Apparently it’s Halloween in summer because The Sims 4 just released its latest DLC, the Paranormal stuff pack, which some fans are calling the Luigi’s Mansion pack. It brings more supernatural elements to the game in the form of haunted houses and a medium skill that allows you to talk to the dead and perform séances.
The Paranormal stuff pack brings a lot of, well, stuff. There are build items, which you can use in your house, and create a sim items, which are used to dress your sims. There are a bunch of furniture items, which will likely make builders happy. I was slightly underwhelmed by the designs. While I was thrilled so many unique items went into this pack, including some gems I’ll likely use time and time again, they largely felt similar to items that are already in the game.
In a livestream last week, the Sims developers said they went for an eclectic, New Orleans-inspired style for this pack. They wanted to combine bohemian elements with more contemporary looks, an intentional choice they said was meant to mimic a less curated household, where some pieces might be purchased recently and others picked up from a thrift store. I admire the vision, and it’s easy to see it in the final result, but there are already tons of items in the game that can fit this image. A regular complaint in the Sims community is that there aren’t enough neutral furniture options. While I don’t mind the psychedelic vibe of the Paranormal pack’s canary yellow, teal, and magenta decor, I would have liked more toned down options as well.
That said, there are some beautiful pieces, like the mini cowplant terrarium. Sims fans will be familiar with the human-sized sentient plants that need to be fed regularly lest they take a bite out of your sim instead. This adorable option comes in a lovely glass case, no menacing appetite included. There are also haunted paintings that change images, plants, curtains, and decorative objects to place on shelves or tables.
The new create-a-sim options also fit the bohemian-inspired theme of the pack. There are some great tops, dresses, and curated outfits. The masculine outfits have a 70s chic that I have not seen The Sims explore much before, and I am unexpectedly open to the open chest. As usual, any sims can wear a clothing item, regardless of whether it’s labelled masculine, feminine, or both.
Despite the literal hours I spent in build mode messing around with items and building houses only to bulldoze over it all, I opted to play in the haunted house the Sims team included in the pack, which was created by EA Game Changer Doctor Ashley. EA Game Changers are streamers in the Sims community who work with EA, either to review the game or consult on important elements like skin tone fixes. They’ve also been doing lots of in-game builds as of late, perhaps because the dev builds kept getting roasted online. Doctor Ashley also competed on Sims Spark’d, the Sims reality show that premiered last summer.
The build feels homey and lived in while giving off a vibe of an older home that could very well be haunted, and the developers said in the livestream that Doctor Ashley had a bit more freedom than EA builds usually get. Just don’t expect to move in once you start a new save with your measly 20,000 simoleons: The lot costs nearly 100,000 simoleons to place. Naturally, I took a job at the bottom of the corporate food chain, struggled to get my first few promotions, and simoleon pinched until I had enough. (Just kidding, I used cheats.)
With my sims moved in, I waited for things to get weird. The weirdness really only happens at night, and it starts slowly. Guidry, a friendly ghost guide, will eventually appear to hold your hand through the gameplay and explain all you need to know. In the meantime, I had my sims perform seances and raise their medium skill. After a few ceremonies, they could summon Bonehilda, a skeletal maid who can help out if the haunted house becomes too much or if you don’t feel like cleaning. This is really useful, as the hauntings can keep your sims up.
I expected spooky sounds and lights flickering. That all happened, but I wasn’t prepared for how weird the rest of the haunting would get. Guidry and Bonehilda are always feeling flirty. They also kept going into my sim’s room to practice their acting lines in the mirror. What production a ghost and a skeleton could be auditioning for I don’t know — I’m guessing the dad and Yorick in Hamlet? I also witnessed both inexplicably pull out guitars and start playing. This is a ghost and a skeleton in a maid’s uniform we’re talking about. Where is the guitar coming from?
Then I got a notification saying “she’s here.” “Who’s here? Who is she?” I asked my computer. It was Temperance, an angry ghost. I quickly asked Guidry, knower of all things paranormal. He explained that he and Temperance go way back and that it was “complicated.” So here my sims were, getting yelled at by a ghost, in the middle of what I know suspect is an inter-paranormal-species love triangle. EA has not confirmed this is why it’s complicated, but this is my head canon.
You can play without any other packs, but having more can add to the experience. For instance, the Parenthood game pack allows sims to develop their emotional control and talk out their feelings. Being prompted to ask Temperance about her angry mood only for her to become very angry was a delightful moment.
The Paranormal pack’s medium skill isn’t as fleshed out as something like the sorcery skills in the Realm of Magic pack. (This makes sense, as game packs are meant to add more gameplay and cost more.). The medium skill only goes up to level five, where most skills go up to 10. It only took a couple sim days to reach level five and max out the skill.. That isn’t a problem, except for when I still felt like an inadequate medium.
You can become a freelance paranormal investigator for the Federal Bureau of Spooky Investigations. There are three levels of difficulty for gigs, which require you to exorcise an NPC’s home by performing ceremonies, asking specters to leave, and removing creepy objects. Even at the max medium skill level, I struggled on the most difficult paranormal investigator jobs to clear the house within the time limit. If my skill is as high as possible, I wouldn’t expect my sims to run around terrified about something they’re supposedly an expert in handling. You can make these into rabbit hole jobs, meaning your sims disappear while they handle their business, or you can join them and make it an interactive experience. They also go from 9:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., so my sims were basically nocturnal by this point.
Even if I felt more uncomfortable than scared, a new freelance career option, a sizable collection of items, and the addition of a haunted house lot and new skill make the pack a fun time for any Sims fan who likes to embrace the supernatural.