The best life games on PC in 2022

From Stardew Valley to The Sims 4, if you need a break from life then we suggest turning to these charming, surreal, and sometimes bizarre, life games

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. Daily life might be demanding and exhausting at times, but life games offer a chance to unwind and have greater control over someone else’s existence.

It’s more than just farming and dating – though there’s plenty of that as well. The best life sims probe what it means to be alive, and maybe try transforming into a cat as well because why not. Like life itself, life games come in all forms, and while your mind might leap to games like Stardew Valley and other stalwarts when the genre comes up, there are a host of inventive takes on the formula.

We’ve sorted through the clones and copies to pick out some of the best life games on PC. Some reward careful management and creativity. Others ask you to be as strange as possible, but will reward you for it anyway, and some have touching stories to tell that might just reveal something about yourself in the process.

Life games 2022

The best life games on PC are:

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.

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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.

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 hasn’t stopped it becoming one of the best breakout’s 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 Buzz and Woody joining the residents in a new Dreamlight Valley Toy Story update.

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?

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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 rigour and slapstick humour 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.

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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.

Best life games - Spiritfarer: the player character and some cartoon animals stand around a colourful in-game shop

Spiritfarer

Since it’s technically a death simulation game, Spiritfarer can be considered the literal opposite of a life sim, but however you categorise it, this is one of the most sensitive and beautiful sim games around. Stella, the new Spiritfarer, goes about her day-to-day ‘life’ gathering lost souls, making them comfortable on her ever-expanding barge, and eventually helping them cross over.

Each passenger has a heartfelt story, whether it’s Stella’s old friend reminiscing about their time together or a kindly hedgehog chatting about how she’ll miss her grandkids. When you’re not learning more about their past lives, you’re cooking their favorite 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.

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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.

And there you are, the best life games which make up just some of the best PC games there are. Accept no substitutes, as this is a 100% factual list. For more gaming greats, why not check out the best strategy games on PC?