Games11 Must-Play Games Like Animal Crossing You Can't Miss

11 Must-Play Games Like Animal Crossing You Can’t Miss

The sales record-shattering Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing: New Horizons has transformed many people into crafting, fishing, and K.K. Slider-song collecting first-time gamers.

But, when they find themselves weary after collecting their ten-thousandth sea bass, one question lingers in their minds: What game should I play next?

If you are one of the many whose first step into gaming came through Tom Nook’s Deserted Island Package, you are in the right place. The following list features games like Animal Crossing in some significant way – inspired by some of the most popular reasons people adore ACNH. Here, you will find life simulation games, games with a well-developed crafting system, and games so adorable you won’t be able to quit smiling.

Here are 11 great games like Animal Crossing that fans should try next:

Crafting: Stardew Valley

A pixelated love letter to the long-running Story of Seasons series, Stardew Valley is a popular open-ended farming-simulation RPG game. The day-to-day activities of Stardew Valley are similar to Story of Seasons and include fishing, raising livestock, growing crops, and building relationships with the townsfolk.

Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing are two beloved life simulation games that share a number of similarities, despite their distinct settings and gameplay mechanics. Both games offer a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing players to immerse themselves in charming, super cozy worlds. Whether you’re tending to your farm in Stardew Valley or decorating your island in Animal Crossing, the core appeal lies in the freedom to shape your environment and build relationships with quirky characters.

One of the most striking similarities is the focus on community and social interactions. In both games, you’re not just an isolated individual; you’re part of a larger community. Stardew Valley has Pelican Town, filled with diverse NPCs, each with their own personalities, stories, and problems. Animal Crossing has a rotating cast of animal villagers who move in and out of your town or island. Building relationships with these characters is a significant aspect of both games, whether it’s by completing tasks, giving gifts, or simply engaging in heartfelt conversations.

Another parallel is the emphasis on customization and personal expression. In Stardew Valley, you can design your farm any way you like, choosing what crops to plant, where to place buildings, and how to decorate your home. Animal Crossing offers similar freedom, allowing you to decorate your house and even the entire island. The plethora of design options in both games ensures that no two players will have the same experience.

Both games also operate on a real-time clock and calendar, making the gameplay experience deeply immersive. Seasons change, festivals occur, and your actions are often dictated by the time of day or the weather. This adds a layer of realism and urgency to otherwise laid-back gameplay.

Lastly, both games are open-ended. There’s no “winning” in the traditional sense; the joy comes from the journey itself. Whether you’re fishing, bug-catching, mining, or simply chatting with neighbors, both Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing offer a fulfilling, stress-free experience that keeps players coming back for more.

One of the biggest differences between Stardew Valley and Story of Seasons is that the crafting system of Stardew Valley is far more developed. Most of the items you collect throughout the game can live a new life through your crafting creations. There is also more flexibility in terms of choosing the virtual life you want to live, including marrying without regard to gender and the option to adopt a child.

Life Simulation: The Story of Seasons Series

Formerly known as the Harvest Moon series, the Story of Seasons series is a farming-centric life simulation collection of games. In each rendition of Story of Seasons, you play as a novice farmer transforming a dilapidated farm into one that is successful and thriving. When you are off the clock, you can befriend your neighbors, participate in local events, and eventually get married/start a family.

The Story of Seasons series and Animal Crossing are both life simulation games that have captured the hearts of players worldwide. Though they each offer unique experiences, there are several key similarities that make them super similar in many ways.

Firstly, both games emphasize the importance of community and social interactions. In Story of Seasons, you find yourself in a small rural town where you interact with a variety of characters, each with their own personalities and backstories. Similarly, Animal Crossing features a community of anthropomorphic animals that you can befriend, each with their own quirks and preferences. Building relationships is a core gameplay element in both series, whether it’s through gift-giving, completing tasks, or participating in events.

Customization is another area where the two games overlap. In Story of Seasons, you have the freedom to design your farm, choose what crops to grow, what animals to raise, and how to arrange your land. Animal Crossing offers a similar level of customization, allowing you to decorate your home and, in later titles like New Horizons, even terraform your entire island. The ability to personalize your space is a significant draw for players in both games.

The concept of time is also handled similarly. Both games operate on a real-time clock, meaning that the in-game time and seasons correspond to those of the real world. This adds a layer of immersion and realism, as players must consider factors like weather and seasonal changes when planning their activities. Festivals, holidays, and special events are also timed to coincide with real-world seasons, adding a sense of continuity and progression to the gameplay.

Economic management is another shared feature. In Story of Seasons, you sell crops, livestock products, and crafted items to earn money, which can be reinvested into your farm. In Animal Crossing, you have various ways to earn Bells, from fishing and bug-catching to trading in the “stalk market.” Managing resources and planning for economic growth are integral aspects of both games.

Lastly, both games offer open-ended gameplay with no definitive “end.” Players are free to pursue their own goals and interests, whether that’s achieving a five-star island rating in Animal Crossing or winning the heart of your favorite villager in Story of Seasons. The journey is the reward, and both games excel in providing a relaxing, yet engaging environment where you can lose yourself for hours on end.

Crafting: Minecraft

If you’re looking for games with a well-developed crafting system, one of the most culturally significant titles in gaming history, Minecraft, is an open-world, sandbox game that boasts 112 million active players every single month. As you explore Minecraft its world changes in real time, making each playthrough a brand-new experience.

In Minecraft, you will gather raw materials such as wood, stone, sand, and clay to craft a world of items that will help you along your exciting journey. With extensive multiplayer modes and user-generated content to explore, Minecraft is a game you will lose hours in without realizing it.

Both games place a strong emphasis on freedom and customization. In Minecraft, you have the liberty to build anything from simple huts to grandiose castles using a variety of blocks. Similarly, “Animal Crossing” allows you to personalize your home and, in the latest installment, “New Horizons,” even reshape your entire island. This level of customization provides players with a sense of ownership and creative freedom.

Community and social interaction are also central to both games. Minecraft’s multiplayer modes offer opportunities for collaboration, trade, and social engagement, much like the community aspects of Animal Crossing, where visiting friends’ islands and trading items are integral parts of the experience. Both games offer a sense of belonging to a larger community, whether it’s a server or a village.

Resource management is another shared feature. In Minecraft, you mine ores, gather food, and collect various other resources to survive and build. In Animal Crossing, you engage in activities like fishing, bug catching, and fossil digging to earn Bells, the in-game currency, or to complete your museum collections. The act of collecting and managing resources is a rewarding experience in both games.

The concept of time also plays a significant role in both titles. While Animal Crossing operates on a real-time clock that influences events, seasons, and creature availability, Minecraft features a day-night cycle that affects enemy spawns and other gameplay elements. This adds a layer of immersion and strategic planning to both games.

Exploration is another commonality. Minecraft offers a vast world with different biomes, structures, and even dimensions to explore. Animal Crossing has a smaller scale but compensates with seasonal changes, special events, and a rotating cast of visiting NPCs, making each day’s gameplay feel fresh and exciting.

Both games also serve as outlets for creativity. Whether it’s the complex redstone contraptions in Minecraft or the intricate island designs in Animal Crossing, players have ample opportunities to let their imaginations run wild.

Need more reasons to play Minecraft? Check out these ridiculously cool Minecraft creations.

Life Simulation: My Time at Portia

The story of My Time at Portia begins similarly to a Story of Seasons game: you arrive in the post-apocalyptic town Portia and inherit your father’s old workshop. You are then tasked to return the shop to its former glory. What My Time at Portia has that other life simulators often lack is a heavy emphasis on story.

With each mission you complete, Portia expands and you learn more about the story behind this small town. If you are not the biggest fan of collecting materials, My Time at Portia offers ways around the grind of collecting that can help you focus on other aspects of the game you are more interested in.

Both games focus on community and relationship-building. In “My Time at Portia,” you’re a newcomer to the town of Portia, where you interact with a variety of characters, each with their own unique personalities, stories, and quests. Similarly, in “Animal Crossing,” you’re part of a community filled with anthropomorphic animal residents, each with their own quirks and preferences. Building and maintaining relationships is a key aspect of both games, whether it’s through completing tasks, giving gifts, or engaging in conversations.

Customization is another significant similarity. In “My Time at Portia,” you inherit a workshop that you can upgrade and customize, along with the freedom to craft furniture and decorations. “Animal Crossing” offers a similar level of customization, allowing you to decorate your home and, in titles like “New Horizons,” even modify the landscape of your entire island. The ability to personalize your environment is a major draw in both games, providing a sense of ownership and creative freedom.

Both games also incorporate elements of resource management and crafting. In “My Time at Portia,” you gather materials to craft items, upgrade your workshop, and complete various building projects around town. In “Animal Crossing,” you collect resources like wood, stone, and various other items to craft furniture, tools, and decorations. The joy of collecting, crafting, and seeing your projects come to life is a rewarding experience shared by both games.

Time management is another shared feature. While “Animal Crossing” operates on a real-time clock, “My Time at Portia” has its own in-game day-night cycle and calendar. Both games feature seasonal changes, special events, and festivals that require you to plan your activities and make the most of your time.

You can check out our My Time at Portia Review here.

Life Simulation: The Sims 4

Everyone and their mama has crossed paths with a Sims game, and for good reason. The latest rendition, The Sims 4, is still being updated frequently after its initial release in 2014. No matter what interests you within Animal Crossing, that interest can be expanded upon in The Sims 4.

For example, if you adore being your villager’s interior decorator, you can create detailed, realistic homes in The Sims 4. If you like to recreate your favorite television shows using Harvey’s Island, you can further develop those narratives on the Sims. With a myriad of mods and DLC to explore, the limits of The Sims 4 experience are as wide as your imagination.

Life Simulation: BitLife

The mega-popular phone app Bitlife is the tumultuous, yet always entertaining marriage of a life simulator game and a choose-your-adventure novel. Anything and everything is possible in Bitlife and each moral decision is yours alone to make. Unlike ACNH, Bitlife doesn’t operate on a 24-hour schedule. You move through your Bitlives at a quicker pace and can tweak your strategy depending on what you want to accomplish.

Its sense of humor shines brightly through Bitlife’s weekly challenges, which encourage you to explore the wacky possibilities of its world. Recently, Bitlife began its vampire challenge, where you “live a long and bloodthirsty life in the Romanian countryside.”

Crafting: No Man’s Sky

The intergalactic adventure epic No Man’s Sky has expanded astronomically since its 2016 launch. In No Man’s Sky, you play from the perspective of an astronaut who has crashed onto a random planet. As you rebuild your ship and soon resume your space exploration, you slink deeper and deeper into the secrets lurking within the galaxies around you.

And of course, to have a successful space mission, you need to craft. With your trusty blueprints in hand, you mine minerals and elements from the planets you visit to make items that drive the story as well as upgrades for your ship and spacesuit.

No Man’s Sky has come a LONG way since its initial launch, taking it from a rage-inducing crapfest to an absolute MUST-play.

Crafting: The Forest

The Forest is a first-person, open-world survival horror game where you play as the survivor of a plane crash. As you search for your son, you are forced to explore, survive, and fight through an untracked, wild forest overrun by cannibalistic genetic mutants. To protect yourself, you must use resources from the aforementioned forest to craft a shelter, weapons, medicine, food, and more.

Now I know exactly what you’re thinking: “Holy tonal shift Batman!” But, if you found yourself intrigued instead of terrified by Animal Crossing’s notorious Bunny Day mascot Zipper, jumping from Animal Crossing to survival horror wouldn’t be too far of a stretch.

Cute: Little Big Planet 3

If it’s cute games like Animal Crossing that you’re looking for, look no further than Little Big Planet. Starring the adorable Playstation mascot Sackboy, Little Big Planet is a puzzle platformer that understands the power of imagination. The game has a linear story, but what makes the game a must-play is its user-generated content. Just as you can design your own levels, at least 8 million community levels are available for you to explore.

If ACNH’s terraforming caters to only the tip of your creative iceberg, the possibilities of Little Big Planet’s “Create” mode will blow your mind.

Cute: Goat Simulator

The Animal Crossing series features its fair share of anime-inspired, cartoon goats as villagers. In Goat Simulator, on the other hand, you are put into the hooves of a realistic goat as they wreak havoc on an unsuspecting town.

Every troubling event you cause earns you a certain amount of points. This encourages you to do as much damage as possible. What started as a parody of the simulation genre of gaming, is a full-fledged, Easter egg-filled adventure that will have you wondering if goats are your spirit animals.

Cute: Katamari Damacy REROLL

Katamari Damacy REROLL is a high-definition release of the oh-so-satisfying Playstation 2 classic, Katamari Damacy. You play a prince ordered by your father, the King of All Cosmos, to rebuild the cosmos after he accidentally destroys it. To recreate stars and planets, you move from place to place collecting everything you see with a small ball until it transforms into a star-sized mass.

At the beginning of the level, your ball collects tiny things like thumbtacks and coins. By the end, you could be collecting entire continents. Katamari Damacy REROLL is lovably bizarre from its gameplay to its story, with vibrant characters you will want to see through until the very end.

Want to check out another game like Animal Crossing? Check out our Palia beta impressions.

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Nia Simone
is a pop culture writer currently residing in Richmond, Virginia. Her writing can be found at Black Girl Nerds, Everyday Power, and Interests include memorizing Kingdom Hearts speed-running strats and eating as much seafood pho as possible.

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