Best Simulation Games on Switch

Back in 2016, I played Animal Crossing: Wild World for 1,5 hours every day, visiting the neighbours and watering the plants. After that, I was ready for something new in the same vein, but I had the hardest time finding a good replacement. Fast forward some fifteen years and the simulation game scene has changed. There are so many good games out there, for a big part, thanks to indie developers and Kickstarter campaigns.

I’m always partial to playing on a handheld, so this list is for the Best Simulation games on the Nintendo Switch. But they are available on Steam and most other consoles, too! These games have a lovely combination of exploring, crafting, fighting, farming, socializing, fishing, and mining…really too much to do! But they don’t have farming as the main bases, like games like Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley and Story of Seasons have. If you want to get stuck in the muck and mainly grow crops, don’t forget to check out our list of the Best Farming Games on Switch.

And if you can do without the fighting and you just want to relax, be sure to check out our list of the Best Wholesome Games on Switch!

A link to the physical game, if available, is added for every game. Of course, all of them can be bought in the eShop in digital form as well. And do you like our work? Consider joining us as a Patron!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing New Horizons bridge

Let’s be clear: there is no game more entertaining, creative, social and just plain cute and sweet than Animal Crossing (can you tell I’m a fan?). So New Horizons is a sure choice if you want to go for many hours of gameplay. Retreat to an undiscovered island and live with the animals that all have quirky and special personalities. Decorate your house, catch bugs and fish. Dig for fossils and be creative when it comes to making patterns on the clothes your character wears or how you want to decorate your house.

There are no goals; play as you see fit and take your sweet time. Nintendo will keep you entertained by introducing events and festivals, like searching for eggs when Easter approaches and many more.

Our review of the game is here! But we do have guides up for the game, and I wanted to share my feelings about Animal Crossing with you too! Find that article here:
Proud to be an Animal Crossing Gamer

Summer in Mara

Qälis Summer in Mara LadiesGamers.com

Summer in Mara: a Kickstarter project by Spanish studio Chibig, is a simulation adventure of the kind that the Switch still needs more entries of in its library. The game is based on quests: Koa helps out people on the islands and gets things in return. That’s the way to progress the story, and it’s also the way to make your Home Island more efficient, combining farming, taking care of animals and crafting along with a colourful cast of characters.

When you debate whether or not Summer in Mara is for you, you must keep this in mind: you don’t play the game to go from A to B. You don’t play it just to do all the quests and live the adventure. No, you do the quests to make the Home Island of Koa more beautiful, more bountiful and a real home. And meanwhile, you discover new islands, learn the story of new people and live through new adventures.

My review of Summer in Mara is here. Plus, we have a set of guides to help you along, too.

Little Dragons Cafe

Little dragon's cafe Dragon nest

The story begins with a twin brother and sister learning to cook and manage a small café under their mother’s tutelage. All was peaceful and routine until one morning when the twins discover that their mother has fallen into a deep sleep and won’t wake up. Suddenly, a strange old man informs them that they must raise a dragon to save her life. Working together with three quirky café employees, the two siblings must figure out how to wrangle a dragon and manage the family business while finding a way to save their mother.

Little Dragons Café can’t be compared to Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, Yonder or any of the fan favourites. You can’t farm, you can’t design patterns or even decorate a house. There is no dating and no marriage either. But then, that’s not what the developers were going for. There is a strong emphasis on exploration like in Yonder, but there’s a clear goal, too: to find out each character’s personal story and help him or her reach their goals.

Our review for the game is here: Little Dragons Cafe 

Graveyard Keeper

Graveyard Keeper LadiesGamers

A game that is very similar to Stardew Valley, but this time, you are not managing a farm and livestock. Instead, you are managing the deceased and all kinds of other dark aspects of life. The game does so with a lot of humour that makes you quite forget what you are dealing with. 

It has an interesting storyline, many side quests, and an intricate logistic system to craft things…If you can get your head around the cutting up and burying of the dead, make no bones about it. Graveyard Keeper is a great addition to the Nintendo Switch, and it seems the life of an undertaker can certainly keep a player busy for hours with a wide array of gameplay activities. 

Our review is here: Graveyard Keeper Review Switch, and we’ve got a guide up as well: Beginners Guide to Graveyard Keeper (Switch)

Cattails, the 1st Game and the Sequel, Wildwood Story

Protagonist stands in a den, which has a fungal laboratory vibe, holding raspberries, with the option to scroll to other items or to interact with the raspberries.

Pikodoodle wrote in her review of Cattails: “I’m impressed with the ways Cattails is different from farming RPGs: a fun hunting mechanic, colony relationships, and meaningful interaction with children. Cattails is a smaller, less diverse game than Stardew Valley but well-executed. While there’s no farming, it’s no loss. The substitute for farming, hunting is more enjoyable and provides instant gratification once you’ve levelled up enough.”

And more recently, Valerie reviewed the sequel, Cattails: Wildwood Story. She wrote in her conclusion: “Cattails: Wildwood Story is one of the greatest community sims I’ve ever seen. If you come at it hoping for farming, you won’t find much there but a small plot of land for reproducing plants you find in the wild. Other than that expectation, I can’t think of a reason to be disappointed with this experience. There’s so much to do, various difficulty settings, huge collections to complete, and several strategies for advancing. Cattails: Wildwood Story has been crafted with lots of care. Fight and forage your way to a purr-fect village!”

Our review for the game is here: Cattails review for Switch

My Time at Portia and My Time at Sandrock

Both My Time at Portia and the recently released My Time at Sandrock take place in a post-apocalyptic world 300 years after the Day of Calamity that destroyed most modern technologies. Both cities are members of the Alliance of Free Cities.

In My Time at Portia, you inherit a workshop at the start of the game, and by collecting resources and completing commissions for the townspeople, you try to grow your workshop. It’s your home, too, and can be upgraded into a bigger house, adding more rooms to hold all the furniture you manage to collect.

MTS LadiesGamers

In My Time at Sandrock, you arrive in town by train after accepting a job offer to be Sandrock’s newest builder and rebuild the community and town to its former glory. Your workshop is handed down to you from Mason, the town’s previous builder, who is retiring.

Both games have the same theme: to craft, grow, mine and forage while exploring to help the people in town and grow the workshop. The resources are different, though. In Portia, you just chopped a tree, as there were plenty of them, as it is set in a greener environment. However, in Sandrock, there aren’t as many trees, and what there are, you can’t cut since the town is threatened by desertification. So, instead, there are all kinds of piles of debris lying around. You’ll be scratching around in piles of scrap and rubbish on the ground that you can scavenge for materials and parts by hand. Cleaning up trash in town can also give you scraps, some of which can be helpful. All of this can be recycled in your crafting station.

All the important elements are in these simulation games, with a huge world to explore and many, many hours of gameplay. You can find our review of My Time at Portia here and our guide on the game here. 

Our review for My Time at Sandrock is here, and the guide is here.

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Gathering sprites isn’t all you have to do. This game simply is heaven for gamers who love side-questing. Every area you find on Gemea has several side quests to fulfil.

Yonder is the kind of casual game the Switch could use more of in its library. In this game, there are no enemies or monsters to fight. There is some farming and tending to animals, but not in the hands-on way of Harvest Moon games. The game is about exploring, farming for materials, fishing and crafting and mostly about collecting. Just for the fun of it, and to help the fellow inhabitants of this beautiful land. Even though there are main quests to further the story of activating the Cloud Catcher and ridding Gemea of the murk, the storyline isn’t what it’s about.

Our review for the game is here: Yonder the Cloud Catcher Chronicle 

Ooblets

Ooblets LadiesGamers

Let’s move to mainland Oob to Badgetown and start our life alongside Ooblets. Alongside an uplifting beat and a population where everyone tends to go about their daily business while dancing, you will find all the elements we need in a simulation game. You collect Ooblets through card-based dance battles, where you are rewarded with seeds to grow your own Ooblets.

There’s farming and taking care of the farmhouse. You sow other crops as well aside from Ooblets, plus you can set your Ooblets to work. And then there’s crafting, using materials from crops and stuff you forage in recipes and blueprints. Lastly, this all leads to developing the Badgetown through quests. But it isn’t limited to Badgetown, as soon you will hop on an air balloon to develop other areas and find new Ooblets. Because, as the title suggests, it all comes down to the Ooblets in the end!

Our review for Ooblets is here, and a guide to get you started is here.

Disney Dreamlight Valley

Disney Dreamlight Valley Mirabel

This list would not be complete without Disney Dreamlight Valley. This is a must for any Disney fan, and if you’re into simulation games, this is one for you, too. It’s been on the market in early access for over a year now, and by now, the bugs have been ironed out. The definitive version in several collection packages are available. Other than the other games I mentioned, Disney Dreamlight Valley has micro-transactions going too. Either with in-game currency, you collect by playing a lot or by real money.

Discover the Secrets of Dreamlight Valley – Free the Dream Castle from the insidious grip of the Forgetting, and unlock the unique Realms of well-loved Disney and Pixar characters. Each Realm has its own challenges, with puzzles to solve and friends to bring back to Dreamlight Valley. A lot of the sim elements I love are present: farming crops, fishing, cooking, and crafting. You can get creative with your clothes, house and the outdoors as well. There’s a prominent storyline and goals to be met. Not timed, but when you see, for example, that the Pillar of Friendship needs to be freed from the sickening thorns of the Forgetting, you can’t help but strive for that. This means there’s a constant stream of tasks and quests. Most importantly, you are surrounded by your favourite Disney characters who you can interact with.

Gameloft makes sure the fans of this game are kept interested by constantly bringing new free expansions and paid DLC as well. Best make sure you’ve got enough free time on your hands!

Hokko Life

Hokko Life Guide
An amazing Japanese teahouse that L9SK-5J3S made

Hokko Life doesn’t deny where it found its origins, mainly in being inspired by Animal Crossing. It has the same laid-back atmosphere, and you find yourself surrounded by animal neighbours too. You can decorate your home, fish, mine, catch bugs, and also do some farming. A big part is designing, and the design system is very deep. Being a small development studio, Wonderscope clearly shows this for the passion project it is, and one that the fans of the genre will love.

The game is slow in getting underway, but once Hokko Life gets underway, there’s more to do, and there are some things in Hokko Life that go quite a bit deeper than you would expect. Custom designing is really hands-on, and I saw projects up on Steam that really inspired me. It’s fun to see how they re-invented bits of the well-known gameplay, and I think this could be a real-time sink! Want to know more? Here’s my review and we have a starter guide as well.

Spiritfarer

Spiritfarer LadiesGamers

You play as Stella, a young woman who is tasked with taking over the role of Charon as a Ferrier and guide to departed souls.  Charon passes the Everlight to Stella and tells her… ”It will be the light that shines in the darkness, the last remaining hope of the departed”. In other words, it’s a magical symbol of status and the only tool Stella will need. The Everlight has the ability to transform into any number of tools and is used to power Stella’s boat.

Stella and her cat, Daffodil, sail the seas on a hand-me-down boat, picking up lost spirits in the shape of anthropomorphic animals. Along the way, you’ll progress each spirit’s strand of quests. They’ll open up to you about their life, their worries, their regrets and find peace. And eventually, you will see them off on their final journey through the Everdoor.

This might sound a tad heavy, but Spiritfarer is a positive look at death as all the characters make peace with both their life and death in their own time. The characters are charming; all have depth with stories to tell. It includes a form of farming on the boat, but it’s mainly about solving quests for the spirits. Spiritfarer is hopeful, comforting, and positive and certainly big on delivering the ”feels”! Want to know more? Here is our review.

Littlewood

The world has already been saved. You defeated the Dark Wizard. The world of Solemn is finally at peace, but at what cost? You can’t quite remember…Now it’s time to rebuild your town, master new hobbies, and forge lifelong friendships in this peaceful and relaxing RPG.

Think of the farming aspect of Stardew Valley and the customising of Animal Crossing, with a sprinkling of Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons. Put them together, and you get Littlewood, only on a smaller scale. It’s pretty clear while playing Littlewood that the creator, Sean Young, drew a lot of inspiration from titles like those, but definitely put his own unique spin on things.

While exploration is key, you can also customize your town by starting with new hobbies like gathering, mining and woodcutting. Fish, catch bugs and do quests for the people you meet. They might want to live in Littlewood!

Littlewood is a chilled-out game, with positive vibes and a heart-warming story, you can read more in our review here. And we also have a guide up!

Cat Cafe Manager

 

Cat Cafe Manager LadiesGamers

Granny’s Cafe isnt an ordinary cafe as Caterwaul Way is a town full of stray cats that Granny looks after in her Cafe. You’ll have your hands full with running the Cafe and taking care of the needs of the cats and customers. However, all is not as it seems in Caterwaul Way; the shadow of a dark presence lurks in Caterwaul Way, the Grimalkin who has a tale to tell and warns you of some real catty mysteries happening in the town. Meow!

Cat Cafe Managers’ gameplay centres around designing and building the Cafe, managing the Cafe and staff, taking orders from customers, and most importantly, adopting stray cats.

Cat Cafe Manager has good variety in the gameplay that centres around designing and building the Café. The customers that visit the Cafe are a mixture of would-be artists, people who fish, witches and vagabonds, to name a few. With each day in the Cafe, there is always something that needs to be taken care of. Adopting the cats and making sure all the customers leave happy is quite an addicting gameplay loop. Even early on, it’s a cycle that feels like it is constantly feeding into itself and growing. If you do the task, you get resources that make you better at doing your job. For example, your Cafe can become fancier or offer more variety in food.

It’s a relaxing business sim with no pressure to hurry you along, and who could resist all the cute cats while you find them forever homes where they can live happily? You can find our review here, and we have a guide for Cat Cafe Manager here.

So that was our list. Find something you like and enjoy!

 

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