As I enter the bathroom, I find that I've turned The Sims 4 into a Hell simulator. The demons I call my offspring have beaten me to the porcelain throne. Two of them are fighting over the toilet bowl, the youngest one howls from somewhere behind the bathtub, and another is splashing in a puddle of his own filth and babbling in tongues (did he just say mama?).
I pee myself. The children have peed themselves too. Pee is everywhere, everyone is crying, and off in the distance, I hear an ominous knock at the door. My fifth donor has arrived, and with my sapped energy, hunger, and fun stats, I go to the door to greet him and instantly pass out on the floor in a snoring, stinking heap. This isn't something out of an Ari Aster horror movie; it's a day in the life of a Matriarch now that infants have taken over The Sims 4, and the 100 baby challenge will never be the same again.
First there was one
Before we get started, you should know that I did not dream up this torment myself. The 100 baby challenge is a longstanding Simmer tradition, an optional rules-based approach to the beloved life simulator that first reared its head in 2004's The Sims 2, then dubbed The Cheesecake Challenge. Despite a few minor adjustments to accommodate each game's nuances, the base rules have always stayed the same: have 100 babies in as few generations as possible. With the recent introduction of the new infant life state in The Sims 4: Growing Together, I couldn't help but wonder: how might an extra stage in a Sim's life affect the 100 baby challenge? Is it even possible anymore, given the extra long time we will have to wait for a baby to become a teenager, or will I find an alarming way to kill off a Sim with pure exhaustion?
Like all challenges, this one requires me to play in a brand new save file. I start off by creating my Matriarch, Katrina Redford, and spend far too long making her beautiful. If I'm going to have a houseful of babies, they had better be cute ones.
According to the rules, she must live alone in a home costing no more than the 20,000 Simoleons starting funds, so I move her into a quaint Sulani cottage called Tangled Flat. It has two bedrooms, which will do for now, although my lofty ambitions for Katrina involve a long, long list of future generations. Oh, and she's also a mermaid. I am already regretting this decision, and you'll soon see why.
Be my baby
Once I set Katrina up with a basic laptop to chase her dreams of becoming a best-selling author, a rickety easel to sell her painted wares from, and possibly the saddest little nursery ever, it's time to get down to business. Off she trots to the nearby turquoise shores of Sulani Beach, where I come across a spiky-haired surfer dude called Makoa Kealoha.
In the 100 baby challenge, your Matriarch is not allowed to marry, live with, or accept any childcare help from another person. It goes without saying that Sims 4 relationship cheats aren't allowed. Thankfully, a new mechanic in Growing Together is the option to Have A Science Baby with any friend Sim of your choosing. It costs a steep 1,200 Simoleons – especially for a Sim who isn't allowed to get an actual job – but hey. Katrina might be an independent woman and aspiring single mother, but Makoa is married and she's not a homewrecker.
I take precisely three selfies with Makoa to turn us into instant buddies, invite him back to my house, tap in a few buttons on the mobile phone, and hey presto: baby number one is here. I name her Alissa, because that's what the randomizer comes up with and also I quite like it.
As Katrina lovingly places her first child into their cot, I head back to the phone to have another Science Baby, but this time by myself. Yes, this is another snazzy new thing you can do in Growing Together, so I could technically just make 100 babies all by myself. But where is the fun in that? Where is the chaos? Where is the drama?
The drama, it turns out, is just around the corner. Baby boy Cade Redford arrives, and that is the last I know of peace forevermore.
I've now paid 2,400 Simoleons for my bundles of joy, and the family coffers are looking dismal. But try as I might to sit Katrina down to write some Short Stories or paint an inspired Masterpiece, the babies just will not stop crying. Between constantly feeding, bathing, and changing diapers, she manages to get a couple of books written while the little tots slumber on. These will provide royalties of about 54 Simoleons a week, and as a writer myself, I understand her frustration
When Alissa ages up to infancy, things get increasingly difficult. Infants require the constant care of newborns with the added need to give them Tummy Time, develop milestones, and eventually wrangle them into a high chair to start trying new foods. This isn't easy even with a partner by your side, and it gets tougher when Alissa develops the acquired trait of loving to be held. Try putting a kid like that in your Sims 4 baby carrier; I assure you they won't like it.
Since I had Cade as soon as I could, it's not long before I have two potato infants on my hands, demanding constant feeding, gurgling amid piles of dirty nappies. Katrina is unfortunately all too empathetic to that last bit, since as a mermaid her hydration and bladder needs rapidly dwindle. She pees herself about twice a day and insists on long soaks in the tub.
I'm not sure if it's because the game saw I was struggling with maintaining Katrina's needs, but out of nowhere I get a phone call from Alissa's dad, Makoa. He wants to come and stay over for a few days, and as much as I am craving seeing her energy meter outside the red, I decline. This is a torture chamber of my own making, and I'm going to see just how deep it goes.
Third time's the Darryl Charm
By the time Alissa is nearing toddlerhood, I'm getting desperate. It's nearly impossible to find a decent donor these days, especially when you're constantly leaving puddles of urine in your wake and falling asleep on the ground. In a desperate attempt to wrest control from the jaws of defeat, I take Katrina on a trip to Moonwood Mills to hang out with some fellow uncouth beasts.
Before you stamp this challenge attempt with a big fat F for fail, I'll have you know that I am allowed to leave the house without my children as long as I don't go on vacation. Grimtooth Bar and Bunker is a welcome haven of werewolves, and they don't mind my snoozing on a bench or rabid snarfing of all the chips in sight. I strike up a conversation with spellcaster Darryl Charm, and decide that he's my next donor.
Once again, we snap a few pictures and head back to Sulani to order ourselves another Science Baby. I return home with baby Hana, pop her in her crib, and breathe a sigh of relief as Alissa ages up to a toddler. At least now she can play with toys on her own.
Before long, the older two have aged up to become fine children, despite Cade's deep love of smashing the dollhouse to pieces. Hana is nearing toddlerhood herself, and I'm already on the lookout for the father of Baby 4.
I am still unable to keep Katrina from being constantly exhausted, so even when I lure yet another Sulani local back to my house of horrors, she keeps peeing herself and dramatically insisting she eat something other than cereal. My two eldest children natter at Alika Kahananui as he stares at them, bemused. Before I pass out again, I try to order us another Science Baby – and find that I am actually too poor to afford one.
It's back to the drawing board with Katrina, as she struggles to paint something halfway decent enough to support another screaming infant. Alika has lost interest and shown himself out. Night descends, and somewhere outside, a werewolf is upending my trash can and scratching at the front door. Hana needs feeding again, and I need a bath. I think it's safe to say that for now, the 100 baby challenge is dead in the water thanks to these meddling infants.
If you're feeling as stressed about this as I am, try out some other games like The Sims to relax.