By this point, Animal Crossing has pretty much set the standard when it comes to social sims centered on anthropomorphic animals. Throughout the series’ many installments and spin-offs, we players have had to take on a variety of roles ranging from Interior Decorator in Happy Home Designer to Town Mayor in New Leaf. With the upcoming release of New Horizons for Nintendo Switch, we’re anticipating adding Island Caretaker to that list as Tom Nook yet again loops us into paying him back an excessive amount of Bells.
In the meantime, we’ll have to find other games to satisfy the desire to build things, collect random items, and befriend animals. Here, we’ll be highlighting the best games like Animal Crossing to keep you busy until New Horizons hits store shelves. Make sure to check back as we continue to update this list with new games. And while you’re here, consider reading through our other curated lists:
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Developer: HopFrog – Platform: PS4 | Switch | PC
Forager is a survival game set in a colorful 2D open-world. In it, you control 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. In our review, we praised Forager for its easy-to-grasp controls and addictive gameplay loop that encourages constant exploration and player progression.
Developer: ConcernedApe – Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC | Android | iOS
Inspired by the beloved Harvest Moon games, Stardew Valley is a farming sim game that offers players a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Similar to Animal Crossing, most in-game days are spent tending to crops, gathering up resources, and completing tasks for NPCs. The citizens of Stardew have distinct personalities and special quirks that make for interesting exchanges depending on how well you get to know them.
Over the in-game years, you’ll get to know the community very well and become entrenched in the lives of other characters without even noticing. The game offers a lot of flexibility in terms of how you choose to spend your days, allowing you to focus on doing the activities you enjoy most. Lastly, there are a plethora of Stardew Valley mods on PC that add new features and content to the base game.
My Time At Portia
Developer: Pathea Games – Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC
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, you’re cast as an original character that’s new to town and is looking for an exciting new adventure. A large chunk of the game is spent upgrading and managing your farm, crafting new tools in workshops, and exploring caves containing valuable resources and ancient relics.
Of course, you’ll also be interacting and getting to know the locals, each with their own unique backstory that gets revealed as you progress through the game, which should take you quite some time. My Time at Portia’s main story can take upwards of 60 hours to complete and even longer if you plan on socializing with NPCs as often as we did. No need to worry though, as the game encourages you to take things at your own pace.
Dragon Quest Builders 2
Developer: Square Enix – Platform: PS4 | Switch | PC
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: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Developer: Prideful Sloth – Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC
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.
Developer: Plukit – Platform: PC
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.
Developer: Bitten Toast Games – Platform: Switch | PC
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.
Developer: Stolen Couch Games – Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | PC | Android | iOS
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.
Little Dragon Café
Developer: Aksys – Platform: PS4 | Switch | PC
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.
Developer: Glumberland – Platform: Xbox One | PC
Ooblets is an upcoming life sim inspired by Animal Crossing that also takes a few cues from games like Stardew Valley and Pokémon. In it, you play as an original character living in a world shared by humans and adorable creatures called ooblets. Ooblets come in all shapes and sizes and can be interacted with in a variety of ways beyond just pinching their cheeks every time they do something cute.
You can find and catch ooblets out in the wild, or grow your own ooblets on your farm along with a variety of crops. Together, you and your ooblets will go on new adventures where you’ll battle trainers, have dance parties, and explore numerous islands. The game was previously set to be published under the Double Fine Presents label but is now being self-published by developer duo Glumberland with help from Popagenda. A look at the developer’s blog suggests a 2020 release is in the works.
Mineko’s Night Market
Developer: Meowza Games – Platform: Switch | PC
Mineko’s Night Market is an adorable social sim/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.
Developer: Robert Tatnell – Platform: PC
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 PC audience may appeal to anyone who doesn’t yet own a Switch.