11 games like Animal Crossing that'll help you wait it out for New Horizons

Image credit: Nintendo
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Sometimes you just want to have a nice relaxing time with your anthropomorphic animal neighbours. Animal Crossing is like a delightful cosy blanket of fun on a rainy day. From the classic GameCube game where we were the new resident in town, to New Leaf that gave us a new role as Mayor, Nintendo's adorable sim captured the hearts of players everywhere. Six years have passed by since New Leaf blessed us, and spin-offs like Happy Home Designer and Pocket Camp came along to help fill the void. When the Switch came out, the first question on many people’s minds was: ‘new Animal Crossing game when?’ After many summoning circles were formed, Nintendo finally revealed that there is indeed an Animal Crossing Switch game on the way. New Horizons is coming in 2020, and holds the promise of taking us away to a tropical island in what looks like the most exciting, picturesque Animal Crossing entry yet. 

Of course, being in debt might be awful in the real world, but owing Tom Nook an endless amount of bells is surprisingly not so bad. He doesn’t come knocking on your door and demanding payment everyday. On the contrary, you can take your time saving up to pay off the latest expansion to your little home. And that’s why it’s such a relaxing and gentle experience, because it lets you play at your own pace. Shaking trees, fishing, digging up items, decorating your abode, and making friends, are just some of the charming past times at the heart of the series. If you’ve had your fill of Pocket Camp, and you can Beardo wait for New Horizons, we’ve gathered a bountiful supply of games like Animal Crossing that will help distract you as you wait to board your flight to the tropical island and reunite with Isabelle.

Garden Paws

Available on: PC (coming soon to Nintendo Switch) 

Developers Bitten Toast Games brought this adorable simulation game to life on Kickstarter, and it rings a lot of similar bells to Animal Crossing in its gameplay and style. You can choose to play as a bunny, dragon, cat, bird, badger, horse, dog, fox, or chipmunk, and every single cute cartoony character is very customisable. You inherit a farm from your grandparents, and work with the Mayor and construction worker to build up the town and customise your home. Just as you need bells to expand your home, getting yourself a healthy supply of coins to work on the town is a must. By exploring caves for treasure, completing quests, and running your own shop to sell everything you find around the world, you'll begin to fill up that coin purse. As the town begins to expand, more residents will move in and unlock more items and quests. There are no enemies in the caves to pose a threat either, so it really does make for one very relaxing time that lets you play at your own pace. With farming, fishing, cooking, crafting, and animals to raise, there’s no shortage of ways to pass each day. 

Stardew Valley

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android

Ditching your old life as an office drone, you move into Pelican town and begin to run a farm you inherited. In Animal Crossing, visiting your favourite residents and lending them a hand by fulfilling favours or giving them gifts helps you bond with them. From Goldie to Bluebear and Tia, the town would be nothing without the animals you meet. The residents of Stardew Valley are also at the heart of its charm, and forming friendships or even romantic relationships with the townsfolk is one of the most relatable, and heartwarming aspects. Lots of activities are also very reminiscent of what you get up to in Animal Crossing, such as fishing, mining, digging, and working to save up to improve your farm and house. You can also decorate your home, and while there is combat involved in the caves, you still get to decide how you want to spend your day. 

My Time at Portia

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

There are endless things to do in My Time at Portia, and many Animal Crossing fans will feel right at home in its cartoony world. Surprisingly, it’s set in a post-apocalyptic time where lots of secrets dwell beneath its unassuming charm. When you move into the town, you assume the role as a builder who can craft all manner of buildings and items to fulfill commissions. These commissions are your main source of income to start with, but with ample opportunity to set out into the big open-world and discover relics, go fishing, raise cows and chickens, and farm, you’re free to build a life for yourself in whatever way you wish. There is also more of a storyline to this game, so you can also work towards completing the various quests to uncover the mysteries of Portia. Getting to know the residents is also a huge part of the experience. Again, there is combat involved, but if you’d rather avoid the fighting, you can send out the Civil Corps to collect items for you so you can avoid venturing out into dangerous areas. Overall it’s quite slow in pace and a relatively gentle life sim. 

Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a very appealing and relaxing open-world adventure that takes you on a journey across the island of Yonder in Gemea. With no threats in sight, you’re free to roam the world and do whatever you want at your own pace. You can get to know the inhabitants of the world and fulfills quests for them to learn useful skills and tricks. There are a lot of professions you can try out, from being a chef to a tailor, and running your own little customisable farm. The world is made of several different environments and biomes, giving every area its own distinctive look and feel. As you explore, creatures who roam the lands will become your friends if you feed them treats. With plenty of different ways to fulfill objectives and lots of skills to build, the life you lead is up to you every step of the way. Yonder truly is a very charming, chilled out experience that may appeal to Animal Crossing fans. 

Fantasy Life

Available on: Nintendo 3DS

If you were a big fan of New Leaf, chances are you still have your Nintendo 3DS lying around, and if you fancy giving it a new lease of life of the fantasy variety, Fantasy Life is a great way to fill that Animal Crossing shaped hole. In the world of Reveria, you can choose one of 12 professions, from being a carpenter to a mercenary. Each profession gives you a certain skill set and lifestyle, and you can switch between them at any time. In the world, you can get to know the residents of the different towns, own several houses that can be decorated however you wish, and complete quests and activities that gain you bliss points to aid in your progression. Along your adventures, you’ll meet people who can join you and help you in certain scenarios. With a cutesy style and lots of similar elements, this is a great option for the handheld console.

Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns

Available on: Nintendo 3DS

Ahead of the upcoming Doraemon Story of Seasons, which is currently being made for the Switch, Trio of Towns is the most recent Story of Seasons game available, and it's a charming, more expansive entry in the series that has a similar feel to Animal Crossing. After leaving the city to peruse your dream of living your life in the countryside, you set up a new farm that lies at the crossroads between three towns. Each town has its own unique items, style, and residents, and you can become friends with all of the locals in each neighbouring town. It gives you a lot of freedom to live out your best farm life however you want. Activities include growing crops, raising pets and livestock, making clothes, and cooking up a storm. And for anyone who loves decorating, you're sure to enjoy making up your farm and home. 

Castaway Paradise

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, iOS, Android 

Originally released on mobile and PC before coming to and consoles last year, Castaway Paradise has very similar vibes to Animal Crossing, and seems to draw inspiration from the series in its own way. After finding yourself ashore on an island when you get caught up in a storm, you encounter some of the locals who give you a tent to call home. After setting up your tent, you can set out to explore the island, get to know the residents, and work towards unlocking more parts of the island to explore. Some of the residents are also anthropomorphic animals like pigs and ducks, so it will feel very familiar. Just as you do favours for Punchy and Hamlet and any fellow neighbours in New Leaf, you can help the villagers with their activities in Castaway Paradise and form friendships. You can even fish, catch bugs, and grow your own crops. It’s probably the closest tropical Animal Crossing-like experience you can currently play while you wait it out for New Horizons.

Staxel

Available on: PC 

Staxel is a cute blocky sandbox adventure that has a lot of elements that will feel familiar to you. As the newest resident in the village, you’re tasked with restoring a farm. Getting to know the residents and forming friendships is a big part of the game, and you can help the villagers out in various ways. The locals will help you get settled in, and all have their own unique personalities. With your rundown home and farm, you’ll have your work cut out for you, but you can spruce the place up however you like with lots of customization options (like putting floor tiles and picking furniture). Eventually you’ll be able to expand and grow your farm with some hard work. And thanks to its sandbox nature, you can even customise the world around you. If you fancy a break from farming and talking to your neighbours, you can also venture out into the Wilds and catch bugs, fish, and hunt. With lots of collectible items and hobbies to occupy your time, it’s a delightfully laid back little adventure that also features co-op functionality. 

Happy Street

Available on: iOS, Android 

Building a town with cute animal friends? Happy Street is a great alternative for anyone looking for something on their smartphone. As a little fox called Billy (who wears goggles on his head - very important, that), you float down in a hot air balloon to land on the ground and be greeted by Pepin, the globe trotting extraordinaire. With Pepin, you set out to build yourself a new home and a town to make new friends. After collecting resources around the landscape and constructing more buildings, new animals will move into the town you’re beginning to grow. With the chance to explore different areas, expand your town, and build all manner of shops and stands while you chat to the residents and fulfill objectives, it’s a fun little mobile game that will help stave off your hunger for more Animal Crossing adventures.

The Sims 4

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4 

The Sims is the classic life sim, and there’s a lot to love about it. If you enjoyed designing the perfect homes for all your favourite animal pals in Happy Home Designer, or putting together your camp in Pocket Camp, creating homes in the Sims 4 takes that to the next level with some very satisfying and intuitive home building tools. Instead of having neighbours who are elephants with teapot-shaped heads or camo alligators, you have human-like sims. You’re not in debt to start off with, but you can be if you don’t send your sim to work and avoid using the classic money cheat (we all do it); it’s entirely up to you. Be warned though, if you don’t pay your bills, your power and water will eventually get shut off. If you think about it, Tom Nook is good, really. I mean, maybe you didn’t want that extra floor space, but hey, at least you could take your time racking up those bells without having to worry about losing your amenities. With a vast library of expansions available to add more content to your sim worlds, there's no end to the amount of activities you can get up to. Some are even quite similar, such as collecting bugs, going fishing, and finding collectibles around the towns. 

Little Dragon Cafe 

Available on: PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Little Dragon Cafe is another relaxing little simulation that’s all about relationships, raising a dragon, and running your very own cafe. The sense of community in this game from the original creator of Harvest Moon packs it with heart and charm. You play as either one of two twins, Rin and Ren, who find themselves having to run a cafe when their mother mysteriously falls ill. You also come into the possession of a dragon egg, which you must nurture and raise on top of trying to keep the cafe running smoothly, and work to find out what happened to your mother. All in a day’s work, right? But you won’t always be behind the counter serving up dishes. You can also venture out and explore the world with your little dragon friend, farm for ingredients, make friends with the residents of the world, and discover new recipes to spice up your menu. As your dragon baby continues to grow, you can even ride on its back to make exploration all the more interesting. It’s a very chilled out experience with a fun story, little cooking mini games, and charming characters.