Don’t let the cutesy design of Animal Crossing fool you. It’s the sixth all-time best-seller Nintendo franchise, with over 70 million copies sold. Games like Animal Crossing don’t crunch these numbers, but, luckily, they can deliver similar experiences.
2020’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons became a hit during the pandemic “climax.” It’s was the open-world multiplayer social gaming experience the world needed by the time.
Yet, you may have hundreds, even thousands of hours in the game already. Or is it that you don’t have a Nintendo console? Either way, we’re looking at other games like Animal Crossing you can play on other platforms.
Selecting Games like Animal Crossing
Finding games like Animal Crossing is about understanding the formula of the multiplayer. In particular, we’re looking at the elements that make up Animal Crossing: New Horizon.
- Co-Op: up to 8 players can join locally or online to play on a single Island.
- Open-world sandbox: New Horizons is an open-world game without set goals. Players can explore the world and do a wide array of relaxing activities. These include gathering items, fishing, planting, and home decor.
- Social simulation: Animal Crossing games lean heavily into the social elements. Players can interact with a plethora of anthropomorphic NPCs in the villages. Moreover, they customize certain aspects of the NPC towns at the start of their journey.
- Real-time mechanics: New Horizons’ mechanics happen in real time. This includes a seasons cycle, and a day & night cycle.
- Farming simulation: the latest title in the series includes a fair farming system. Players gather seeds on the island, then plant these seeds in their households. Moreover, there’re cooking recipes to put crops in use.
- Crafting system: there’s also a crafting system available. Players can create tools and furniture on workbenches by using crafting recipes and materias.
- Customization: the series has high levels of customization. Players create a custom avatar and go to an island. There, they can develop the character in any way they want.
- Art style: the game uses a creative, cute, and simplistic art style.
- Gameplay: similarly, the gameplay is simple and easy to understand. It’s appealing for every family member. Personally, I’ve found it particularly appealing for kids and women who have never played video games before. It’s the kind of game you play alongside your partner, children, or parents.
The best games like Animal Crossing offer a mixture of these elements. More importantly, we browsed alternatives emphasizing casual, social, wholesome, and family-friendly gaming experiences.
Games Like Animal Crossing
- Developer: ConcernedApe
- Publisher: ConcernedApe
- Release Date: February 2016
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, PS4, PSVita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android.
Our selection opens with a game so similar you can find alternative options on our Games like Stardew Valley list. For example, like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley also has a unique art style: old-school RPG visuals and music.
The title follows a former office worker moving into Pelican town to run a farm. Much like Animal Crossing, the experience is about bonding with the residents. The NPCs are at the heart of the title, and the overall tone is wholesome, family-friendly, and easy to pick.
Its main gameplay loop, though, is the farming simulator. You can plant crops, use machinery, gather materials, craft tools, and raise cattle. Moreover, your character has a fair progression system to make farming easier. Other activities include exploring a cave for materials, which is how the game adds a light combat system.
Overall, Stardew Valley is a smaller version of Animal Crossing. For example, instead of inviting 8 players to your island, you can only play the game with up to three players.
- Developer: Spry Fox LLC
- Publisher: Spry Fox LLC
- Release Date: April 2021
- Platform: Windows, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, iOS (Apple Arcade)
Cozy Grove is as charming as its name suggests. The game takes you to a hand-drawn landscape covered in snow. It’s a single-player game with over 40 hours of campaign and months’ worth of side activities.
You play as a Spirit Scout, running through the forest searching for hidden secrets and wandering ghosts. When you find a spirit, you discover its story and bring back color and life into the titular town.
You can do the usual activities casual, lighthearted games offer back in the town. You can craft, collect spirit animals, decorate your camp, cook, fish, and do some quests for the ghosts.
Here, players will understand the game happens in real-time, just as in Animal Crossing. The dozens of NPCs and characters follow schedules and cycles. Moreover, they have unique stories you can unravel over time.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
- Developer: Marvelous Inc
- Publisher: XSEED Games, Marvelous Inc
- Release Date: February 2021
- Platform: Windows, Nintendo Switch
Story of Seasons is a popular anime first and a second video game series. Olive Town is the latest entry in the series, coming back to a land where seasons never change. Sadly, though, there’s no multiplayer for this game.
The title follows a playable character who inherits a farm in Olive Town. You’re a peaceful, friendly community member, and your job is to raise the farm, bond with the residents, and make a new home.
It’s an overly familiar gameplay loop, and it may be exactly what you’re looking for. You help a struggling town with your crafting and farming abilities and enjoy a charming social simulation with many NPCs.
Then, there’s a wide array of activities you can do. You can grow crops, raise pets, raise livestock, make clothes, cook, and more. Additionally, there’s a modest home decorating system to customize your farm and household.
- Developer: Wonderscope
- Publisher: Wonderscope
- Release Date: April 2021
- Platform: Windows, macOS
Hokko Life is a peaceful social sim that hits the right buttons for Animal Crossing fans. Mostly because players enter a world full of anthropomorphic residents, ready to make new NPC friends.
You play as a foreigner arriving in Hokko after falling asleep on the train. You can customize your character and change your looks, hairstyle, and apparel.
Then, once you enter the city, you get a house. Naturally, there’re multiple house design options to decorate your place. This system expands to the rest of the town, so you can create the city of your dreams, down to the villager’s houses.
And whenever you’re not crafting and decorating, there’re tons of activities to do. You can fish, grow crops, mine, dig for resources, talk to villagers, hunt, and more. Overall, it’s as close to ANimal Crossings as you’d expect, only without the co-op features.
The Sims 4
- Developer: Maxis
- Publisher: EA
- Release Date: September 2014
- Platform: Windows, macOS, PS4, Xbox One
The Sims 4 lacks anthropomorphic friends, but it adds social features. The game focuses on creativity, freedom, and interactive NPCs. Not only that: The Sims 4 shares similñar successful sales numbers as New Horizons.
The game is about creating a custom avatar and living life. You pursue a career, study, develop skills, meet friends, romance NPCs, make money, lose money, eat, sleep, party, and dive into the pool.
You buy food, clothes, and materials to build your house with the money you earn. And as for your home, the game offers a comprehensive building and customizing system that’s dangerously addictive. Moreover, you can create a house from scratch and then create a new character for a new home. Your different characters can mingle together and become friends and family.
Lastly, you can decide the kind of life you want to have. It can be vicarious, leading your Sims to a path of laziness, or it can be prosperous, taking your Sim to the top of the profession you choose. Unfortunately, the Sims 4 has a ludicrous amount of DLCs, but you may experience the base game all the same.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
- Developer: Prideful Sloth
- Publisher: Prideful Sloth
- Release Date: July 2017
- Platform: Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch
Yonder is a relaxing open-world adventure about helping others. Like most games in our list, the NPCs are at the heart of the title, so the social simulation plays a big part in this entry. Similarly, the art style, details, and graphics also play a big role, as Yonder offers a nice-looking experience from beginning to end.
You play as a shipwreck survivor, landing on the shores of Gemea. Gemea is a tropical island with eight different biomes. Here, you pursue the mystery of a mysterious fog -the Murk- to stop environmental pollution.
Soon, you become Gemea’s hero. As the hero, you tame wild animals, manage various farms, learn professions, and solve puzzles. All of this works in real-time, with a night & day cycle and seasonal in-game events.
As for the farming, it is quite light. You can have farms in various regions, but you don’t have to micro-manage every aspect of your properties. Instead, they produce items for you, which you can use for cooking and crafting recipes.
- Developer: Bittten Toast Games
- Publisher: Bittten Toast Games
- Release Date: October 2018
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch
Garden Paws take many elements from Animal Crossing, but the tone is more relaxed. So, it delivers charming visuals, easy gameplay, and a slow-paced experience.
As per usual, you inherit a farm from your grandparents. Moreover, the mission of building up the surrounding town and helping its residents. You’ll unlock additional quests, items, and residents as you expand the city.
You can’t customize the character, but you can choose from a roster of cute options. Playable heroes include a human, a dragon, a dog, a cart, and a horse. Naturally, the world is full of anthropomorphic characters ready to become your friends.
Aside from bonding with the residents, there’s also a wide range of activities to boost your gameplay. Side activities include raising animals, growing crops, mining, fishing, treasure hunts, managing a shop, side quest, seasonal events, crafting furniture, home decor, and more. These side activities raise money to buy tools, crafting materials, and apparel.
- Developer: Glumberland
- Publisher: Glumberland
- Release Date: July 2020
- Platform: Windows, Nintendo Switch
Ooblets is a casual farming and social simulation with a unique and colorful art style. On top of these core elements, the game also adds collecting as a major selling point.
In essence, you manage a farm, where you can train “ooblets,” silly creatures you can collect. You can improve, cultivate, and customize your farm with vast freedom. On top of that, you can also customize your character’s look, clothing, and hairstyle.
Outside of the farm, you explore Oob, a world you can uncover over time. Like other games like Animal Crossing, Oob is full of friendly NPCs. The people are charming, wholesome, and already share unique stories. Then, the titular Ooblets are so quirky and fun they can onlñy level up in dance battles against other Ooblet Keepers.
Overall, this is a gentle, bizarre, and family-friendly game. It’s like Animal Crossing in an alternate dimension, and the gateway portal is right down the street.
- Developer: Stolen Couch Games
- Publisher: Stolen Couch Games
- Release Date: January 2015
- Platform: Windows, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, iOS, Android
Castaway Paradise has a similar premise as Animal Crossing. You play outside with the job of revitalizing a foreign town. Along the journey, you help a plethora of animals and residents uncover a series of quirky stories.
Similarly, you can build and decorate structures with a fair crafting system. There’s also a farming system to grow crops while cleaning the sea and the land from garbage, seaweeds, and other obstacles.
During the day, the residents can assign you randomized side quests, and these grant you XP. There’re also special holidays (like Christmas) that change the gamer’s decoration. During these times, you help villagers decorate the island.
Ultimately, Castaway Paradise is an open-world sandbox without a clear main objective. Overall, this wholesome experience is something Animal Crossing fans will appreciate. Sadly, though, it doesn’t have a multiplayer feature.
- Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
- Publisher: Thunder Lotus Games
- Release Date: August 2020
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
You play as a ferry master to the dead, the Spiritfarer. With such a setting, the game delivers a heartwarming and wholesome experience. It’s an indie sandbox management sim we recommend.
The titular character is Stella, the latest Spiritfater. Your goal is to take the spirits to the afterlife, but only after granting their final wishes. Yet, you grow closer and closer to the spirits, and taking them to the otherworld is never emotionally easy.
For the task, you transport on a boat. And like other games like Animal Crossing, you can customize the boat, expand your services, and ultimately meet the needs of your passengers.
There’re plenty of activities to keep you busy elsewhere. Aside from caring for the spirits, you can cook, fish, mine, harvest and tend a garden. Moreover, you explore numerous islands on an open-world map to find resources. You also learn skills to open up new areas, find new spirits, and make new friends.
- Developer: Cozy Bee Games
- Publisher: Cozy Bee Games
- Release Date: April 2020
- Platform: Windows
Alchemy Story is an adventure game about growing a garden in a magical land. You can manage a garden, brew potions, care for magical pets, and make NPC friends.
You play as an alchemist apprentice and follow a storyline about helping the village. Dark magic has turned the residents into animals, and you can lift the spell with your potions and knowledge.
The experience happens in a friendly atmosphere, casual gameplay mechanics, and cute visuals. Also, a big focus is brewing potions, which you can sell for money or use to complete quests and side quests. That means there’s a brewing mini-game that would take most of your time within this game.
Lastly, there’re other side activities to complete the game. Aside from tending the garden, you can fish, forage, mine, and bond with the residents. Once you lift the curse, the animals turn into humans, and you can marry, befriend, and marry your favorite NPCs.
- Developer: Limebolt
- Publisher: Limebolt
- Release Date: August 2012
- Platform: iOS, Android
Happy Street is a mobile-only social simulation title. Therefore, it’s an alternative for those looking for a smartphone alternative.
You play as Billy, a small fox who likes to wear goggles on his head. Billy comes down and lands into a mysterious land with a hot air balloon. Here, Pepin, a globe-trotting expert, meets him.
Pepin is the main quest giver. He sets Billy on a quest to build a new home, help develop the town and make new friends. Players can then collect resources in a small open world. Then, you can use these resources to construct buildings and improve the town.
Overall, the game mixes exploration, sandbox building, and free-roam. It’s an open-ended game where you can build all kinds of shops, chat with residents, and complete side objectives.
- Developer: Mojang Studios
- Publisher: Mojang Studios
- Release Date: November 2011
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
On Minecraft, you play as a custom blocky avatar. The avatar enters a nearly endless open world for an open-ended adventure. Well, that sounds similar. See, in this world, you can build anything. Still, building structures requires gathering materials, which requires the proper tools. So, getting through these requisites means handling a comprehensive building and crafting system.
Aside from building, there’s combat and exploration, but it depends on the game mode. The world has evil creatures like skeletons and giant spiders that attack you at night. The maps also have deep caves and portals to explore other worlds to get amazing crafting materials. Naturally, the combat is quite light, easy enough for children to learn.
Last but not least, you can manage a farm with pigs, horses, cows, and plants. And if you want co-op, up to 30 players can join a server (depending on mods and game mode). Alternatively, up to 4 players can play with a split-screen configuration.
Little Dragon Café
- Developer: Aksys Games, Toybox Inc, Picola Inc
- Publisher: Aksys Games
- Release Date: November 2018
- Platform: Windows, Nintendo Switch, PS4
Little Dragon Café is also a relaxing social simulation game. The experience is about raising a dragon while running your coffee shop.
So, it has a deep sense of community, and the story packs plenty of heart and charm. You play as one of the twins (Ren or Rin), who run the shop after their mother falls ill. Additionally, you find a dragon egg you must nurture and raise. Lastly, you must find out what happened to your mother.
All of this happens inside the shop and outside the shop. Behind the counter, it’s a store simulator. Outside the store, you explore an open world with your dragon friend. There, you can gather ingredients for the shop, friend NPCs, and discover recipes.
Overall, it’s a casual game with a fun story, cooking mini-games, and heartwarming characters. I left this title for last, though, as the main gameplay loop is about gathering cooking recipes and then cooking.