Some games make you feel like a powerful warrior. Some make you feel like an authoritative commander. And some games make you feel like a brilliant champion of everything mechanically, economically and strategically. Sounds good? Here are the best.
Specifically, we are talking about "management" games that deal with careful planning and application of resources rather than direct match (real-time strategy games like Command and Conquer ) or straight construction ( Minecraft ] and one million imitators). In these games, you must make constant decisions about how to apply time, money, space and dozens of other factors to best achieve your goals. SimCity is the classic example, but the game has been surpassed by more complex (and less exploitative) items in the urban genre.
If you prefer games where you solve issues that are more complicated than the usual "put ball in bad guy" or "slide around to move forward", you will love the deep complexity and wide freedom of choice below. Most are for PC, where friendly environment and keyboard controls contribute to more complex games, but we have also included some console choices.
Stardew Valley (PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, iOS, Android)
If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, the creators of Stardew Valley must love Harvest Moon to an almost unpleasant extent. The Indie PC game started more or less a complete copy of the original farm simulator from the back of the SNES days, but has been constantly expanded to add new features and improvements.
Your simple life as a farmer is mostly about gathering resources to expand your crops, but you can also engage in a little candy dating simply and expand your animal empire. This game has come out for every major platform, including mobile, and new extensions supported multiplayer and user mode.
Frostpunk is one of the most original real-time strategy games to come out every year, mainly because the enemy is not faceless armies, but a cold and dark landscape filled with people which is not always the best. The gloomy attitude is that you handle a number of cities in an alternative story in England, where coal reserves and massive heat exchangers are the only things that keep your Victorian citizens alive in an unexpected ice age.
You have to manage resources but also deal with real civic issues, like keeping people hoping for an apparently endless ecological disaster and deciding if you can accept refugees in your already crowded cities. The game is divided into several scenarios that play like a satisfying story chapter. Just do not play this game and hope for a happy ending.
Offworld Trading Company (PC)
You may have heard the term "industry captain?" It was never more applicable than in Offworld Trading Company . As an owner of a huge manufacturing company on Mars, you are tasked to both drive the company successfully and surpass your industrial rivals. There are more than a dozen resources to handle and refine when you build products and expand your business, but the real genius of the game uses unconventional tactics to undermine your competition.
You can easily beat them by paying careful attention to supply and demand, underestimate them on price to take a cautious loss when they go bankrupt, or start a nuclear or two to wipe their crops. You can even fool a worker's insurgency in his joints. But be careful: your opponents can have the same tactics for them. Create a martint manufacturing monopoly to win or lose confidence for your shareholders to start.
FTL: Faster than Light (PC, IOS)
A cool hit on the computer and later iPads, FTL tells the story of a spacecraft determination driving for their lives from a wave of angry rebels. The game uses a roguelike setup: every hour long replay only has a handful of encounter with enemy ships, after which you reach the ground or get your ass blown into a vacuum in space. The management element comes from ordering your crew to keep your ship running during battle and upgrading both ships and crew in each port of call.
You are always on a desperate budget, so you have to make careful decisions about what you will need. Oh, and you will inevitably stir it up several times and die. But expand your access to ship design and tools open all possible interesting solutions. Shoot the enemy weapon to turn them off, temporarily take down their engines to hit a hurried retreat, or let them board your ship and then open all airlocks while your crew sips Mai Tais on the sealed bridge? Decision, decision.
Prison Architect (PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, IOS, Android)
If you have the imagination of being a ruthless administrator who is responsible for hundreds of criminals trying to get through an alarming system … yes, you're kind. But you probably also come as Prison Architect.
As the title suggests, you may design the layout and plan of your (ahem) detention center, but once you are done, you will also run and handle it. You will need to hire staff and keep an eye on go-on to choke riots and prevent outbreaks, even when expanding to add more capacity. You decide everything from where each detainee goes to the specific pixel stains for the restrooms. The main game has a cruel but often funny story, while the sandbox and multiplayer modes buy out the replay.
Two Point Hospital (PC)
Both a management simulator and a bitterly fun comment on the United States ideal healthcare system, Two Point Hospital urges players to keep both patients and money flowing. The setting resembles Prison Architect above, but you would prefer your patients to leave eventually, preferably without being understood in a body bag.
Players can build, improve and expand their hospitals, manage staff, and earn money to improve facilities so they can access better amenities and more types of advanced care. It is a spiritual sequel to Theme hospitals from the 90s, including some of the original development laws.
Tropico 5 (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
A new version, this still adds new features and extensions.
Tears of Fears say that "everyone wants to control the world." And in the series Tropico you can do it – as long as you define the "world" As a small banana republic and convince your loving / happy / content / disappointed / rebellious subjects that are true as well. Tropico 5 expands for over a decade of sequelers with a new Age of Empires -style time mechanism from colonial independence to the information age, new options for diplomacy and trade and a multiplayer mode that allows you to compete with your friends.
And of course you can send out your guards to kill anyone daring to run against you in the next election. A dynamic series of conflicting interest groups keeps you on your toes – after all, you can not shoot everyone. You must keep your population at least somewhat happy if you hope to do it for the president for life for more than a few years.
Parkasaurus takes the idealized prehistoric zoo Jurassic Park subtracts Ian Malcolm's chaos theory and adds good googly eyes a la Dinosaur Train. You will build a zoo full of exotic prehistoric habitats, fill them with lost dinas from a time portal, then load people to see them and get most of your money from concession sales.
You must keep both the people and the dinosaurs happy, and as this is a game about a dinosaur zoo, you must obviously deal with temporary breakout. Keep the high number of visitors to victims! Parkasaurus is available for early access to Steam, so do not be surprised if there are any major upgrades before a full release.
Anno 2070 (PC)
Ubisofts Anno series began as a city council with a line of historical fiction, but this post moved the attitude to the future. In Anno 2070 people have managed to melt the polar bearings, so everyone has driven into a smaller and smaller amount of land fighting over scary resources. You control the technology, the environment or the business campaign, like all jockey for controlling the world government in (mostly) non-violent political disputes.
Your management of your mobile base and its passengers will drive world events and determine what new buildings and tools you have access to. The graphics are beautiful for a management game – you need a cool computer to play and thoughtful decisions will be rewarded in multiplayer mode. The sequel Anno 2205 expands this system to space travel.
Cities Skylines (PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch)
2013 version of SimCity was a pretty big drop for fans with a graphic update but a more restrictive setting focused on online games rather than careful building. Paradox was happy to fill the void with Cities: Skylines, based on the formula with even more complex tools and incredibly detailed management. It's really a next genre on the genre.
Players need juggle power grid, wastewater, traffic and all sorts of other infrastructure while their city expands from a podcity city to an international metropolis. Building tools have in particular been highly praised, enabling players to be disciplined civil engineers or nonsensical executives who want their city network to look like a Jackson Pollock painting. You can even add player-built modes to the PC version. Despite these advanced tools, Skylines has been successfully transferred to all three major consoles.