The Sims has been holding out as one of the best in its class, but The Tenants is an alternative you might want to consider. First, it’s out of Early Access, so it’s good to go. Next, it’s fun. Ok, not the most constructive feedback, but it’s worth a look, especially as you can be an utter bastard in this game. Just sayin’.

As one might surmise, you’re either a landlord or a tenant in the game. You’re the first – well, a ‘writes the theme tune, sings the theme tune’ type as you also get your hands dirty with the renovation side of things and the business element. Unwilling to break the mould that exists in the gaming world that you can’t start a business without a wealthy family member, it’s your uncle that shows you the ropes and gives you the dosh to start renovating property for profit.

The uncle is the MVP in The Tenants, as they can literally do anything, but it’s your time now. Once you’ve earned your badges, you start replying to jobs via mobile and feed through the cash for bigger projects. The game is shown through a top-down view that can be easily manipulated with the mouse – y’know, zoom in and out, swing around to get a better view. You’ll need the latter as, for some reason, you can’t decorate interior walls unless you look at them. I can’t explain myself, Your Honour, it just didn’t feel right.

The Tenants Review - Spill on aisle Uncle
Spill on aisle uncle. Source: Steam

The Tenants Review

Still, moving around the city is simple enough, but you’ll need the screen real estate as there are a load of dialogue windows. It’s all presented quite nicely, but it can be a bit overwhelming as you start, as there are some things to keep an eye out for – specifically your phone. However, the best part of the game for customisation fans is the decorating side. Using The Sims as our base model, you can choose from various decorative elements, furnishings and those key utilities for appliances to function and to keep your tenants happy. If that’s your goal. The available options are quite vast, and the object modelling is very good – there aren’t repeated assets with different palettes (though that is an option).

Touching upon that ‘keep your tenants’ happy, The Tenants does err on the negative side of the landlord stereotype as being a bit of an arsehole, as you will end up housesitting in places, using unruly methods to have them leave, or evicted should it not meet your plans. Each property has three fundamental needs covered by law: electricity, heating and water. Whatever your landlord told you, they’re lying. But remember, folks: this is a game and not real life. Cater to your inner sadist and kick ’em all out, rinse them of their earnings and use that money to buy a new fridge. If you do that in real life, shame on you.  

Yes, the interface can be cluttered, but if you know where to look, the game is intuitive, and I’ve already lost quite a few hours in the game. Predictably, my thing is the customisation element, and there’s a lot to choose from, no doubt, with a lot more on its way. But make note that there isn’t complete and utter freedom to do as you please with a property, as you still need to rent them out to potential tenants. With the larger, more extensive properties, this can be a handful if you ignore what future residents are looking for in a property and the type of thing that will put them off altogether.

This isn’t EA; Ancient Forge Studio are a decent indie team, and The Tenants caters to a wide range of gameplay mechanics that will easily squander your free time. If you have any. The character modelling style is quite a trend at the moment, and the jury’s not decided on that, but the properties and customisable objects are excellent. A sandbox mode is the way to go, but for now, The Tenants gets a thumbs up and is an alternative to The Sims. Sorry, I used that example again. This isn’t The Sims.