The Sims 4’s Tiny Living Expansion Is Secretly A Great Puzzle Game

I live in a small apartment, which makes furniture shopping difficult. But it's also an interesting challenge. I'm always looking for ways to maximise my space, and I'm never happier than when I find something that serves multiple purposes—a wardrobe with a fold-out desk or an armchair with storage in the base. If this makes me sound like the dullest man alive, well, watch out: it'll probably happen to you when you hit 35. I'm giving you this unsolicited insight into my thrilling life because it's the reason I find Tiny Living, a Sims 4 expansion, so compelling. I've never built a big house in any Sims game. I always make small, neat apartments, which is why it feels like Maxis designed this DLC specifically for me.

Tiny Living challenges you with building a house using just 100 tiles—the size of a single room in an average Sims house. You have to fit everything a Sim needs to live a comfortable life in this cramped, limited space, including a bed, bathroom, and somewhere for them to cook. If 100 tiles isn't challenging enough you can try a Tiny Home (max 64 tiles) or a Micro Home (max 32), and this is where the expansion comes into its own. Suddenly, The Sims 4 becomes a great puzzle game. You have to somehow squeeze the entire contents of a house into a space no larger than a toilet cubicle. That isn't too tricky in and of itself, but the real challenge lies in doing it in a way that's aesthetically pleasing.

You can easily just throw a single bed, a microwave, and a toilet into the room and that'll be enough for the game to recognise it as a functioning home. If you were a landlord in London you could even charge a desperate young professional £6,000 a month to live in it. But where's the fun in that? My obsession with the Tiny Living expansion peaked when I got really into making these miniscule houses look nice. I don't think I've even moved a single Sim into any of them—I just make them for the joy of making them. There's something incredibly relaxing about furnishing these confined spaces, using lights, colours, and careful placement of furniture to make them feel cosy, livable, and not cluttered or claustrophobic.

Maxis bundled some neat new space-saving furniture with Tiny Living, including a Murphy bed that folds up into a wall, and a combination bookshelf/stereo/TV. They're a welcome addition for the space starved, but I would have liked to see more of them. Even so, there's enough furniture elsewhere in the game to get creative and maximise the potential of these glorified shoeboxes. The expansion's combination of chill interior decoration and spatial puzzle-solving is incredibly fun and rewarding, and honestly, I'd play a whole game that was just this. I don't really care about playing The Sims 4 'normally'—I just want to build lots of small, tidy, compact houses, then sit back, look at them, and go "Aaaah."

For most players, a Sims game is a chance to build a dream house. Freed from pesky real-world limitations like time, money, and space, they're able to construct any kind of colossal, lavish, multi-room mansion they desire. Personally, I don't see the appeal. Maybe it's just because I've lived in small apartments my whole life, including when I was growing up, but I much prefer working within limitations. The genius of Tiny Living is that it makes a game out of this compulsion, encouraging you to be as economical as possible—and rewarding you for it. It's the most I've ever enjoyed The Sims 4, and the sole reason I still have the game installed on my PC. I might even let one of my Sims move into one someday.

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