The 14 best life games on PC in 2024

The 14 best life games to take a break from reality in favor of a virtual life you have more control over, from Stardew Valley to The Sims.

Best life game: a shocked woman in a red dress in The Sims 4

What are the best life games on PC? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for and what kind of fantasy you envision. As we look ahead to the likes of Life by You and The Sims 5, we’ve built some alternative lives in a range of the latest and greatest life sims so we can guide you to the best one to make your dreams a (virtual) reality.

There’s more here than just farming and dating – though there’s plenty of that as well. Like life itself, life games come in all forms, and while your mind might leap to games like The Sims 4 and other staples of the genre, there are a host of inventive takes on the formula. Some of the best PC games that imitate life probe what it means to be alive, while others simply let you bake, date, or live as a witch. Be they adjacent to management games, farming games, or dating sims, here are the best life games for peaceful – or turbulent – escapism in 2024.

Here are the best life games on PC in 2024:

Sunrise Village

Do you crave a simple life in the countryside? In that case, give Sunrise Village a go. The game opens with you moving to the countryside to help your grandfather manage his farm (and to investigate some mysterious goings on in the process). Before long, you’ll be looking after the pigs, harvesting the crops, and expanding your farm. It’s a game that can quickly become very addictive.

As a free game, it’s one that you’ll play in short bursts (unless you want to pay). Your character is given limited energy each day and then it’s up to you how you have them use it – there are so many ways to grow your farm, and it’s endlessly rewarding to see different projects coming to completion. It’s a great game to play while riding on the bus to work or as a wind-down at the end of a hard day.

Play Sunrise Village for free.

Best life games Disney Dreamlight Valley: Player character and Minnie Mouse take a selfie together in the valley

Disney Dreamlight Valley

Disney Dreamlight Valley might still be in early access, but that didn’t stop it becoming one of the best breakouts of 2022. If you’ve ever lived alongside the likes of Mickey, Elsa, and Wall-E once upon a dream, DDLV is a life sim to make all those childhood fantasies come true. There’s no better time to dive into your own valley than right now, either, with Encanto’s own Mirabel Madrigal having moved into the village in the Mini-Casita. It looks like there will be plenty more new characters to come in the the next Dreamlight Valley update in 2024, too.

Best life games Stardew Valley: Talking to the governor at a party in Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley

Fields may wither, but Stardew Valley never loses its bloom. ConcernedApe’s farm-and-life sim offers so much, from meaningful relationships with interesting characters, to creating your own megafarm, and everything in between – literally, if you plan well and manage your resources. The broad goal is helping revive the town and keeping the sinister, definitely-not-Amazon company JojaMart from taking over.

What that translates to in terms of your day-to-day action is pretty much whatever you want. Investing in your crops and building an agricultural empire is just as viable as not doing that, or raising animals, or focusing on relationships. Some farm games, including the older Harvest Moon games Stardew draws a lot of inspiration from, fell into the trap of having characters who existed only to fall in love with you.

Everyone in Stardew has a story to tell, and it often unfolds in unexpected and emotional ways. And if you want even more control over your fantasy farm, check out the best Stardew Valley mods. If you’re already familiar with Stardew Valley, then perhaps our list of games like Stardew Valley with have something new to pique your interest.

Best life games - Little Witch in the Woods: Ellie the witch stands in front of her little wooden house surrounded by green woodland

Little Witch in the Woods

In Little Witch in the Woods, you play as Ellie, an adorable little pixelated apprentice witch. Live out your days as Ellie as you learn about witchcraft, honing your spells and potions knowledge, meeting new friends, and helping to make the world a better place with the use of magic.

Similar in style to a lot of other cute, popular life sims like Stardew Valley and Littlewood, Little Witch in the Woods is a pixelated, top-down adventure, with the USP of brewing potions instead of recipes, and meeting magical creatures and neighbours. You’ll be used to farming in these games, and this is no different, as you’ll need ingredients for said potions and spells. And of course being a witch wouldn’t be complete without a familiar, so be sure to befriend and communicate with the woods’ various feline residents, each with their own unique personalities, until you find one that wants to stay by your side forever.

Best life game: A trailer build in The Sims 4

The Sims 4

It’s taken a few years and a whole lot of content packs, but now The Sims 4 has almost everything you could want from either a life game or a Sims experience. It’s a massive living world that gives you nearly unlimited freedom, and you can fill in any gaps if you’re playing on PC by either installing Sims 4 CC or one of the best Sims 4 mods.

While the offering was a little bare at launch, the mechanics backing it up – an improved build mode and a much more robust interactions system – gave Maxis and modders sturdy foundations, and the visual and animation overhauls have stood the test of time. We’re still a long way from any kind of Sims 5 release date, but EA has revealed its next Sims game, Project Rene.

Best life games Two Point Hospital: A person with a small alien head talks to a doctor

Two Point Hospital

Hospitals are the last place you want to spend free time, but Two Point Hospital is an exception. This quirky management game tasks you with defending life – and your cash flow – by building the most efficient and desirable hospital around. Threats to patient safety include cubism and lightheadedness – and even you, depending on how well you design your facilities – but with the right research and planning, you’ll soon have the entire county lining up to be admitted. Wait, is that a good thing?

Two Point Hospital features a number of DLC packs for even greater challenges and a free Sonic the Hedgehog collaboration with costumes sure to bring a smile to your patients’ faces or cause irreversible psychological trauma. It could go either way.

And if hospitals really aren’t your thing then the sequel, Two Point Campus, applies a lot of the same management rigor and slapstick humor to college campus life. Check out our Two Point Campus review for our complete take.

Best life games Coral Island: Romancing Pablo in Coral Island

Coral Island

Starting life on Kickstarter, Coral Island smashed its original goals by over 2,300%, making it an instant success. If that isn’t enough on its own to make you wonder what you’re missing out on, then you might like to hear that this life sim is essentially what life should be: farming, fishing, flirting – all on a stunning tropical island. And if that’s still not enough, you can romance mermaids. Now I know you’re sold.

Best life games: an autumnal farm in Littlewood, with a crop management UI

Littlewood

Littlewood is a unique twist on the life sim-RPG game hybrid, as it takes place after the battle is already won. Your hero is simply looking for a place to rest, so they work with their friends – also heroes in the final fight against evil – to establish and build a village where everyone is welcome.

Littlewood offers a greater degree of freedom in how you build the village, letting you design everything from home interiors to fencing around the town’s borders. The material gathering loop gets a bit grindy at times, but the warmth and charm Littlewood exudes more than makes up for it.

Best life games - Unpacking: A one bed room with a desk and a wardrobe

Unpacking

Unpacking removes you from the equation for a more introspective take on life, exploring the things we find important, and how we create intimate spaces even in unpleasant places. The indie game‘s premise is simple: take belongings out of boxes and put them away. Each stage represents a different milestone in the life of Unpacking’s unseen protagonist – her first room as a child, for example, or the first time she lives with someone else – and the things that persist from space to space naturally change over time.

That collection of robots and figurines she loved as a kid? It’s been yeeted by the time she hits puberty, replaced by books, music, and clothes. Unpacking is a surprisingly emotional experience that, like the best life sims, manages to mean something different to everyone even with its minimalist approach to gameplay.

Stella, the player character, sails Astrid, a lynx, to the Everdoor so she can pass on into death. They sail on red waters, surrounded by beautiful white trees.

Spiritfarer

While we’re thinking about life, so too must we think about death, and that’s where Spiritfarer comes in. Playing as Stella, you take on the role of the Spiritfarer, a job tasking you with fulfilling the final requests of spirits before helping them pass on. However you might have experienced grief and loss in real life, Spiritfarer is a beautiful, painful, and cathartic journey, supported by funny and sweet dialogue with its cast of colourful characters.

Each of these characters has a heartfelt story, whether it’s Stella’s old friend reminiscing about their time together or a kindly hedgehog chatting about her grandkids. When you’re not learning more about their past lives, you’re cooking their favourite meals, crafting new items to build new rooms that will help make passengers feel more at home – all to help you and them come to terms with the inevitable parting just over the horizon. It’s not an easy game to play, but it is an important one.

Best life games - Grow Song of the Evertree: a young girl waters a colourful fantasy plant in the mystical game world

Grow: Song of the Evertree

Grow: Song of the Evertree has something for almost everyone. It deftly blends crafting, relationships, farming, exploration, and dungeon crawling in a charming package. Part of what makes it so endearing is the dream-like world your adventure takes place in.

Mythical creatures frolic in the fields under giant mushrooms, while closer to home, your new neighbors are talking foxes. Your goal is protecting what makes the world beautiful by restoring everyone’s connection to nature and the Evertree itself. It’s a touching premise that adds a more compelling sense of purpose and helps set this one apart from similar life-crafting game hybrids.

Best life games - Lemon Cake: the player character stands a red and orange kitchen under a warning message that a pastry is burning

Lemon Cake

If you wished life and life sims revolved more around making delicious confectionaries and keeping cats happy, rejoice, for Lemon Cake exists. This cute cooking game tasks you with restoring an abandoned bakery, but it doesn’t stop there.

You’ll need to invest in and rebuild the greenhouse and gardens for ingredients, find furniture to attract new customers – including cats – and bring your sweet vision to life. It’s not an easy task, but there’s a tangible sense of progress after every job well done.

Best life sims The Good Life: a beautiful body floats in water at the start of your murder mystery debt repayment life sim adventure

The Good Life

The Good Life is easily one of the more bizarre life sim games, which is part of what makes it so interesting. In theory, you’re meant to be uncovering the truth behind a dreadful murder in a rural village, investigating clues, chatting with locals, and eventually bringing the case to a close.

In practice, you’ll spend your days pretty much however you want – riding around on sheep, anticipating social media trends, planting flowers, and making friends with alcoholic priests. Instead of getting a pet, you turn into a cat or dog and have a whole new suite of exploration options open up as a result. The weirdness means it won’t work for everyone, but if you’re after something a bit less traditional, The Good Life is a must-have.

Two townsfolk get married outside a desert church in My Time at Sandrock, one of the best life games.

My Time at Sandrock

The desert community of Sandrock needs your help! The remote town has fallen into disrepair, and it needs a builder to restore it to its former glory. That’s where you come in. With your tools in hand, you can carve out a little piece of Sandrock for yourself. Your workshop serves as your base of operations as you construct elaborate farms and production lines to generate resources, whether that’s crops or building materials. Naturally, you can use these resources for your own purposes, either in building the home of your dreams or assisting the townsfolk in their endeavors.

Sandrock itself is chock-full of NPCs you can assist, befriend, and even romance. You can also venture beyond the boundaries of Sandrock and into the desert beyond, to scavenge for relics that can reveal more about the history of the town. Your survival in the desert wilds hinges on a serviceable hack-and-slash combat system consisting of ranged and melee weapons to fend off the hostile creatures roaming free. No matter how you choose to spend your time in Sandrock – be it farming, fishing, or romance – your time is sure to be well spent.

And there you are, the best life games you could ask for in 2024. Accept no substitutes, as this is a 100% factual list. For more gaming greats, why not check out the best strategy games on PC? Since life games are your thing, check out our list of games like Animal Crossing, doing their best to bring the cute style of the Nintendo-exclusive to your PC rig.

Original contributions by Josh Broadwell.