1. My Time at Portia
My Time at Portia was developed by the indie game company Pathea, and it is a truly incredible video game that has caught on with major streamers and players.
In My Time at Portia, you find the long-deserted workshop of your estranged father, who leaves it to you with the encouragement to make an incredible life for yourself among the good people there.
Portia is workshop based, meaning you can make basic tools as well as build furnaces, planter boxes for farming, advanced furnaces, smelters, workshops, work benches, and more.
As you discover more blueprints, build friendships, and buy more land to expand your workshop and your properties, you not only build an incredible space but also help to transform a town and surrounding area that is easy to fall in love with.
This is a game that is easy to sink hundreds of hours into. It encourages exploration and packs every bit of the living world with adventure, beauty, and an outstanding gaming experience.
This is one of my favorite games, and if you like Stardew Valley, you will almost certainly fall in love with Portia.
2. Graveyard Keeper
This game might not be right for everyone, but for those of us who appreciate dark humor, Graveyard Keeper is great. You wake up after an accident as the new graveyard keeper of a very strange village that is happy to see you.
You find that there are many problems that need solving as you navigate magical figures, a sassy talking skull, problematic villagers, and the need to develop your rundown property into a medieval industrial powerhouse.
The Seven Deadly Sins
Many characters embody one of the seven deadly sins...and it turns out that you do, too. Bury bodies from The Town, make the rundown cemetery look beautiful, re-open the church, help out the townspeople, and enjoy weird, quirky, and dark humor as you find your place in this town while working to make it home again.
Graveyard Keeper's unique graphics, stunningly beautiful soundtrack, and excellent story keeps players coming back.
- Get those blue points early.
- Buy all the DLCs - the base game is great alone but these all heavily enhance gameplay, story, and quality of life.
- Get the church running ASAP for money that you can use to buy blue point books from the Astrologer at the lighthouse.
Kynseed is a game that does stunning things with pixel art graphics that is stunningly beautiful and truly unique. You won't see another game that looks like this, and it blends classic fairy tales with magic, folk lore, and the free choice to create your own unique story with each and every playthrough.
This is a game developed by a small UK indie team, many of whom were involved in the famous Fable series. That love for the mystical, for building beautiful memorable worlds, and for creating an RPG different from those before it shines through.
Be good or be bad. Explore or settle down. All your decisions affect how the game progresses as you live, work, age, and eventually die leaving your descendants to take over.
This is a game that looks at the actions of a player building multiple generations and shows those around the player age, die, have children who grow, and watch the world continue to change, adding to the beauty of the graphics and a story that actually matters.
Kynseed is an incredible game that still continues to receive updates and developments as more content is added, more story, and even more to explore in a world that already feels so vibrant and alive.
Like retro pixel games? Putting a new twist on the old "Hero saves the world" trope, you wake up with amnesia after the epic final battle that saved the world...but left it a mess, too.
With old friends happy to find you alive even with your amnesia they help teach you the basics of building a house, paths, fields, fences, and other structures so you can start building the town of Littlewood (or whatever you rename it).
The farming and ranching is pretty simple, maybe overly so if that's what you really enjoy, but the town building mechanics are exceptional. Add in an experience system for social, building up the town, bug catching, cooking, gathering, and more and you still get a unique true pixel art experience.
This game looks retro, is very enjoyable, and flirts with some new mechanics that are truly wonderful. If you love SV and other sim-life games, Littlewood is going to be a fine investment of many hours of your recreational time.
5. Len's Island
Len's Island managed to fly under the radar for a long time while in development, but this adventure game meets exploration/survival meets farm-life sim RPG has caught fire with early release, and it's not hard to see why.
Len's is an open world survival game that leans heavily on farming like Stardew Valley and building and improving like My Time at Portia.
There are challenging combat areas, multiple islands to unlock, and a lot of content already for a game that is very early on in early access.
Len's Island not only has a lot to offer early on, but it is a game that looks like it is going to continue to expand into more and even better content in the future.
6. Coral Island
Coral Island was funded via Kick Starter and instantly garnered enormous attention for putting a very different spin that enhanced the traditional parts of Stardew Valley and SV clones that gamers loved while also adding something unique.
Introduce a tropical island, new exotic crops, mermaids, and an underwater world along with NPCs who interact with each other, do their own thing, and give the feeling of a truly living and unique world, and it's not hard to see why this game gained so much attention.
Coral Island brings the best of the farm-sim games to a tropical location, adding more design elements, a different spin on the surrounding biomes, and the setup of NPCs having their own schedules, lives, and interactions is sure to make the world feel alive.
This is a game that is on a stunning number of Steam Wishlists and already has several great YouTube channels focused on the development of what is sure to be a big name in this genre upon full release.
7. No Place Like Home
The world was a complete dump...so everyone moved to Mars.
You come back armed with a vacuum pack to find a very few people still around as you clean up, recycle, break down mountains of garbage, and fight angry robots.
As you clean up your tree house and the property from your youth you build crops, find some wild animals to domesticate, build recyclers to turn garbage into useful materials, and more.
This game takes a very different take on mechanics than others in the genre. The backpack sucks up trash, separates it to useful components, waters plants, drills through obstacles, and attacks enemies.
Stupid aggressive robots.
This is one of those games where the work doesn't feel like a grind, it is gratifying.
The developers hit that perfect note where it feels gratifying to clean, organize, and build to clean, create, and explore.
8. Spirit of the Island
Kickstarter-backed Spirit of the Island is an interesting cross between Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon. The early release has been enormously fun to play, brings some interesting mechanics to the table, and takes a very cutesy style and adds legitimately challenging combat and crafting.
Farming is simple in this game and you can see elements of games like Stardew Valley, games like Animal Crossing, and games like Portia. Sometimes this combination works out in beautiful surprising ways, other times it falls a little short.
Overall the experience is great and I've enjoyed this game immensely. This is a bit more aimed towards the Animal Crossing and Hokko's Life crowd as opposed to games like Graveyard Keeper or My Time at Portia, but even though I consider myself more in this second group I enjoyed my time on Spirit of the Island thoroughly.
9. Hokko Life
Hokko Life is a game that definitely goes heavier on the laidback low-key Animal Crossing side of the farm-life-sim side of games and offers cute graphics, some fun interactions, and a good laid back vibe for fans of these types of games who aren't looking for
Lady Shelab did a great let's-play of Hokko Life and gives a very good look at all this game has to offer.
Pitching itself as a very cosy sim-life game, Hokko Life is relatively early in its development but already offers cute characters, an interesting setting, and the type of "I want to relax not stress" gameplay that many people who enjoy the life-sim games will appreciate.
This is far more in the Animal Crossing group as opposed to Stardew Valley but it's a game that will find a lot of fans with both groups.
10. Gleaner Heights
Imagine a very dark, very intense, SNES version of Stardew Valley meets Twin Peaks and you find yourself in the world of Gleaner Heights. This is a game that takes that very different feeling of mystery, the darkness that can hide in plain sight in small towns, and brings forward a strange mystery.
If the Stardew Valley storyline of Shane or Kent makes you really uncomfortable, then this definitely is not the game for you.
If you are firmly in the Graveyard Keeper side of things with very dark humor, then Gleaner Heights provides an experience. The controls are a bit clunky at first and it takes some time to figure out but once you do, the storyline is amazing.
Gleaner Heights is a polarizing game. Some love it, some hate it, but it is undeniably one of the more interesting farm-sim life games out there
11. Medieval Dynasty
Medieval Dynasty is a very different type of game than the others on this list. The graphics are very realistic vs. more pixel art or cartoony, and this game has a lot more gritty realism to it than many of the others on this list.
You can also straight up die if you're not careful and foolishly charge a bear, get surrounded by wolves, or don't see that bandit archer attacking solo travelers on the road.
This game is for players who love the mechanics of games like Stardew but also don't mind a more realistic or gritty story or take. This game looks nothing like others on the list in terms of graphics and feel, but the mechanics are there and this game has a great plot and solid feel that makes the experience a great one.
© 2022 Shane Dayton