September 24, 2023


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‘The Sims 4’ paranormal pack allowed me to recreate ‘Phasmophobia’

Immediately, I set to work: How could I make “The Sims 4” feel as much like “Phasmophobia” as possible? Well, the best way to do that was to re-create “Phasmophobia” characters as sims and then build them a house that resembled Tanglewood Street, a map from the multiplayer ghost game.

Titled “Paranormal Stuff Pack,” the new DLC for “The Sims 4” is out January 26. It introduces séances, new furniture, a paranormal investigator career path and chaotic ghostly happenings within haunted residential homes. This is exciting, because séances were never possible in any previous “Sims” games, and while ghosts could come visit residential lots, they couldn’t do much tangible haunting.

A couple new characters are thrown into the mix, too, including the friendly ghost Gildry who helps onboard players on a haunted lot, as well as Temperance, an angry spirit who appears if you’re not careful. You can also summon Bonehilda, a fan-favorite skeletal maid from previous “Sims” games, to keep the house in order. All of them can befriended or even wooed, in typical “Sims” fashion.

Where the “Paranormal Pack” shines, however, is how the DLC combines spooks with tumultuous emotions: different paranormal entities will affect your sims in different ways, making them scared, sad or even spurring a fit of rage after a ghostly interaction.

Stuff Packs are usually smaller DLC, too, mostly adding new items to the catalog. The “Paranormal Stuff Pack” takes it further, with a ton to offer in terms of gameplay and sheer content, making it my favorite “Sims 4” Stuff Pack yet. With its supernatural terrors and the creative freedom “The Sims” offers, I finally had a reason — and the means — to make “Phasmophobia” a reality within “The Sims 4.”

To start, I re-created five of the eight “Phasmophobia” avatars as sims, pictured below. I took some creative liberties, because I couldn’t match everything exactly right due to clothing color limitations. But generally, I think it worked out pretty well.

While making them I noticed small additions to create-a-sim with the “Paranormal Stuff Pack,” including two new styled (pre-made) looks and a handful of new clothing items, with a bohemian aesthetic that screams “hippies attuned to the spiritual realm.” New furniture in “build mode” has a similar feel, with kitschy couches, wardrobes, flowery wallpaper and oddities like a crystal ball — all stuff you might find in a fortune teller or medium’s home. I had a ton of fun with this eclectic and distinct theme, especially when building séance rooms, though not all of it fit my Tanglewood project.

Tanglewood is a generic suburban home, so interior design was a breeze. The difficulty instead came from painstakingly recreating the exact positions of hallways and rooms. Tanglewood may be a one-story home, but it has a surprisingly large number of rooms to fit into a small space. Thanks to a floor plan on a Fandom wiki and the many screenshots I took of the actual Tanglewood Street house in “Phasmophobia,” I pulled it off.

Next, I made the lot haunted by selecting “Haunted House Residential” under lot type settings. Once I moved in my ghost-hunter sims, things got spooky (and ridiculous) fast. My ultimate goal was to have my sims not just communicate with the dead, but become paranormal investigators. However, unlocking that career path means surviving several nights inside a haunted home, so that you can eventually be rewarded a paranormal license (either by maxing out your Medium skill, or by buying it through the Rewards Store when you have enough satisfaction points after completing in-game tasks).

Things started off relatively quiet on Tanglewood Street. The first night, my sims met friendly green specters, which are different from the normal ghost sims that were included in the base game. Specters look like floating blobs and roam around. You can offer them a piece of your soul for a reward (be warned: selling your soul — unsurprisingly — comes with consequences), among other interactions. The rewards are unpredictable, and that’s the fun of it: Sometimes they leave behind a jar of forbidden candy that can energize your sims, or a goblet that you sip from to learn a random skill.

With each séance, things got spookier. The ghosts became angrier, soon transforming from green to red blobs that spewed fire from their mouths; they can set fire to homes and sims, making hauntings potentially lethal. My sims quickly became total wrecks, often exhausted from lack of sleep due to strange sounds and flickering lights, reminiscent of the terrors in “Phasmophobia.” They weren’t eating properly or showering, because all they could think about was fear. (Literally — there are new “scared” and “terrified” emotions). While scared, sims hide under covers, take “a panicked poop” in the bathroom and scream incoherently to one another. I couldn’t help but laugh at the chaos.

Managing them all made for a difficult handful of nights, especially on heroic mode, which ups the level of paranormal activity to dangerous levels. Of course, there are ways to ward off bad spirits, i.e. destroying cursed dolls that appear or lighting special candles to help sims stay calm. But, it’s so much more fun to unleash as much turmoil as possible.

Despite the chaos, my sims survived. By the fourth night, one of them was awarded a paranormal license for maxing out their Medium skill after several séances.

Now, I was entering “Phasmophobia” territory. It was time for my first job as a paranormal investigator. I arrived at a haunted lot where I had to banish ghostly entities. I could convince specters to leave by speaking with them (this didn’t always work), offering a handmade craft or selling my soul. This wasn’t too difficult, though there are tougher missions to tackle in bigger homes with more specters when you’re ready.

The paranormal investigator career path gets repetitive, though, but thankfully, it’s not the big draw of this Stuff Pack. Instead, most of the entertainment comes right inside your sims’ haunted homes. Merging two of my favorite games together is what made my experience so memorable, even if my sims aren’t nearly as brave as the real ghost hunters of “Phasmophobia.”