One of the best things about video games is they let players experience high-risk, high-reward things that most of them wouldn’t do in real life, such as single-handily taking down a crew of villains, competing in a street race, or going on a perilous adventure. Another, slightly more monotonous thing that many people like to do in games is build their own house.
For players looking to show off their architectural prowess, doing it in a video game is intuitive and user-friendly. Whether someone’s building follows the science behind making a structurally sound home, or it’s a whimsical artistic masterpiece, a video game can bring out the player’s imagination to the building phase, then fruition. It won’t make a person an expert in architecture, but it will help them unleash their creative mind. The following house-building games place people in real-life situations where they have to build under budget constraints or with limited resources.
Updated April 1, 2023, by Kristy Ambrose: House building in a virtual setting is great because there’s no immense stress or fear of something going wrong, although some games do have features to make the process more exciting. Sometimes it’s possible to go over budget or cross into a neighbor’s lot, for example. Some games make the house the focus of the game and others feature house-building as one small part of a much larger simulation. With the construction industry in full swing for those that are actually in the process of building a home, these games have an even more important, practical use. Either way, players will still get that satisfying feeling of success once it’s complete.
18 The Forest (2018)
The Forest is a survival game that was developed by Endnight Games for the PC and PlayStation 4. The game doesn’t take long to get started as it immediately kicks off with players crash landing in a mysterious forest. Although The Forest is branded as survival horror, the game became a huge hit in early access because of how much fun it was to play with friends and how popular it was among YouTubers and streamers.
Building is a key gameplay mechanic in The Forest, though the house-building part of the game isn’t just for fun, as players need to build a shelter to protect themselves from the dangers of the forest. However, the game gives players plenty of freedom to make their own creations, and there are many incredible structures that players have made and posted online, which are a great source of inspiration.
17 Project Highrise (2016)
For architects that want more of a challenge when it comes to organizing the more practical aspects of building and maintaining a whole block of homes, Project Highrise is an ideal choice for a house-building game. It’s not the most stunning visually, but the monochrome color palette and floor plan are part of the overall point.
Despite the complexity of the subject matter and the simple graphics, this game gets a lot of positive reviews thanks to its streamlined system of teaching players how to manage and design several homes that work on one efficient system. There is even some DLC available that includes commercial buildings and major cities when players feel ready to expand.
16 Skyrim (2011)
One of the many reasons why Skyrim is still such a popular game, over ten years after it first hit stores, is due to how much there is to do in the game and how much choice players have in the paths they take. Whether players want a purely passive or ultra-aggressive playthrough, Skyrim provides hundreds of hours of content, including house-building.
One of the best things to do in a passive playthrough is building a house. Although numerous ready-made houses can be purchased in the land of Skyrim, nothing beats making a house from scratch. Building a house isn’t easy, as players need to gather all the necessary resources first, though this is an excellent time-sink and an ultimately satisfying experience.
15 Conan Exiles (2018)
As an open-world game set in the brutal and unforgiving universe of Conan: The Barbarian, Conan Exiles will force players to deal with a few unique challenges when building their base. Not only will savage beasts and other wandering threats assault the player, but other human gamers can do so as well since there is a robust online multiplayer function.
However, if one can survive long enough to get a foothold on some desired terrain, players can put together impressive structures from the individual wall and floor tiles that grant a great degree of flexibility. Thankfully, some anti-griefing procedures prevent players from destroying or building over another’s hard work.
14 Don’t Starve (2013)
While the house-building game aspects in Don’t Starve don’t include being able to build a literal house from individual components, there are still plenty of structures that can be built in-game to create something akin to a home. For example, players can surround certain areas with walls to keep out unwanted visitors and put down various kinds of flooring for benefits like increased movement speed and more.
There are even structures that can be built which will allow players to sleep indoors temporarily, such as the various huts which can grant shelter from the rain as well as provide recovery of one’s health and sanity. If players have access to mods, such as when playing on a PC and using Steam’s workshop, these housing options increase exponentially.
13 Home Design Story (2012)
Home Design Story is a program for Apple iOS. It looks more like a design program on the surface, but this is an interactive game that allows players to design every detail of their house, both exterior and interior, and invite friends and neighbors to visit. It’s also possible to role-play as an architect and become famous with a stellar design career.
Most of the energy and time that developers have put into this house-building game has gone into the graphics, and the details are impressive. Players who pay attention to detail will appreciate how much this game lets them tweak, change, or add when it comes to decor.
12 Lego Worlds (2017)
Much like utilizing Lego bricks in real life, this video game is all about creative freedom, and, in regards to that concept, appropriately lets players build awesome homes as well as a tremendous variety of other structures. Lego Worlds offers infinite building options thanks to the sheer quantity of different bricks in the game, which is something architectural enthusiasts should check out!
So far, players have been able to not only build their dream houses, but also recreate famous locations from their favorite movies, books, and even other video games. This is always a great sign when it comes to house-building games, as such pursuits act as the greatest kind of test for a title’s potential.
11 Minecraft (2011)
Players who own the PC version of Minecraft can use mods to enhance the house-building experience. They can build their dream houses and live in them if they chose to. Minecraft is a sandbox game that gives players various tools to build.
Find a location to build the house, level the terrain, create a Crafting Table, and build away. Players may want to make a bed before starting, as it acts as a respawn point in case baddies attack them. A house made out of blocks can look brilliant.
10 House Flipper (2018)
One can renovate the heck out of a home in House Flipper. The idea is to take dilapidated homes and remodel them into something that can be sold. Players get a variety of tools to turn around homes in this indie simulation game.
It’s also just plain fun wrecking stuff. This hidden gem is available on the Steam Store for a bargain. With DLC, people can find new locations to build houses and plant gardens.
9 Prison Architect (2015)
Played from the top-down perspective, Prison Architect gives users the tools to build a personalized penitentiary. Players will make areas like the infirmary, a cafeteria, and a workshop, as well as much more.
This game accomplishes its goal of doing what it sets out to do: create a simulation game with a prison theme. There is a level of excitement contained in this game, as well as horror elements; Prison Architect is unlike any house-building game out there.
8 Cities: Skylines (2015)
One can build entire cities, including suburban houses, in Cities: Skylines. This house-building game is open-ended, meaning there is virtually no end. Take control of the urban planning and road placement involved in the development of a city.
The houses in Cities: Skylines are easily created in the game’s sandbox mode, which offers more freedom. Without mods, however, players can’t customize homes. Players make the zoning, and houses improve if their occupants are looked after.
7 Rimworld (2018)
The construction and management simulation game for PC users, Rimworld is set on a distant planet where players need to build a colony to survive. Watch out for raiders since colonies will likely need double walls to withstand impending attacks.
Using mods adds layers of complexity to building houses; they let players get things like doormats and can allow them to create more beds in homes, adding more realism. The top-down perspective has its limitations, yet Rimworld has plenty of customization for fans of architecture.
6 Fallout 4 (2015)
Although Fallout 4 can be criticized for its bugs and predictable plot points, it has a fun house-building component. The story revolves around the only survivor of Vault 111, and it’s a tale of danger and betrayal.
One can build thousands of items in the most complex crafting system thus far; build a single house or an entire settlement. Fallout 4 provides players with the tools to build standout homes in the wasteland. From the rubble, survivors can build and develop until they are satisfied with the result.
5 Subnautica (2018)
Unknown Worlds Entertainment’s Subnautica takes the best elements of survival games and pushes them into the depths of an alien ocean world. Visit marine life as players partake in a perilous adventure.
In addition to creating underwater houses called seabases, one can craft things like submarines and equipment. People can explore Subnautica’s open world as they descend into an ocean filled with coral reefs, volcanoes, and networks of caves.
4 No Man’s Sky (2016)
When the open-world game No Man’s Sky was released, unfulfilled promises held it back from reaching its potential. Developer Hello Games has since done a turnaround with the game, integrating features that bring the game to life.
No Man’s Sky is a game that encourages exploration, but there is also a substantial house-building component. The game’s procedurally generated universe is the ideal setting for its building system. If someone has some architecture chops, they can build a polished home. The Beyond Update 2019 brought depth to No Man’s Sky’s base designs.
3 Stardew Valley (2016)
It’s not just about a farm and a house, it’s about building a whole life in the idyllic countryside. Stardew Valley is a popular farming and building simulator in which the player has inherited a plot of land, and they move from the city to learn the fine art of country life.
The game was inspired by similar titles like Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons, but what makes Stardew Valley even better is the house designs. Players can do a lot more in this game with personal home designs and house-building than in others. In addition to building a farm, home, and maybe even a family, there are mysterious areas to explore and many adventures to be had.
2 Terraria (2011)
This indie game has role-playing elements, but many will love it for its substantial building component. Not only can players build a house, but they can also build entire cities to house allies they meet along the way.
Terraria is a sandbox game in the sense that players get a great degree of creative potential. This is a title someone can invest over a thousand hours playing. It contains exploration and boss fights, so the game offers a lot more content than just building.
1 The Sims 4 (2014)
DLC The Sims installments bring more customization to an already great series. One can build modern and sleek homes that are the envy of the Sim neighborhood. Players can pour their imagination into quaint homes or construct a mansion for a family of Sims.
Players have the creative license to make stunning homes; paint the outside, or furnish the interior of a home. With so much to see and do, The Sims 4 could be the best building game for architecture geeks.
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