I have to admit that I have a really weird setup for my work since use an iMac Pro to develop my games, an M1 Macbook Pro to manage this blog and an iPad Air 4 that sits alongside these two for media consumption, todo lists, email and fun. I keep the iPad Air 4 mostly in portrait mode so I’m always on the lookout for for idle games that work in portrait mode. And I think I just discovered the perfect portrait idle game for the iPad.
What is Idle Life Sim?
Idle Life Sim draws some really big influences from Animal Crossing, a life sim game for the Gamecube, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch and, recently for smartphones. Everything screams Animal Crossing, from the cute outfits to the characters (minus cute animals) and environment design.
The game features a pretty neat and interesting modern day spinoff of going through the daily 9 to 5 grind. There’s a little bit of irony in playing a game where my character is an IT Programmer/Freelancer while I’m also freelancing as a programmer at the same time. The only way this could have been any more META is if my character in the game was also playing a game in the same vein.
Gameplay and features
The game starts out by creating your character, selecting from a (initially) limited range of hair styles, eye colors and looks. You are soon after introduced to your grandma – your benefactor that helps you get a small and cozy house in a new city and monitors your adventure, always willing to give a little bit of advice.
You select your profession and you begin your daily grind. In the game I started out as a developer working in IT. Slowly but steady I joined game jams, learned web development, bought some servers and rose through the ranks with my earnings slowly growing as I became more proficient at my virtual job.
Small side note here: If I could have any wish granted, at this point, I’d wish @GreenHeartGames would re-release GameDev Tycoon made in a similar style to Idle Life Sim! It would be a match made in heaven.
The game features various loops and intertwined mechanics. Your progression in your career isn’t just tied to the skills and abilities you improve. It’s also tied to your popularity, the way your home is decorated and your choice of bowtie (or not, but I still think bowties should play an integral part in this game).
Let’s dive into the different mechanics at play here.
Progression & Economy
Your progress through the game is measured in various ways.
- One way to track progress is via the acquisition of a new, bigger and better home.
- Home unlocks are tied to your characters level
- Each new home unlocks new décor items for your home which help you level up more
- Each new home offers more space to place your décor items.
- Character levels. Each character has a level which increases with new decorations purchased, new skills related to your job/specialty and popularity.
- Popularity depends on you attending industry events related to your job. Each event has a dress code and if you match the dress code, your popularity increases.
- In order to unlock new clothes, you need to level up.
- Clothes price is affected by your decorations.
- Earnings/hour. Your earnings increase as you improve your skills and climb up the ranks in your career.
All three progression methods outlined above feed into each other at every step. Here’s one way to visualize it, via a simple flowchart. This should help you get a better idea on the game’s streamlined complexity.
It might seem complex but everything is so polished and so streamlined that you won’t be able to tell. It’s a perfect example of Animal Crossing’s simplicity at play here.
Add to this the fact that you can manage multiple characters at the same time. That’s right, around level 8 or 9 you’ll get access to the “Meta Verse” which unlocks multiple character slots that can be played in parallel.
Why live a second live as a developer in the game when you can live a third, fourth or fifth life. It’s freelancers all the way down in this portrait idle game for the iPad.
The game probably has one of the best monetization systems I’ve ever seen in Free To Play games. It’s fair and well thought out.
If you don’t want to see a single advertisement in the game, you won’t see it. They are optional and presented to you in the form of opportunities from your grandma. She comes to visit you, sits on a bench in front of your house and shares a video with you. In exchange for watching it, she’ll reward you with cash.
The games has a hard currency that’s used in various parts of the game. For example, you can spend the diamonds (the hard currency of the game) in order to refresh the selection of decorations available in the furniture store. Or to purchase premium decorations from the store. However, I have yet to see a premium decoration in the store that wasn’t available for purchase in the soft currency section.
The premium currency can be obtain as rewards for your progress, obtained by watching a set of 6+ ads or purchased for real money.
Another good example of how fair and nice the monetization is can be seen in the furniture store itself. The furniture available refreshes every 4-5 minutes and, as I said, you can speed up the refresh by spending diamonds. However, as the timer goes down, so does the amount of diamonds you have to spend.
The game limits your default offline earnings to 3 hours maximum. However, you can spend real money to purchase a “Impersonator Robot” which will offer up to 12 hours of inactive income earnings.
The other offers available in the store are pretty fair with the ability to turn off the ads offers from your grandma and keep all the benefits of “watching her videos” or hiring Steve Gates to double your technology earnings.
There’s even a combo offer at what they claim to be 25% but it’s actually much better than that since it also gives 1200 gems.
I’m extremely impressed by the game’s monetization system and it’s one I’ll give as an example for many many years to come!
Graphics and Aesthetics
The game’s graphics are perfect for what the game sets out to be. It’s Animal Crossing with just enough personality to be its own style. The game looks gorgeous on my iPad Air with everything from the UI to the environment looking professional and well thought out.
Is Idle Life Sim a good portrait idle game for the iPad?
There are but a handful of games out there that I can wholeheartedly recommend and Idle Life Sim is one of them.
It’s aesthetics are gorgeous, the monetization is one of the fairest of them all and the gameplay is as fun as an idle game can be. It has a lot of mechanics that feed into each other and blend well together with a lot of the complexity not being visible at surface level.
This is how an idle game should be monetized!
Download Idle Life Sim
It also works on Apple Silicon Macs! Read our guide on how to install iOS games on your M1 Macbook and yes, the progress can be synced between your devices!
Where To Next?
We have more reviews of good free or premium mobile games, such as Metal Slug Attack or QB Planets! We also have other articles with tidbits and interesting facts, like this one – which answers the question “What is the Number 1 mobile eSports Game” sorted by the prize pool.
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