The fifth installment in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing franchise, “New Horizons,” was released on March 20th. By this point, I had already been self-isolating for a week. The situation with COVID-19 was escalating rapidly, and I was facing the fact that I was likely to be stuck at home a long while.
I was – and am – pretty stressed out. Having never played the games before (besides a brief stint with New Leaf that did not interest me), I was not at all interested in the newest title. But then the game dropped, we were all banished to our homes, and my Twitter timeline was awash with ACNH posts.
So, I thought, why not?
Ironically, before both buying the game on the same day, Erin and I had recently finished a recording in which we agreed neither of us was interested in these games. That stance, for me at least, has changed significantly. I can confidently say I love ACNH.
It’s been a welcome and delightful reprieve from the chaos happening in the world. I spend my hours tending to my bed of roses, rearranging my furniture, chatting with villagers, and giving myself heart attacks by hunting tarantulas. Admittedly, I have also been “cheating” a little by time-skipping, but that has increased the value of the game for me.
If you’ve never played an Animal Crossing game before, I would describe it as a mashup of Stardew Valley and the Sims. Except your villagers are all adorable animals (some more likable than others – I’m looking at you, Colton). The general goal of the game is to populate a deserted island with your chosen villagers and cultivate a small town. You accomplish this by performing various collection tasks, which then allows you to expand storefronts, donate to the museum (my absolute FAVORITE component of the game), and customize your small island.
As I said before, I could not get into New Leaf. It was boring, slow, and the customization just wasn’t enough for me. I expected New Horizons to be a repeat of this, but I was beyond pleasantly surprised by how captivating the game is. The NPCs have whimsical personalities, the DIY and design aspects have kept me thoroughly busy, and most importantly – it has been an immense stress-reliever.
The one major complaint I have is the fact that the game’s engine runs on real-time. So, when Tom Nook says your house upgrade will be complete tomorrow, he literally means tomorrow. I believe the intention of this mechanic is to allow you to only put in so much time each day and to keep coming back each day. But I am a greedy bastard who wants to see the new collection of clothes or DIY recipes ASAP. Hence the small amount of cheating.
In addition, I have a few minor complaints that I hope are fixed in future patches:
- Let me craft more than one thing at a time DAMMIT
- Would appreciate a hit marker a la Stardew Valley to assist with placement of items, construction, planting, etc.
- Optimized menus (i.e., directly selecting “use a nook miles ticket” at the airport, listing all eight roof colors at once, etc.)
- Disable ability to receive duplicate DIY recipes
In conclusion, it’s safe to say I am now officially a huge fan of Animal Crossing. If your social media timelines have also been working hard to encourage you to try it out, I’d say go for it. We all deserve a little peace and quiet on a faraway island where the sun is shining bright, the flowers are abloom, and worries are nowhere to be found.