When you think of Harvest Moon, you probably picture yourself managing a cute little farm, getting to know your neighbors, and embracing the gentle pace that comes with living in a small town. Like many farming sims, Harvest Moon has always encouraged players to take things at their own pace and create their own vision of a perfect farm.
Although the series is technically still around today, due to a publisher legal battle, the original Harvest Moon had to be rebranded as Story of Seasons. While you’ll still find new games releasing under the Harvest Moon name, these are nothing but cheap and hollow imitations looking to cash in on the brand recognition.
Thankfully, there are plenty of other great farming sims with interesting characters and rewarding gameplay. Here, we’ll be highlighting the best games to play in 2020 that are either directly influenced by Harvest Moon or explore similar ideas. Make sure to check back for future updates and consider reading through our other curated lists for more gaming recommendations:
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Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town
Developer: Marvelous Inc. – Platform: PC | Switch
Like we mentioned at the top, the original Harvest Moon now goes by Story of Seasons as of 2014. The latest entry in the rebranded franchise is actually a 3D remake of a GBA Harvest Moon game called Friends of Mineral Town. Outside of updating the graphics, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town stays faithful to the original’s story and gameplay.
You play as a young city slicker who returns to the countryside village of Mineral Town to take care of their late grandfather’s farm. The game sees you caring for an assortment of fruits, vegetables, and livestock in addition to side activities like cooking and shopping. Players can buy gifts for neighbors and even romance one of several eligible bachelors and bachelorettes, eventually starting their own family.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Developer: Nintendo – Platform: Switch
Considering Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon have historically catered to the same audience, 2020’s New Horizons is a deeply satisfying alternative that’s sure to keep you entertained for hundreds of hours. While it strives to breathe new life into the series by introducing a new DIY crafting system, updated graphics, and a host of improvements, the core concept remains the same.
Days are spent tending to gardens, catching bugs and fish, and buying up furniture to decorate your cozy little home courtesy of Nook Inc. Additionally, new terraforming tools allow you to personalize your island getaway with custom paths, rivers, cliffs, forests, and more. Think of it as a virtual vacation away from your virtual farm in Harvest Moon.
Developer: Lazy Bear Games – Platform: PC | PS4 | XB1 | Switch | Android
If you can look past its morbid subject matter, Graveyard Keeper is an engaging management sim set during the medieval ages with clear Harvest Moon influences, namely its retro 16-bit visuals. Instead of maintaining a farm and getting married, the game sees you exploring an assortment of dark and supernatural activities such as burying bodies, crafting magical potions, and attending witch burnings.
If it wasn’t clear up until now, Graveyard Keeper has a sick sense of humor that’s reflected in just about every aspect of gameplay. At times, you may find yourself having to cut costs just to keep your cemetery business afloat. This can lead to tough moral decisions like whether to invest time and resources making quality potions or just use random ingredients from nearby caves and creeks, potentially poisoning your customers in the process.
Developer: Louqou – Platform: PC
Travellers Rest is another Harvest Moon inspired management sim set during the medieval ages, only instead of running some sort of twisted cemetery, you’re the owner of a small tavern with thirsty customers. The game tasks you with keeping patrons’ glasses topped with their beverage of choice while cooking food and upgrading the bar’s amenities.
Eventually, you do unlock a farm where you can plant and harvest crops. There are also plenty of opportunities for customization, from your character’s appearance to the bar’s layout; Travellers Rest goes a long way towards making you feel like you’re in control of the entire experience. As you get to know your bar’s regulars and hear local stories and gossip, you’ll begin to feel like part of the community and get invested in their lives.
Developer: Plukit – Platform: PC
At first glance, Staxel looks like any other cookie-cutter Minecraft clone; but give it a chance, and you’ll discover its actually quite unique in how it approaches blending RPG mechanics with farming sim gameplay. Combine this with a lack of combat and a plethora of low stakes quests, and you have a satisfying, modern alternative to classic Harvest Moon.
Like many other farming sims, Staxel sees you turning an empty plot of land into a thriving farm while building relationships with villagers by completing tasks. Eventually, your hard work will pay off, and you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful-looking farm and home. Additionally, the game supports online co-op, allowing you to take your friends along for new adventures.
The Sims 4
Developer: Maxis – Platform: PC | PS4 | XB1
You simply can’t talk about life sims like Harvest Moon without mentioning the granddaddy of them all, The Sims. The most recent entry in the now 30-year-old franchise is a culmination of every game that came before it. Where previous Sims games would offer glimpses of feeling fully immersed in a different world, The Sims 4 really delivers.
Whether you’re looking to build a criminal empire, explore the deep stretches of space as an astronaut, or become the most famous gardener in all of Willow Creek, The Sims 4 has just about every walk of life covered. Not to mention the game’s robust building tools that allow you to turn your dream home into a virtual reality. As the series has progressed, so too has its romance system, allowing for same-sex marriages and the ability to adopt children.
Developer: Bitten Toast Games – Platform: Switch | PC
Although life sims come in all shapes and sizes, none come even close to matching the level of cuteness in Garden Paws. Inspired by titles like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, the part management sim, part adventure game puts you in the shoes, or rather paws, of adorably small animals. You can play as a rabbit, a chipmunk, a dog, a cat, or even a munchkin-sized dragon.
Between managing a farm, gathering supplies, and exploring caves, beaches, and forests for treasure, you’ll find there’s always something to do in the world. The game also includes a robust shopkeeping component that can be useful for convincing other animals to come visit your island. While completing tasks can be quite extensive, life sims are all about taking the time to stop and smell the roses.
Farming Simulator 19
Developer: Giants Software – Platform: PC | PS4 | XB1 | Switch
If farming is your favorite part of Harvest Moon, then you may enjoy how in-depth Farming Simulator 19 gets with its crop cultivation. After all, in the real world, managing a farm entails a lot more daily tasks than simply planting a seed, sprinkling water on it, and waiting for something to grow. You have a daily checklist of tasks to get through, such as caring for livestock, organizing crops, and performing regular maintenance on your equipment.
The game inches its way towards realism, but thankfully never takes itself too seriously. We recommend diving headfirst into FS19’s Career Mode, which offers a substantial amount of different scenarios designed to teach you everything you need to know about the game. The best part is climbing onto one of those big tractors and cruising around your land like some hotshot farmer.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Developer: Prideful Sloth – Platform: PS4 | XB1 | Switch | PC
Yonder takes its Harvest Moon influences beyond the confines of a small rural town and into a vibrant open-world with distinct locales ripe for exploration. In it, you play as a hero on a quest to rid the world of a nasty poison called “Murk” that’s plaguing the land. Your only hope is to seek out creatures known as Sprites whose magical powers can aid in defeating the Murk once and for all.
Although Yonder is a lot more narrative-driven than HM, life sim fans will still find plenty of familiar systems to sink their teeth into. Your character can take up jobs to learn skills, build farmland throughout the world, make friends by completing favors, and even adopt animal companions. Like many of the other games on this list, Yonder benefits from its laid-back approach to gameplay and progression.
My Time at Portia
Developer: Pathea Games – Platform: PS4 | XB1 | Switch | PC
If you prefer life sims that prioritize variety over substance, then chances are you’ll like Pathea Games’ open-world RPG My Time At Portia. In it, you play as the new resident of Portia, a historic coastal village with the potential to become a thriving city. The game presents players with a plethora of daily activities to keep themselves busy, such as fishing, farming, mining, crafting, and cooking.
Each task is wonderfully woven into an open-ended narrative that encourages you to collaborate and build relationships with the residents of Portia. Objectives range from crafting a specific gadget to make life easier, to harvesting new crops for neighbors in need. Similar to Harvest Moon, players can decorate their homes, find romance, and even have children.
Developer: ConcernedApe – Platform: PS4 | XB1 | Switch | PC | Android | iOS
Directly inspired by the Harvest Moon series, Stardew Valley is a farming sim RPG that offers players a relaxing adventure presented in 16-bit pixel art visuals. In it, you create your own character and set off for your grandfather’s old farm in hopes of restoring it to its former glory. Throughout several in-game years, you’ll get to know the many ins and outs of running a farm before moving on to other fields like ranching, wine-making, baking, etc.
The game features a day/night cycle that encourages you to plan out your day ahead of time, whether that be exploring mines, talking to neighbors, tending crops, or just hanging out at the local bar. The citizens of Stardew have distinct personalities that allow you to form tight bonds as friends or romantic partners. If you do decide to settle down, get married, and have kids, your new family will even move in with you.
Developer: Wayward Prophet – Platform: PC | PS4 | XB1 | Switch
World’s Dawn leans heavily into the retro aesthetic of early Harvest Moon games by presenting its blend of pixel art graphics and hand-drawn character overlays in the classic 4:3 aspect ratio offered by older televisions. And of all the entries on this list, it comes the closest to replicating the feeling of early HM games before they made the switch to 3D. Not to mention it’s one of the most relaxing video games you’ll ever play.
This stems from its open-ended design, which encourages you to set your own goals and aspirations. Whether that means honing your skills as a farmer, raising an army of healthy and happy cattle, or focusing your efforts on finding a soulmate. If you’re craving an authentic HM experience minus the old hardware those games are trapped on, World’s Dawn is the next best thing.
Developer: Glumberland – Platform: PC | XB1
Released just this year, 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.
Developer: Stolen Couch Games – Platform: PC | PS4 | XB1 | Android | iOS
Despite its mobile game presentation, Castaway Paradise is a robust life sim that’s not ashamed to show its admiration for Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon, being as bold as to reference both Nintendo series by name in the game’s description. In it, you play as your own original character who finds themselves trapped in a storm before eventually washing ashore on a gorgeous tropical island.
After introducing yourself to the locals, they decide to help you out by setting you up with a tent. It’s not long before you’re put to work as just about every resident has a request or favor to throw your way. Do your part, and you’ll be rewarded with decorations for your home, new areas to explore, and the ever-consuming joy that comes with befriending animal NPCs.
Mineko’s Night Market
Developer: Meowza Games – Platform: PC | Switch
To help prepare you for future Harvest Moon cravings, we’ve taken the liberty of including a couple upcoming titles that fall within the life sim/farming management umbrella. One such game is Mineko’s Night Market, a visually-striking adventure game with social sim gameplay mechanics and more cat cameos than you can probably handle.
In it, you play as a curious girl who’s still trying to adjust to her new life on a Japanese-inspired island overrun by felines. While the main story focuses on uncovering the island’s many secrets, namely the existence of a mythological Sun Cat named Abe, there’s a lot more to explore. When you’re not unraveling cat-god related mysteries, you’re tasked with running a shop, crafting goods, and caring for the island’s fur-babies.
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin
Developer: Edelweiss – Platform: PC | PS4 | XB1 | Switch
For Harvest Moon fans who aren’t afraid to roll their sleeves up and get messy, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is an action-packed farming sim that throws real-time combat into the mix. In it, you play as young rice farmer whose been banished to live on a dangerous island reserved for social outcasts. While exploring the island’s stunning yet treacherous environments, she finds a home in a mountainside village amongst the locals.
However, to prove her worth and earn a place amongst her peers, she’ll have to contribute by growing rice harvests and making the village safer. Players’ time is split between managing a rice paddy using realistic farming mechanics and venturing into the island’s most hazardous areas to defeat monsters and gather valuable resources. It’s unclear how these two components will mesh in the final game, but it’s worth checking out if not for Sakuna’s breath-taking visuals.
Developer: Overgrown – Platform: PC | PS4 | XB1 | Switch
Last but not least, Farm Folks is another farming sim RPG that wears its Harvest Moon influence on its sleeve. The upcoming game sees you customizing your own character before setting off into its bright and colorful open-world. Players are free to tackle whatever goals they want, be it growing crops, raising livestock, mining in caves, or fishing for that next big catch.
Along the way, you’ll get to meet the island’s inhabitants and unlock memories from your past. As new memories are discovered, the game’s story starts to unravel, revealing more about the player’s history and the world around them. It’s an intriguing premise and significant addition to the farming sim genre, which typically emphasizes gameplay over story.