Updated with recent releases. Enjoy!
If you're looking for a change of pace and some welcome distraction from your everyday life, few mediums offer such engrossing, ongoing escapism as video games. Even the best books have an ending, but some games can go on almost indefinitely and come to form a calming part of our daily routines.
If you're looking for just such a game, the list below of the best life sims and farming games on Switch should get you on the right track.
Whether you've always dreamed of moving to the countryside, retiring to a deserted island, or simply heading to the watering hole for a spot of fishing, the games below will set you up with a new (digital) life and keep you busy with pleasant little tasks to melt away the stress of real life... or at least replace it with the low-stakes stress of sowing turnips, tending to animals and managing your crops. Just remember when you're stressing about squeezing these digital lives into your packed schedule, it's all for fun!
So, grab your spade and a handful of seeds, and let's take a look — in no particular order — at the cream of the crop; the best life and farming sims on Switch.
We put Animal Crossing: New Horizons on this list back in 2020 — long before the farming mechanic was added in late 2021 as part of the massive update. ACNH is a fantastic life sim as it is, with plenty of bug catching, fishing, and friend-making to keep you busy when you're not trying to pay off your mortgage, but now that you can actually grow crops and cook food, it's an even heartier recommendation from us.
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Adding some traditional RPG elements into its Harvest Moon-style farm sim gameplay, Rune Factory 4 Special adds dungeons into the mix of farming, fishing, cooking, and romance and serves up a tasty concoction in the process. One of the game's greatest triumphs is how it melds all those gameplay elements into a thoroughly satisfying whole. If you played it on 3DS, there's not enough here to warrant double dipping, but if you're after a modern classic with equally satisfying farming and combat that lets you decide your own pace, Rune Factory 4 delivers on all fronts.
Rune Factory 5 is available too (and you'll find it further down on this list), but we still think Rune Factory 4 is the better offering.
A 3D remake of GBA's Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, Marvelous' Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town offers up the celebrated original in sparkling form. The underlying game might be getting on a bit (it released back in 2003) but it's still a fine take on the farm sim genre — simple, straightforward, and satisfying. Keeping your farm running smoothly day-to-day and pursuing romance are all part of the game and if you're after a classic Harvest Moon game without the complexities and complications of later entries, Friends of Mineral Town provides just that.
Throwing mining, monster-slaying and scavenging into the sim-style mix, Forager has you building an island community, expanding out and defending your land from nasties. This game is a life sim game for those who find Stardew Valley a bit too slow for their tastes. A few clumsy design choices are overcome with a sizeable dose of charm, so if you're looking for a not-that-slow life, Forager might be just the ticket.
My Time At Portia has crafting at its heart, and its timers and missions can be tough to grasp at first. Give it time, though, and it may very well become one of your most-played Switch games. Set in the titular post-apocalyptic town, it's your job to bring Portia back from the brink by completing missions and crafting your way back to prominence. Your relationships with the townspeople grow along with your crops and — provided you can get over that initial crafting hump — there's a good chance you won't be able to tear yourself away.
For people who loved the collect-craft-combat loop of Fantasy Life, this game might scratch that same itch, and it'll certainly take up a fair few hours – even if the "combat" part is missing. Littlewood is an incredibly impressive game for a solo developer, and though none of its ideas go particularly deep, it more than makes up for it in breadth. Fans of the life sim genre should definitely seek this one out.
Doraemon: Story of Seasons' painterly visual style is one of the loveliest on Switch. This crossover is one of the slowest games on the list — perfect if you're looking to chill those beans right down. The fact that it offers a solid, relaxing romp and fabulous farming featuring everyone's favourite robotic blue cat from the future is almost incidental because... We. Can't. Stop. Looking. At. It!
And if you can't get enough, there's always the sequel, Doraemon: Story of Seasons - Friends of the Great Kingdom, which essentially offers more of the same lovely-looking farm sim fun with everyone's favourite blue space cat.
If Stardew Valley was less about turnips and more about receiving corpses via the deliveries of a communist donkey, then removing the skin, organs, and blood of said corpse in order to make paper, fertiliser, and and stamina potions, then burying the body in your own personal graveyard... Well, then you'd have Graveyard Keeper. Surprisingly dense and more suited to long playthroughs than short 15-minute bursts, this graveyard-management game has plenty for you to do — as long as you're not squeamish.