Best Games Like Animal Crossing

Throughout the Animal Crossing series’ twenty-year legacy, players have had to take up a number of roles ranging from Interior Decorator in Happy Home Designer to Town Mayor in New Leaf

Nintendo’s latest outing, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, adds Island Caretaker to that list, as players find themselves transported to a new tropical destination courtesy of Tom Nook’s Getaway Package.

Here, we’ll be highlighting the best games like Animal Crossing to check out once you’ve paid off all your loans and decorated your island to your heart’s content.

Make sure to check back as we continue to update this list with new games in the future.

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Forager is a 2D survival game set in a colorful open-world in which you play as a cute little lad who spends his days collecting just enough resources to craft a vast array of different tools, weapons, and workbenches.

The game rewards you for exploring your surroundings with experience points that get converted into skill points every time you level up. There are over 64 skills to master using a free-form upgrade system that lets you tailor your experience to fit your playstyle.

In addition to unlocking new activities like fishing, cooking, and farming, your character gains access to new gameplay features via upgrades, such as magical abilities and an in-game shop for trading.

Inspired by the beloved Harvest Moon games, the game is presented as a 2D farming sim with some light RPG mechanics and vibrant pixel art graphics. Similar to New Horizons, most days are spent tending to crops, gathering up resources, and completing tasks for NPCs.

In it, you create your own character and set out to bring your grandfather’s old farm back to life by gathering seeds, planting crops, and selling them for a profit. Eventually, the game opens up and lets you explore other areas such as ranching, wine-making, baking, etc. 

There’s a day/night cycle that encourages you to plan out activities ahead of time, such as exploring mines, talking to neighbors, or just hanging out at the local bar. The citizens of Stardew have distinct personalities that really make them come to life and encourage you to make friends, single-out your rivals, and even get married.

My Time at Portia is an RPG set in a collapsed world where the remaining humans have consolidated to rebuild civilization in a small rural town. Just like in Animal Crossing, the game casts you as a human who’s new in town and looking for an exciting new adventure.

Gameplay is broken up into managing and upgrading a farm, crafting new tools in workshops, and exploring caves containing valuable resources and ancient relics. Of course, you’ll also have a chance to get to know the other villagers and what makes them tick.

The main story can take upwards of 60 hours to complete and even longer if you plan on socializing with NPCs. No need to worry though, as the game encourages you to take things at your own pace.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 sets out to be more ambitious than the original game at every turn. In it, you reprise your role as the legendary builder tasked with restarting civilization in a world where nearly every person has lost the ability to build things.

As you learn new recipes and expand your village, you’ll attract more NPCs to your fledgling colony willing to lend you their expertise. Characters are well-written and have surprisingly detailed arcs that throughout the game’s 50+ hour campaign.

The sequel introduces a host of new features such as more natural-looking environments, new glide and dive abilities, dynamic water collection, and online multiplayer. In co-op, players can visit each other’s island and start building together, or simply check out their friend’s creations. 

Yonder is a relaxing open-world adventure game designed to be played at your own stride.  The game’s world is comprised of a variety of environments with defining features, including a diverse bunch of NPCs to befriend.

A lack of enemies in the overworld means you’re free to explore to your heart’s content as you complete quests for characters in exchange for new skills. The main quest sees you seeking out magical creatures called Sprites that have the power to rid the world of a nasty poison called Murk that’s plaguing the land.

In many ways, it’s reminiscent of Animal Crossing, with your character able to get in an NPC’s good graces by feeding them treats (similar to giving neighbors gifts in New Leaf). Additionally, there are a lot of optional trades to learn, ranging from head chef to farmer to carpenter and more.

Staxel is a voxel-based sandbox game influenced by titles like Minecraft as well as Animal Crossing. In it, you take on the role of an aspiring farmer who’s just moved to a new village in need of sprucing up.

As you set out to establish a thriving farm, the rest of the villagers will give you advice and useful tips in exchange for favors. Tasks range from standard fetch quests requiring you to catch/hunt a specific animal to cooking an exciting new dish to building a new structure that enhances the village.

Ultimately, your hard work will pay off, and you’ll find yourself rewarded with a beautiful-looking farm and well-decorated home. Lastly, the game features online co-op, allowing you to bring some of your existing friends along during your adventures.

Garden Paws has to be one of the cutest sandbox games we’ve ever seen. It’s essentially a cross between a management sim and an exploration-based adventure game that puts you into the shoes, or rather paws, of a variety of small and cuddly woodland creatures.

There is an exhaustive amount of options to play as including rabbit, chipmunk, dog, cat, and even a munchkin-sized dragon. The gameplay is split between managing a farm, upgrading your island’s resources, and exploring caves, beaches, and forests for treasure.

You can also open up a shop to sell wares and take on a myriad of hobbies like fishing, cooking, and raising animals. The more you upgrade your island’s amenities, the more residents you’ll attract.

Here we have arguably the most Animal Crossing inspired game to ever exist, Castaway Paradise. This is a game that’s not ashamed to show its admiration for the series, being as bold as to reference the Nintendo franchise by name in its marketing.

We can’t say we really blame them either, considering both games feature almost identical gameplay, visuals being the only real differentiator. In it, you play as an original character that gets trapped in a storm before washing ashore on a tropical island.

Thankfully, the locals decide to help you out by setting up a tent and offering their friendship in exchange for the occasional favor or two. The game features a vibrant island to explore with more areas unlocked as you progress and a plethora of items to collect and sell.

Next up, we have a life sim from the creator of Harvest Moon, Yasuhiro Wada. Little Dragon Café casts you as one of two twins, Rin and Ren, as you set out to uncover the truth behind your mother’s mysterious illness.

At the same time, you’re tasked with caring for a dragon egg expected to hatch any day now, along with managing a family-owned café. There’s a lot of variety when it comes to gameplay, with a majority of Little Dragon Café spent playing cooking mini-games, exploring the great outdoors, and chatting up NPCs.

Outside of the main story, you can unlock new recipes to add to the café’s menu and watch as your baby dragon grows to become a fire-breathing terror of joy you can fly with.  

Ooblets is a refreshing take on life sims that feels like a “greatest hits” mashup of the entire genre. You’ve got the dynamic social interactions of Animal Crossing, the farm management of Harvest Moon, and a sprinkling of Pokémon-inspired turn-based dance battles for a bit of RPG pizzazz.

The end result is a one of a kind life sim with cute visuals and a lot of variety. You assume control over a customizable character who lives in a world where humans and adorable creatures known as “ooblets” coexist.

Ooblets come in all shapes and sizes and, after some convincing, will join your party and follow you around everywhere you go. Additionally, you can combine traits from different ooblets to create new species that will sprout up in your garden.

Mineko’s Night Market is an adorable adventure game inspired by Animal Crossing that features vibrant environments and more cats than you’ve ever dreamed of. You play as a curious girl who’s still getting used to her new home on a charming Japanese-inspired island located near the base of a mountain.

With an emphasis on story and exploration, the game sees you trying to uncover the island’s many secrets, including a mythological Sun Cat named Abe, who’s rumored to actually exist.

When you’re not unraveling cat-god related mysteries, you’re tasked with running a shop, crafting goods, and taking care of even more cats. The game was initially slated for a 2019 release but has since been delayed until 2020.

Last up, we have another unabashed Animal Crossing clone called Hokko Life. Described as a “cozy life-sim,” the upcoming game sees your character transported to a new town called Hokko, where animals not only walk and talk but are also in desperate need of a favor.

Of course, we’re willing to chip in and do our part for the sake of friendship. Your essential Animal Crossing hobbies are all here: fishing, bug collecting, farming, interior decorating, you name it.

Yet, the game adds some refinements that AC fans have been craving for years, such as more customization options for furniture. Although the game is expected to drop the same year as New Horizons, the fact that it’s targeting the PC audience may appeal to anyone who doesn’t yet own a Switch. 

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Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.

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