Since Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched to critical acclaim and record-breaking sales in 2020, many game creators and dedicated players alike have begun to seek out ways to emulate many of the game’s addictive elements in other titles.
Thankfully, there is an abundance of games that can satisfy the needs of a loyal Animal Crossing player while exposing audiences to new themes, gameplay styles, and opportunities.
New, upcoming games, including those mentioned in Nintendo’s recent E3 Direct, are great options, but many other choices are already available on a variety of platforms. Let’s take a look at some of the best candidates out there that can scratch the so-called “Animal Crossing itch.”
For many gamers, finding titles that are both fun and stimulating can be a critical part of self-expression and, by extension, mental health. For more information regarding mental health care, the importance of managing mental health, and other resources, be sure to check out the information over at BetterHelp.
Available on: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One (Xbox Game Pass), Playstation 4, PC
Price: $30 USD
Spiritfarer challenges players to take on a unique and important role: a caregiver for the recently deceased.
The game tasks you with helping spirits by building them homes on your customizable ship, cooking their favorite food, listening to their stories about their lives, and more.
Much like spending time in Animal Crossing gathering resources for your island, players have the opportunity to explore various islands, find supplies to build up a boat, and make passengers comfortable before they move on to the afterlife.
Players can also perform other relaxing activities, such as watering plants, or discover new abilities that let you explore even more of the game’s world.
Coupled with the game’s careful depiction of themes of death, moving on, and finding meaning in one’s life, Spiritfarer can not only capture Animal Crossing’s addicting gameplay hook, but also enrapture you in a story that sets it apart from the competition.
My Time at Portia
Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One (Game Pass)
Price: $30 USD
If you enjoyed building up your island in Animal Crossing, then you may enjoy My Time at Portia.
The game’s primary goal of building up the town of Portia – by collecting resources from dungeons, completing various town assignments, and interacting with Portia’s residents – can be very satisfying and enjoyable to play through.
Players can enjoy the chance to express themselves freely without constraint, too – for instance, players can marry anyone they’d like in-game, including same-sex options.
My Time at Portia is also distinct from Animal Crossing thanks to its role-playing game elements and dungeon crawling aspects.
Players can use skill points to level up a character’s specific traits and use these leveled-up characters to battle monsters, explore dungeons, and discover new areas to explore. The game is perfect for those that want an Animal Crossing experience that melds combat into its core game design.
Platforms: PC, Mac, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Apple Arcade
Price: $15 USD
Cozy Grove takes the resource management gameplay abundant in games such as My Time at Portia, combines it with engaging writing, and ties these elements together with Animal Crossing’s slower pace to provide a calming and relaxing experience.
The game runs in real-time and is optimized for short play sessions. Your goal is to help the spirits of Cozy Grove by running various errands, making friends, tending to animals along with completing daily objectives.
The game promises a 40-hour campaign, however, many of its goals are relegated to each real-time day.
That means players only get a few goals each day they turn the game on. This set-up allows players to stick to a more leisurely playing style and enjoy the game’s colorful world and interesting story for months on end.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One
Price: $20 USD
If you want to play a game with a heartfelt story, creative gameplay twist, and decorate the world to your heart’s content, then Chicory: A Colorful Tale should absolutely be on your radar.
After the world mysteriously loses all of its colors, you play as the next Wielder of the Brush, an individual with the ability to color in the world with a magical brush. Throughout the game, you find different brush styles to express your artistry in various ways.
As players explore the world and discover why the world lost all of its colors, they can help the game’s inhabitants by making designs for them, finding lost kittens and returning them for decor items, retrieving litter, and opening up gifts spread throughout the world.
The game’s relaxing pace and soothing music mimic Animal Crossing’s peaceful atmosphere while its heartwarming and honest story harkens back to Spiritfarer’s and Cozy Grove’s appealing narratives.
But, with the power of the magical brush, the game stands on its own by encouraging you to express yourself in whatever way you want.
Even More Games on the Horizon
There are even more titles out there that can capture the spirit of Animal Crossing, all radically different from one another.
New games come out on a regular basis for the Nintendo Switch and other consoles, so it’s easier and easier every day to find new, exciting options to try out. Even playing some of the games mentioned in this list may lead you to more discoveries.
So, take your time – try new games, of course, but most of all, remember to have fun with it!