Summer arrived spectacularly in the Sims 4 with the launch of the latest expansion pack Island Living! As you most likely guessed – Island Living is jam-packed with ocean theme, tropical flavors which this Polynesian had to get in and explore as soon as possible! So grab a fruity refreshment, pull up a beach chair and climb on board Gamespace airlines because we’re taking off to the island of Sulani and our Sims 4: Island Living Review!
TUNING IN TO THE SPIRIT OF ISLAND LIVING
Before we even set foot in Sulani lets take a quick detour! I am from an era where Darryl Hannah was my first mermaid crush in the movie “Splash.” In-between there has been multiple mermaid tributes but it wouldn’t be until just this year that mermaids made it back to the forefront of my fascination with Aquaman so of course, I had to attempt creating Arthur Curry! However to get an even more authentic island experience he shares his household with his great-aunt and her children, plus their families.
Let me emphasize that trying to create extended families in the Sims 4 is a nightmare so thank the Sulani stars that creating a mermaid sim is super-easy! Just check the occult drop down menu where you also have the ability to create a vampire or alien.
New cosmetic choices are shimmering tail palettes, along with ocean orientated chest pieces and mermaid-appropriate eye shadow. You also get additional options to swim, skinny dip or even sleep in the water as one might expect of a “merperson,” with an ability to summon a special Azure dolphin which I was so looking forward to but sadly there wasn’t any ritual or fanfare for such a momentous ability. There are also two new traits including “Child of the Ocean,” allowing your sim to change the weather at the blow of a conch shell. Followed by “Child of the Island,” that grants the ability to summon an Island elemental who will let you know if you are keeping in touch with your culture. Should your connection to Sulani waver you can increase it by taking part in activities such as eating traditional Sulani cuisine or drinking kava.
This is where I really begin to appreciate that the Electronic Arts (EA) Sims 4 development team are genuinely invested in paying homage to actual island cultures just like they have done for many other cultures and identities around the world (and beyond.) Just as I relax down memory lane in my island immersion, I then get jolted back to Sims 4 reality with encounters like when my Sim was able to “mermaid kiss” an elemental, making his wife very angry. Or my new neighbors showed up with kava, in place of the traditional welcome fruit cake. It is a potent relaxant and not recommended at all for large or frequent consumption, causing it to be banned in some countries. So like the dolphin summon I can’t help but think that maybe a more profound reason for kava would be more appropriate for a game enjoyed by many ages and nationalities?
The “Sulani Volcanic BBQ Searer” makes me a little homesick. I miss food cooked underground but my wistfulness was soon replaced by endearment when neighbors show up randomly to share spare food they have just like my old neighborhood! Other awesome details that tug, my Polynesian heartstrings occurred straight away in the creation screen where you can apply more tribal tattoo’s and adorn a sim with big “Polyhair,” making me want to immerse in Island Living even more prompting thoughts like – “I wish there was a fade/size slider for tattoo’s'” so elders could have them look as aged/authentic and well-loved as they are. Or “I wish there was multiple hair bands, braid and styles of “Polyhair,” for us no cc or mod players. That’s how Sim 4 works, it reels you in and gets your imagination hooked craving more!
THE REEL SULANI
Speaking of such. Island Living comes with three new part-time jobs along with the updated function of part-time work also being available for adults and elderly! Yes, Fisherman is one of the new part-time career choices along with Diver and Lifeguard. Changes were made to fishing before the Island Living launch giving this activity much-needed life but I admit I would really love to be able to fish from the deck of my house over the water.
Island Living also launched with a new full time, primary career in the form of a Conservationist where you can choose either a political role (Environmental Manager) or a scientific one (Marine Biologist.) So as you can imagine I am filling the Curry tribe with all the nature abiding traits, careers and activities I can to see if they can make a massive impact on Sulani which is a beautiful island but I admit I’ve been swimming around hoping for some adventure as a merman but not really finding any. The island has a bar, a meeting place on the beach but that is about all which is a shame as you can see temples, waterfalls, great hiking spots, places for picnics but unfortunately this isn’t possible so the island currently doesn’t really grab my attention beyond the lushness and water but maybe I can build some exciting additions on the island?!
ON OR OFF THE GRID
The Sims 4 Island Living expansion has a ton of new details, adding new recipes to ovens and cocktail menus. I know I have only scratched the surface as I got wrapped up in my favorite content renovating two builds & creating an off the grid build which is a new trait you can add to your homes, anywhere. What happens is that many items will not work on your lot once this trait is applied, which is a brilliant idea in its infancy requiring more off the grid items not only in building or decor form but also sustainability. There are also a few items that need to be placed back on the off the grid menu like citronella candles as an example so I will be watching every update while continuing to experiment with what we have.
What is super exciting in our building arsenal now are the jet bikes and canoes. You can sit, lie down and navigate them in the water – the best way to see Sulani! Be warned though that you cannot switch to build mode and bring your transport back once it’s off you’re lot and other Sims may also use your items.
The decor Island Living brings to every Sims 4 collection is my favorite not only because it’s so familiar but because there are a lot more curves, rich woods and tropical flower colors. As I keep building I’m transported back in time especially to my childhood where my first years were spent being raised by my grandparents, aunts and uncles. When I built my off the grid home I especially thought of my old chore of sweeping the porch and shoes piled up at the door because you weren’t allowed to wear them inside, red tomato-shaped plastic containers filled with tomato sauce (ketchup) always on the table, long strips of sticky tape hanging from the roof catching flies hanging above it and cans of SPAM. I can hear country music on in the background, someone trying to play the guitar or a ukulele in-tune to the playing music. That’s the power of games and their ability to summon the most distant or nearest memories simply by introducing content that we recognize from our own lives.
Thank you, EA, for giving players the chance to experience parts of Polynesia in so many relevant ways!
Note: Our copy was reviewed on PC with a code provided by PR.