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What makes an Immersive Sim, and why are they staging a comeback?

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New Game Maker’s Toolkit episode explores games like Deus Ex and System Shock

Mark Brown, host of the YouTube series Game Maker’s Toolkit, noticed a recent return of Immersive Sims like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Dishonored 2 — first-person games that give players a heightened amount of control in how they approach the game’s missions and obstacles. In the new episode of Game Maker’s Toolkit, he explores this trend and examines the mechanics that set these games apart.

Brown goes into the history of the genre, beginning with the 1992 fantasy game Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss. The title paved the way for games like System Shock and the original Deus Ex, both of which are receiving new entries soon.

Through the course of the video, Brown isolates a few key aspects of what makes a game an Immersive Sim, including player agency, consistent systems and rules, emergent gameplay, and game reaction to player choice.

For an in-depth look on this genre’s return, take a look at the episode above.