I have a confession to make: after 200 hours in-game, I can officially say that I’m addicted to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Unlike my minor addiction to tea and ice cream sandwiches, I’m not embarrassed to say that I am addicted to island life. As a matter of fact, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in the game — despite the fact that I compare my island with every single “island inspo” image I see on Instagram.
Given that most of us can’t go outside during lockdown, Animal Crossing allows me to imagine myself living on my very own island as I befriend (annoy) the inhabitants, fish 1,000 seabass, grow some fruit trees, and water the flowers before accidentally running over them. Apart from this, it allows me to connect with my friends across the globe during a time when few people can fly.
The bad news is, there isn’t really anything comparable to the feeling I get when playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. That said, there are several games on the market that are just as charming. If you don’t own a Nintendo Switch or you simply want a change of scenery, we’ve found some addictive games that are reminiscent of Animal Crossing.
#1 Best Overall – Stardew Valley
- Initial Release Date: February 26, 2016
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, Linux, macOS, Windows, Wii U, Playstation Vita
- Developers: Eric Barone, Sickhead Games
- Genres: Simulation Video Game, Role-Playing Video Game
If you haven’t heard of Stardew Valley, you’ve either been living under a rock or spending far too much time sleeping during quarantine. If the latter, we do not blame you. That said, if you’re into simulation and role-playing games — which you probably are since you’re reading this guide — we cannot recommend Stardew Valley enough.
One of the most impressive things about this game is that — unlike Animal Crossing — Stardew Valley was developed entirely by Eric Baron (ConcernedApe). Much like many of the indie developers who created some of the best indie games on the market, Eric Barone proved that anyone with enough time, dedication and courage can create a fascinating game alone. But he didn’t merely program the game.
Over four years, Eric Barone developed the soundtrack, as well as every single sound effect and piece of art found in the game.
One of the main reasons Barone made Stardew Valley was to fix many of the problems himself and many other players had with the beloved Harvest Moon game’s — a series we’ll get into later. Much like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Stardew Valley feels extremely nostalgic, especially if you grew up playing simulation and role-playing games.
Even if you didn’t, there’s a wonderful feeling you get when playing Stardew Valley that is extremely hard to find in other video games on the market — at least in my experience.
Stardew Valley Story
Much like Animal Crossing, the story of Stardew Valley is simple: After quitting your monotonous job at Joja Corporation, you decide to take a bus and move to the farm you inherited from your grandfather in the region of Stardew Valley. Once you finally settle on your new farm, you come to realise how much of a disaster it really is.
As to be expected, it’s up to you to put things right by clearing up the land, ploughing the soil and planting new seeds to grow some crops.
Stardew Valley Gameplay
The first Animal Crossing-like game on our list is one that provides you with endless opportunities as you explore the breathtaking region of Stardew Valley. Whether you want to spend your time in the game fishing, farming, crafting, mining, fighting some cave monsters, or befriending the citizens, Stardew Valley has you covered.
If you’re not used to playing a game where the possibilities seem endless, it can admittedly feel a little overwhelming in the beginning. That said, once you start completing the numerous quests Stardew Valley has to offer, things will seem a little less intimidating.
One of the very first quests you are given forces you to interact with all of the villagers who live in (or nearby) Pelican Town. You don’t have to do this right away, but we suggest locating and speaking with every one of the 28 residents in the town. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up falling in love with one of them. That’s right, in this game, anything is possible — even same-sex marriage, something we’d like to see included in more video games in the near future.
While it’s fairly simple, improving and maintaining a relationship with the residents is very rewarding. By speaking with them, you get to listen to all of their desires, fantasies and difficulties living in the town. Needless to say, Stardew Valley is full of interesting folks including artists, scientists, and a monster named Krobus who merely wants to sell you his goods. It sounds strange on paper, we know, but once you begin playing this game, everything will start to make sense.
As with Animal Crossing, there are four seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter) in Stardew Valley that keep things interesting. Each season has its own activities with changing weather, different fish and crop times, in addition to some entertaining festivals where the community gathers for special events.
You don’t have to participate in these events, but it’s a great way to win prizes, gain information and buy special items that you won’t find anywhere else in the game. The great thing about seasons is that each one lasts 28 days, allowing you to change up your routine as the years in Stardew Valley pass by.
Final Thoughts on Stardew Valley
It goes without saying that Stardew Valley is a charming role-playing game that is both rewarding and addictive. Best of all, it’s currently available on Steam for €13.99, so you don’t have to have a massive budget to play Stardew Valley. Why not give it a try? Who knows, maybe you’ll become just as addicted to Stardew Valley as some of us here at Game Gavel are.
Yes, we are hooked and no, we are not ashamed to admit it…
Related: 5 Best Games Like Stardew Valley
#2 Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town
- Initial Release Date: April 18, 2003
- Platforms: Game Boy Advance, Wii U
- Developers: Marvelous Entertainment Inc., Natsume Inc.
- Publishers: Natsume, Marvelous Inc., Marvelous Entertainment Inc., Natsume Inc., Nintendo Australia
- Genres: Simulation Video Game, Role-Playing Video Game
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is a well-known, Animal Crossing-like game available for Game Boy Advance and Wii U. If you don’t happen to own any of these systems, you’ll be delighted to know that Friends of Mineral is coming to the Nintendo Switch next month as Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town.
As someone who’s completely obsessed with the Switch, I was thrilled to discover that a classic Story of Seasons game was heading straight to one of my favourite hand-held gaming systems.
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town Story
While the story of Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town sounds very similar to Stardew Valley, both are very unique in their own way. In Friends of Mineral Town, the very first thing the player sees is a youthful boy in a city. To escape the hectic city life for a while, his parents take him to see the country, but things don’t go as planned. In the course of their trip to the countryside, the boy separates from his parents and finds himself on a farm run by an old man in Mineral Town.
Naturally, the elderly man who owns the farm gets in touch with the boy’s parents who agree that he should stay with the man for several days. That doesn’t sound strange at all…When the boy finally leaves Mineral Town, he remains in contact with the old man until he suddenly stopped responding. Upon returning to the farm, he notices that it has been neglected. He later discovers that the old man passed away a few months back. Much to his surprise, the boy learns that the man generously left him the farm in his will. This is where your journey begins.
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town Gameplay
Your main goal in Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is to restore the farm to its original state by raising livestock and growing crops. At the beginning of the game, you should aim to earn money by cleaning up the fields, planting seeds for crops, foraging and mining. In the game, the fruit and vegetables you grow are your main source of revenue, so you should immediately focus on growing some nutritious food. That being said, turning seeds into harvestable crops isn’t an easy task.
You’ll have to clear stones using an axe and a hammer, remove sticks with your hands, prepare the land with your hoe, and water the seeds with your handy watering can. When your seeds have finally grown into edible fruit and vegetables, you can harvest them using a simple press of a button.
On the other hand, you’ll have to use your fifth tool, a sickle, to cut the grass. This process is similar to how you’d prepare the land in Animal Crossing using an axe and a shovel, only you don’t have to worry about crops in AC. Over time, you will eventually obtain some new tools that you can use in the game, such as a fishing pole to fish.
Once you start making money, you’ll have to carefully invest in livestock and other items that you can use to improve the farm. At first, Friends of Mineral Town may feel fairly slow, but once you start learning the basics, you’ll come to realise that it’s one of the most pleasant simulation games on the market. As to be expected, farming isn’t all you’ll be doing in Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town.
During your time on the farm, you will have to communicate with the citizens of Mineral Town as you buy goods from them, participate in gatherings, and build relationships with all of the women. You can even ask one of them to marry you if you feel like putting a ring on it.
Final Thoughts on Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town
If you’ve ever played Animal Crossing: New Horizons — or any AC game for that matter — you’ll know that at first, things can feel extremely slow. This is the same for Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town until you finally learn the ropes and uncover what the game really has to offer.
As a whole, Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is a fantastic Animal Crossing- like game that’ll keep you entertained for hours on end.
#3 My Time at Portia
- Initial Release Date: January 23, 2018
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, MacOS, Windows
- Developer: Pathea
- Genres: Open world, Action role-playing game, Simulation Video Game
The third game AC-like game on our list is one that is loved by many Animal Crossing players across the globe. This has to do with the fact that My Time at Portia is an incredible open-world simulation game that allows you to escape reality during a time when many people can’t go outside. While many users have complained about how “slow” the game is, those who enjoy playing Animal Crossing will certainly enjoy the grind.
At least, we definitely do.
My Time at Portia Story
Set in the post-apocalyptic world of Portia, My Time at Portia is a game that sees you taking on the role of a workshop builder who must use relics scattered throughout the world to build items. Your main aim in the game is to essentially expand the workshop that you inherited from your father (what a surprise) and complete commissions given to you by the people of Portia. After that, your mission is to expand Portia and become the next best builder. If you don’t wish to spend your time in the workshop, you are also able to travel across the world and visit rejected ruins, collect materials for commissions and fight some monsters.
My Time at Portia Gameplay
If you’ve played Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon, the premise of My Time at Portia will feel very familiar to you. When you first start the game, you will be tasked with going through some commissions given to you by the charming citizens of Portia. You will also be given some story-heavy quests that are simply too adorable. By helping the lovable citizens of Portia with their everyday difficulties, your workshop will inevitably rank higher in the local ranks — this is your main aim in the game. The thing is, without the necessary resources, you won’t be able to complete the commissions you are given.
How you choose to gather the resources required to complete tasks is completely up to you. If you want to take the easy way out, you can simply purchase resources at the shop. If you fancy a challenge, feel free to go out and fight for them in some creepy looking dungeons. You may even find some rare resources if you’re lucky. If you want to take a break from building and gathering resources, you can participate in some unique events and activities such as cooking, taming wild llamas and cooking up some grub.
When you’re not trying to capture wild llamas, you can relax by playing some of the minigames in My Time at Portia. These were added to keep things fresh and entertaining, and honestly, it works. If you’re intimidated by the range of minigames My Time at Portia has to offer, you’ll be glad to know that many of the games feature a useful tutorial to help you learn the basics. If you don’t fancy playing minigames, you can spend your time befriending the locals by chatting to them, giving them gifts or playing a quick game of rock, paper, scissors. If you’re smooth enough, you may even end up marrying one of them.
Final Thoughts on My Time at Portia
If you enjoy playing AC-like games, ignore everyone who says that My time at Portia is “too slow” and “is comparable with an idle game”. Players who have followed the Animal Crossing series are used to the slow grind. As a matter of fact, most of us enjoy waiting in real time for things to occur in the game. Which is exactly why you shouldn’t expect everything to be fast-paced in My Time at Portia.
With all of that being said, on the whole, My Time at Portia is an excellent simulation game with plenty to unlock, achieve and discover.
#4 Garden Paws
- Initial Release Date: Dec 18, 2018
- Platforms: MacOS, Windows
- Developer: Bitten Toast Games Inc.
- Genre: Role-Playing Game
The last game on our list similar to Animal Crossing is Garden Paws: an extremely addictive indie farming sim for PC that’ll have you glued to your screen for hours on end. Available on Steam for €16.79, Garden Paws has received nothing but positive feedback since its release in 2018.
And after reviewing the game, we have finally come to understand why it has been so highly praised.
Garden Paws Story
At this point, the story of Garden Paws may seem predictable, yet it’s still a fun role-playing game that you don’t want to miss. As with My Time at Portia, you inherit a farm from your grandparents who have recently jetted off to travel the world. At the very beginning of the game, you meet with an adorable Koala bear named Frank. After speaking with them, he helps you settle on the picturesque island by helping you with your shop. Frank is a very useful character in Garden Paws as he offers a range of Town Upgraders to you and the other residents of Florens. This is all done through the handy Upgrade Table found at Frank’s house.
Garden Paws Gameplay
As we have mentioned above, the story of Garden Paws is simple: you have inherited a farm from your grandparents who have gone to travel around the world. As the new owner of the farm, it is your job to finish off and upgrade your brand-new home. Of course, you don’t have to do this alone. Throughout the game, you will have to assist Frank the koala and Mayor Wilson the raccoon to upgrade the town.
But it isn’t that simple. If you want to expand your home and the town of Florens, you must acquire coins. How will you earn them, you may ask? By running your very own store. As to be expected, you’ll have to fill the shop with goods before you can start making money.
To do this, you must explore the land and pick up anything from flowers and poop to sell to the locals. Now, you can laugh all you want, but poop is actually a very useful fertilizer used to get more seeds. Once you acquire some seeds, you can finally begin farming, questing, crafting, mining, and fishing. As you start to earn money, you can speak with Frank about opening some new buildings so that you can unlock new areas and quests in the game. Every single area in the Garden Paws has some brand new items that you can gather, sell and even use to dress up your character.
If you want to get your hands dirty, you can head into some dark dungeons and battle some creepy-looking monsters and, if you’re brave enough, a boss. The possibilities really are endless. Much like the other Animal Crossing-like games on our list, when it comes to gameplay, Garden Paws seems limitless. At this moment in time, the game is hundreds of hours long. And according to the creators, they’re still not done with the game yet.
Final Thoughts on Garden Paws
With all of that being said, you can probably understand why Garden Paws has been highly praised over the years. It is an addictive farming sim with a wide range of unique and charming characters, areas and quests.
If you don’t wish to play alone, there’s even an online multiplayer that allows you to invite up to three people. After all, if you can’t go outside in the real world with your friends, why not explore a virtual world with them?
In reality, there aren’t many games like Animal Crossing, especially not the latest installment in the series. Be that as it may, there are several addictive role-playing and simulation games that give off a similar vibe to the beloved Animal Crossing franchise. While we have only included 4 games to our list, every single one of them is appealing and offers seemingly limitless opportunities owing to the amount of content available in-game.
What’s your favourite Animal Crossing-like game? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!
At this moment in time, we’re all sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for one Animal Crossing-like game to land on the shelves. Although it hasn’t yet been released, many of us plan on playing this particular game for hours on end as we have done with some of the games on this very list. What game am I talking about? Ooblets. If you’ve never heard of it, where have you been?