The absolute strangest simulators out there

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At its core, nearly any game could be considered a “simulator” without having to actually have the word “Sim” in its name. What's Call Of Duty but a retro/modern/futuristic warfare simulator? What's Fallout 4 except for a terrible dad simulator? What's Borderlands if not a pure-awesome simulator?

That being said, many games go out of their way to simulate experiences you won't normally get to try out, like city planning with Sim City, or living the Satanic nightmare jetpack goat life with Goat Simulator. That's not even the most odd sim out there, with everything from I Am Bread (its exactly what it sounds like) to Soda Drinker Pro (sigh...) arriving in recent years.

Despite how utterly un-marketable these games appear to be, they keep coming, and in greater numbers -- probably due in no small part to Goat Simulator making buckets of cash and becoming an online phenomena (if the developers had any integrity, they'd feed those buckets of cash to a goat).

We've already covered some truly bizarre NSFW simulators in the past, like the masturbation sim What's Under Your Blanket or the dick-pic simulator Cobra Club. There's more though, oh so many more, and today we're going to look at nine of the most odd.

Robot Vacuum Simulator 2013

You always wanted to experience the life of a Roomba, right? It's like Katamari, but without the zaniness, or the fun. Did I mention it's in slow motion?

Take special note of the game's title. That “2013” in there makes it clear the developer intended for this to be a Madden-esque affair with new entries every single year... Do Roombas change enough over time to make a sequel worth it?

I guess I can't criticize too heavily. I mean, it is technically the world's most realistic robot vacuum simulation ever, and that's an achievement no one can ever take away from Stoidus Simulations. If you are having trouble sleeping, grab your free download here.

Farming Simulator

This one brings up some big questions about what is defined as “gaming” and whether games should be inherently unrealistic to foster a sense of fun. I mean, why play a simulator of hard work that isn't any fun in real life?

The point of the FPS and RPG genres is that you specifically can't gun down hordes of enemies or cast magic spells in real life. They are an escape from hum-drum reality. On the other side of that coin, someone could play devil's advocate and bring up simulators like Guitar Hero, asking why a person would play a fake guitar when they could pick up a real one.

Despite all that cyclical reasoning with no clear cut answers, people seem to seriously love this series, as Farming Simulator 2015 has overwhelmingly positive reviews at Steam. The new 2017 is already in the works and is slated to land at the end of the year simultaneously on consoles and PC.

Street Cleaning Simulator

I want you to imagine GTA, but rather than gunning down rival drug dealers, having fun with prostitutes, or building up a criminal empire you are... cleaning the streets.

Not euphemistically. Not Clint Eastwood with a gun “cleaning up the streets,” but literally, actually, cleaning up the streets.

This is a weird class of simulator that is clearly trying to be legit and doesn't seem to realize it's a joke. The reviewers know what's up though. Just take a look at what people are saying at Amazon. Apparently the physics engine at play is less than polished, as the video below demonstrates.

Viscera Cleanup Detail

Ever wonder what happens after Isaac goes through a space station and kills all the Necromorphs? What about when Ripley is done dealing with a bug infestation? Who handles the mess after the space marine from Doom slaughters thousands of demon beasts?

Clearly an under-appreciated guy in a hazmat suit goes through and cleans everything up. That's exactly the premise of Viscera Cleanup Detail, where you don't play the hero of the game: you play the dude who cleans up after the hero.

You can pick up the world's one and only space janitor cleaning simulator at Steam here.

Bear Simulator

This bizarre title racked up $100,000 via crowd funding and is available for $14.99 at Steam.

For a game about the lazy life of a bear, this one has seen a fair share of drama, from relentlessly negative reviews (which have somehow boomeranged the other direction now) to a big old temper tantrum where the developer vowed to stop working on it... and then immediately went back to working on it.

If you want to be a bear I guess go for it, but I can't imagine actually dropping the money on this one and feeling satisfied after.

The Houchi Play

In this creepy perv simulator, you play as a creepy perv who sneaks up on girls without them noticing. When their backs are turned, inch your way forward until you get close enough to touch the unsuspecting girl.

The whole point of this Xbox Marketplace indie title is to unlock galleries where you see the girls in scantily clad cosplay outfits or bathing suits. I feel like maybe we've crossed a line with this one.

Demolition Company

From the makers of Farm Simulator comes another strange physics game, but this one at least sounds more fun than seeding crops and ensuring they got properly watered.

Tearing buildings apart with heavy machinery is at least nominally entertaining: it's like Red Faction, but without the story or anybody shooting at you!

Who's Your Daddy

You've probably already heard of asymmetrical 4 vs. 1 and 7 vs. 1 games like Evolve, Dead By Daylight, and Friday the 13th.

Well, this one's an asymmetrical 1 vs. 1 game, where one player is the daddy trying to keep his infant child safe, and the other player is the baby... trying desperately to commit suicide.

Squiggle into the oven! Drown in the bath tub! Shove a fork into a power outlet! I think we crossed the line again. The makers of that shaken baby app would be proud. If curiosity overcomes shame, you can pick up Who's Your Daddy at Steam.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Another dad simulator, this one has an interesting twist: you also happen to be an octopus pretending to be a human. For some reason you need to go about all sorts of normal tasks (mowing the lawn, getting married, picking up milk from the store) without anyone noticing your octopoid nature.

It's harder than it sounds, as your tentacles stick to everything, and man wasn't meant to move around on squiggly noodle appendages, no matter what the Pastafarians say.

Think Dark Souls is hard? You clearly haven't played Octodad! There's definitely worse ways to spend 15 bucks on Steam (just see the preceding slides).

Hoo-boy, we just went through a whirlwind of crazy and I need a moment to catch my breath.

Who is developing these crazy simulators, but more importantly: who is actually playing them? For many of these titles, honestly it just has to be people who are pointing and laughing and want to take a quick peek at the oddity. It's the freak show rendition of gaming.

I mean, is anyone really addicted to Robot Vacuum Simulator? It seems doubtful. I call this the Hatoful Boyfriend syndrome: nobody bought a game about dating birds because they thought it was going to have excellent dialog and gameplay mechanics.

Octodad is a notable exception, since it's more of a legitimate full game. Oddly, Farming Simulator seems to have a legitimate following that goes well beyond being ironic. In some twist of the human psyche, people like physics-based farming. (Is it just part of the strange gamer love for farming-based games in general?)

Which of these did you think was the strangest, and what bizarre simulators did we miss that should have made the cut? Have you played any of these sims, and what did you like about them?

Published Jun. 23rd 2016

Featured Contributor

Ty splits his time between writing horror fiction and writing about video games. After 25 years of gaming, Ty can firmly say that gaming peaked with Planescape Torment, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a soft spot for games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout: New Vegas, Bioshock Infinite, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. He has previously written for GamerU and MetalUnderground. He also writes for PortalMonkey covering gaming laptops and peripherals.

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