rivalry in the workplace. Improving or worsening your relationships with other characters will have a variety of other potential implications as you continue playing.
Life by You's Dialogue Choices Are An AI-Free Zone.
It's worth mentioning that the conversations that humans participate in are all written by members of the development team. The point of not using any AI generation was explained as a way to ensure when Life by You launches that it will be fully playable offline.
The map is an open world so you and your human can explore it freely. When not exploring the world by foot there are also a variety of vehicles that your human can drive around in. In your human's leisure time, they can also enjoy gardening, take care of their homes, and participate in other leisure activities that you might expect in a life simulation title.
If your human is one to pick up hobbies or skills in their free time instead of lazing about they'll be able to do so. One of the crafting skills that we were shown was cooking. A human can not only learn to cook but also unlock new recipes, while some recipes unlock by simply cooking more there are others that will unlock via quest progression.
Another crafting skill shown was flower arrangement where your human could create a new piece of decor for their house. We were particularly impressed that the crafted item's appearance was different based on what flowers were used in the crafting process.
Items that can be purchased come in various levels improving their quality and efficiency. For instance, there are 9 different TV sets. The type of item a human has might also interact with their likes and traits. A human who likes electronics or is materialistic will enjoy a more expensive TV.
Outfits, houses, vehicles, and even the map itself are fully customizable in Life by You. There is a ton of room for creativity in Life by You, which certainly highlights that Second Life heritage even before you delve into modding. The customization tools are very deep but appear to be very intuitive and easy to pick up even for beginners.
Of course, you're not stuck with Ronnie (or whatever human you create), as you can change to someone else at any time, and the human you've left behind will simply go about their day according to their personality, ready for you whenever you may want to come back.
Does Life by You Support Modding?
As mentioned before, modding is fully supported. Players will have access to all the tools used by the developers themselves. Paradox Tectonic aims to launch "the most moddable open world sim" game on the market.
Modders won't just be able to make new objects to fill your Life by You world but can even create completely unique personality traits that can help shape the humans in your world.
The release of the early access has been delayed considerably, from September 12, 2023, to March 5, 2024. This certainly shows that Paradox Tectonics is serious about creating a compelling experience right from the get-go.
This was a feedback-driven decision and the developers are confident it will result in a better game.
Could Life by You Be a Worthy The Sims Competitor?
Ultimately, the genre has been dominated by The Sims franchise for a long time, for better or worse. Many fans of life simulators are ready for something new and fresh. Life by You appears to have plenty of potential to be that something.
The one element that, at least for now, appears to be a bit shaky is the visuals. While they're not bad per se, it's obvious that there's a lot of work to be done on this front in order to storm The Sims' gates with all guns blazing.
We'll have to wait and see what Life by You's early access will bring, but the abundance of options, the focus on empowering modding, and the open approach to player feedback are certainly promising.
Life by You was previewed in person at Gamescom 2023 with Paradox Tectonic