15 games like Animal Crossing that are so wholesome it hurts

Animal Crossing: New Horizons
(Image credit: Nintendo)

The best games like Animal Crossing can help you find a little slice of calm. With some wonderful cosy experiences out there that capture the same kind of feel or have similar features, there's no shortage of great games to check out if you're after something like Animal Crossing: New Horizons. From activities you can get up to such as fishing, cooking, farming, bug catching, and even diving, to setting up your very own home and getting to know the local residents, the games in this list all have something to offer Animal Crossing fans. 

While some of the best Switch indie games are included here, there are a range of picks across many different platforms, so you're sure to find something to suit you. So, if you're ready to take a break from island life to experience some new horizons, read on below to discover our selection of the best games like Animal Crossing. 

The best games like Animal Crossing...

15. A Short Hike

A Short Hike

(Image credit: Adamgryu)

Developer: adamgryu
Platform(s):
 PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch

Less like Animal Crossing in mechanics, but very like it in vibe. This delightful little indie is about exploring the lush landscape of Hawk Peak Provincial Park. No pressure, no time limit, just one little birb making friends, going for a swim and stretching his wings to soar between cliffs. It'll give you the same warm fuzzy feelings you get from Animal Crossing at its best, and demand very little from you in terms of time or difficulty. Short and sweet, it's the perfect way to kill a few hours when the world outside is being particularly crazy. 

14. Garden Paws

Games like Animal Crossing - Garden Paws

(Image credit: Bitten Toast Games)

Developer: Bitten Toast Games
Platform(s): PC, 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 customizable. You inherit a farm from your grandparents, and work with the Mayor and construction worker to build up the town and customize 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. 

13. Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands

Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands

(Image credit: Rokaplay / Maple Whispering Limited)

Developer: Alchemist Interactive
Platform(s):
PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, iOS

Like Animal Crossing: New Horizons this game sees you building a new life on an island, but the main difference here is that you've arrived by shipwreck, rather than Dodo Airlines. You're in charge of setting up camp for you and your fellow survivors, farming crops to feed the masses, and ultimately trying to build a ship to escape. Work with your fellow castaways and they'll give you side quests, which are the perfect excuse to explore and interact with the various flora and fauna. Unlike the serene world of Animal Crossing, Stranded Sails is home to some supernatural nasties you'll need to face, and that whole "cursed" thing is a worry. At least you'll have the soothing sounds of the waves to help keep your anxiety at bay. 

12. Forager

Forager

(Image credit: HopFrog)

Developer: HopFrog
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

If grinding for resources is your favorite part of the Animal Crossing experience, then Forager is the game for you. Its cute visuals hide an addictive loop of exploring, resource management, building, combat, crafting, and puzzles that will keep you lost in its brightly colored world for hours, days, weeks... what even is time anymore? The developer says the game was inspired by Stardew Valley, Terraria, and Zelda and it shows, stealing good bits from all of them to make something new and special. It's up to you what you do and when, so you're free to make spend time in the game doing whatever you want, whether that's dungeon raiding or obsessively building. 

11. My Time at Portia

My Time at Portia

(Image credit: Pathea)

Developer: Pathea Games
Platform(s): 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 of 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. 

10. Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Games like Animal Crossing - Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

(Image credit: Prideful Sloth)

Developer: Prideful Sloth
Platform(s): 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 their 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 customizable 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. 

9. Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town

Games like Animal Crossing - Story of Season: Pioneers of Olive Town

(Image credit: Marvelous)

Developer: Marvelous Inc
Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is a charming, more expansive entry in the series that has a similar feel to Animal Crossing. Very much also channeling Stardew Valley vibes, you move to a new town that's languishing and struggling, in order to start your own farm. But it gives you a lot of freedom to live out your best farm life however you want, but also revitalize the town, and make friends with the residents there. 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. 

8. Castaway Paradise

Castaway Paradise

(Image credit: Stolen Couch Games)

Developer: Stolen Couch Games
Platform(s)
: PC, Xbox One, PS4, iOS, Android 

Originally released on mobile and PC before coming to consoles, 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 favors for Punchy and Hamlet and any fellow neighbors 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.

7. Staxel

Staxel

(Image credit: Plukit)

Developer: Plukit
Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch

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 customize the world around you. If you fancy a break from farming and talking to your neighbors, 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. 

6. The Sims 4

Sims 4

(Image credit: EA)

Developer: Maxis
Platform(s): 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 favorite animal pals in the Happy Home Paradise DLC or Happy Home Designer, creating homes in The Sims 4 takes that to the next level with some very satisfying and intuitive home building tools. Instead of having neighbors 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. 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 number of activities you can get up to. Some are even quite similar, such as collecting bugs, going fishing, and finding collectibles around the towns. 

5. Coral Island

Coral Island

(Image credit: Stairway Games)

Developer: Stairway Games
Platform(s): PC (Early Access) 

Coral Island offers up another slice of island life, only here you're running your very own farm. With crops to tend and animals to care for, you can also help to try and bring life back to the nearby town and form bonds with the local residents. Just like Animal Crossing, you can also choose your own outfits and customize your character so you can express yourself in style. And not unlike the way your island has a ranking and a museum to add to in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you can also help increase the towns rank in Coral Island by expanding the local museum and lending a hand to restore heritage sites. Oh, and you can even go diving in the coral reef just as you can go diving in the sea as part of Tom Nooks getaway package (you won't meet a wise otter named Pascal, though). With plenty of freedom, you can decide how you want to spend your time. 

4. Disney Dreamlight Valley 

Disney Dreamlight Valley

(Image credit: Gameloft/Disney)

Developer: Gameloft
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch

If you're looking for something a lot like Animal Crossing, Disney Dreamlight Valley is just the ticket - Gameloft's adventure life sim hybrid shares a lot of similarities with the world of Animal Crossing from its feature to its playstyle. When you drift off to sleep, you find yourself in a magical Valley that has seen better days thanks to a force known as the Forgetting. As you set out to help restore the valley and get to heart of some mysterious occurrences, you start out with your very own little home just like you do in Animal Crossing. You also live alongside and help villagers who are characters plucked from beloved Disney and Pixar adventures. With features such as fishing, mining, cooking, and crafting, many of its activities will feel familiar to Animal Crossing fans, and Dreamlight Duties see you complete goals not unlike the Nook Miles program in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 

3. Stardew Valley

Games like Animal Crossing - Stardew Valley

(Image credit: Chucklefish)

Developer: ConcernedApe
Platform(s): 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 favorite residents and lending them a hand by fulfilling favors 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 heart-warming 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 coin in order 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. 

2. Ooblets

Games like Animal Crossing - Ooblets

(Image credit: Glumberland)

Developer: Glumberland
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Ooblets is what you would get if you let Animal Crossing and Pokemon breed. This creature collecting adventure puts you in the world of Oob, and lets you slowly uncover the town, and its people. The creatures themselves - the titular Ooblets - are wonderfully quirky, and you'll be able to compete in dance battles to level them up and interact with the other Ooblet keepers. It's gentle and beautifully bizarre, and just up any Animal Crossing fan's street. 

1. Cozy Grove

Games like Animal Crossing - Cozy Grove

(Image credit: Spry Fox)

Developer: Spry Fox
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Apple Arcade

If you're looking for games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons that channel many of the game's elements, then you need to check out Cozy Grove. It's a game that lets you play as a Spirit Scout, with the aim of helping the spirits of Cozy Grove. You'll run errands, cook, fish, make friends, tend to animals, and more. And just like Animal Crossing, there's only so much you can do each day, which makes it the perfect game to add to your daily routine. Plus, it's super adorable. 


Looking for more recommendations? Why not explore our pick of the best Switch games you can play right now. Or keep track of future releases with our roundup of upcoming Switch games, and new games for 2023.

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good. 

With contributions from