Although the pandemic wasn’t kind to any of us – it did bring a few positive changes. Some switched to a healthy lifestyle, some grew their dream hair, and others discovered new entertainment methods for every day of great fun. And among them are two incredibly addictive video games.

Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley have been incredibly popular from the very beginning. But it was the time of social isolation that brought them real fame. In the era of increased stress and omnipresent uncertainty, players found long-forgotten peace and relaxation. They also engaged crowds of new fans, often among older people for whom such titles are a creative alternative to spending their free time. Is there anything better than taking care of your garden in peace? But although similar, there are quite a few differences between the two games that can be crucial when choosing the desired title for the upcoming fall season. Are you looking for a game that gives more creative freedom? Or maybe dream of a great adventure? In this article, you’ll find the answers to all your questions about Animal Crossing vs. Stardew Valley differences – no spoilers!

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General overview

Both video games are life simulators with traits of other genres. But the main goals are the same – you find yourself in a colorful world to manage some part of the area and earn money. Animal Crossing is a game series with origins in 2002. The title has developed significantly over the years, introducing more and more improvements, until the latest Animal Crossing: New Horizons from 2020. Stardew Valley is a single independent title developed by one person, Eric Barone, alias ConcernedApe. The game quickly captured the hearts of players worldwide, offering addictive gameplay on the edge of various genres.

stardew valley

Platforms and game modes

Let’s start with the first vital difference. While Stardew Valley delivers PlayStation, Xbox, or PC gameplay, Animal Crossing is exclusive to Nintendo. So if you don’t have the equipment from the Japanese giant, you won’t be able to play it. But don’t worry, Stardew Valley is famous for being one of the best games like Animal Crossing! So if you don’t own a Nintendo Switch, feel free to enjoy this alternative. And if you are a fan of multiplayer, both titles will meet your expectations. Stardew Valley guarantees satisfying cooperative gameplay for up to four players. Animal Crossing allows fun in multiplayer for eight players with a focus on various social features.


Animal Crossing is much less concentrated on the story. In each part of this series, players create a hero and travel to some idyllic place to change it however they like. In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you come to the island with two other characters to complete quests for Tom Nook and get to know the world better. The gameplay focuses on performing tasks from other villagers, helping them in their daily life, and designing the island to turn it into a lively paradise for animal characters.

animal crossing

Meanwhile, Stardew Valley is swarming with the story. As a young, tired man, you leave the big city to take over the farm inherited from your grandfather and transform it into a profitable estate. The village becomes your home, the locals — friends and the area — a source of secrets to explore. Unlike Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley is a farm simulator with RPG elements. Much depends on your decisions or actions. And each encounter is a new story and adventure – sometimes with mature themes.


Stardew Valley offers a sandbox world in 2D pixel art with a top-down view. The creator was strongly inspired by the famous Harvest Moon, known for the very similar gameplay. If you are an enthusiast of classic retro games, you will fall in love with this title. The world also includes a very regular daily mode, in which each day lasts about twenty minutes. And your hero has to sleep to have the strength for further challenges.

stardew valley

In Animal Crossing, you will discover a desert island, which you can fill with new structures to bring in more dwellers. The title features advanced graphics in 3D that will satisfy fans of new video games. The greatest difference between Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley is the daily mode. Everything happens in real time, and each process lasts exactly as much as in real life – even plant growth, traveling or sleeping. It enables more relaxed gameplay as you never have to rush things. While every day in Stardew Valley brings some game deadlines closer, in Animal Crossing, each activity takes as much as it takes.

NPCs and relationships

Many fans of both games pay special attention to relations with NPCs. Here is the massive difference – in Animal Crossing, locals are animals, while in Stardew Valley, they are humans. In Animal Crossing, you can expect total NPC randomness as this title features as many as 300 villagers with their ambitions, characters, and motives. Each meeting is memorable, and the characters are unique. But something is still missing here.

animal crossing

Although the villagers in Stardew Valley are always the same and not so many, the relationships seem more satisfying. During the game, you can come across new people with their backstories to tell. All relationships in this title have a much deeper character and are part of the entire plot. So they give more joy and a realistic impression.

Activities and gameplay

Animal Crossing is more freedom. After completing the main quests, you can do whatever you want – a bit like in Minecraft. Your primary task is to make the island a paradise on earth and bring as many satisfied villagers as possible. The customization methods are entirely up to you, and there is no time limit. You can explore the area, hang out with NPCs, visit other players’ islands, or garden. But Animal Crossing is not a farm simulator. In this title, things like starvation, shortage of supplies, and death are impossible. Farming is just a hobby, and catching bugs or fishing is the most profitable activity.

stardew valley

The goal of this game is constant development. You can expect new quests daily, although some players find them repetitive and too simple. For this reason, create a task for yourself – terraforming the island. You can design anything you want and implement any creative project that comes to your mind. The title also provides extensive texture customization of clothes, interiors, or paths, in which you can change almost any surface. It’s carefree gameplay for fans of crafting, exploring, and customizing characters, supplemented with regular seasonal events.

The gameplay in Stardew Valley is closely related to its storyline. And this one captivates from the very first moment, presenting the themes of satisfaction in hard work and the threat posed by a massive corporation. Your task is simple – create a thriving farm that will be your dream home. However, achieving this goal requires a lot of work, and the most money comes from farming. In the meantime, you can go to Pelican Town and meet its community or embark on a journey and experience an epic adventure in dungeons. And here are two main features absent in Animal Crossing – romance and combat. In Stardew Valley, you can get married and fight monsters. The latter creates a mini-game of new possibilities where you can find hidden treasures and discover extraordinary secrets. As a role-playing game, this title guarantees better quests and long-term goals that will become challenging, especially since each day is short. But don’t worry, Stardew Valley gets relaxing once you’ve made some cash.

Stardew Valley vs Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing vs Stardew Valley – what to choose?

If you ask which game is better – there is no answer. Both games are different recommendations with unique graphics, worlds, goals, and gameplay. The only thing they have in common is the combination of a life simulator with farming and making new friends. But even these features are different. Hopefully, this conclusion will help you choose a game for yourself, your kids, or your grandparents. Both titles are a fantastic proposition for players of almost all ages supporting creativity and choice-making. So if you love fast-paced retro gameplay with RPG elements – have fun with Stardew Valley. And if you prefer a realistic pace with building, terraforming, design, and social features – choose Animal Crossing.