Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review

Animal Crossing Continues with New Game

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review

Sarah Haylow, Writer

I have played a lot of games in the time I have been alive. I’ve played everything from intense RPGs to first-person shooters. I’ve played sandbox games like Minecraft (who hasn’t?) and classic games like Super Mario. I’ve let myself get lost and completely immersed in fictional video game worlds like Hyrule and helped save the princess. I’ve been a hero of so many worlds and in so many stories that I’ve lost count. There is one world however that I am not the hero of, at least not in the traditional sense. That world is a lone island in Animal Crossing New Horizons.

I don’t remember much from my first Animal Crossing game. I was really young and received it probably for Christmas or my birthday. I lost the game as well as my first Nintendo DS in a baseball park in the rain. I never saw my first Animal Crossing town again. I then experienced the game again on the Wii and I poured hours into this world. When I heard that they were making a new Animal Crossing game for the Nintendo Switch I was enthralled. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. So, what makes Animal Crossing so exciting that I’m willing to pour hours into it? 

You start the game being told that you are being shipped off to live on an uninhabited island with nothing but a starter tent and the clothes on your back. You then get to create your own character with the limited options they give you for customization. You finally jump on a plane with two tiny raccoon boys and eventually arrive at your island where your adventure starts. You become the unofficial leader of your island and make decisions like where your tent goes and where everyone else’s does. You remain under the careful watch of Tom Nook, a raccoon who essentially controls the economy and the construction of your newly found island. Once your first day is under your belt, you’re sent out to do whatever you want. You catch bugs, fish, and dig up fossils. You sell everything you collect to earn in-game money, which you can then spend on things like an actual home instead of a tent. You talk to your villagers, who are all anthropomorphic animals. You build relationships with them and get to know their unique personalities. The more you progress the more things become available to you. You get to open a goods store, a museum, and my personal favorite: a tailor shop. You design your own island from the ground up, all by logging in hours every single day to slowly chip away at the goals that are laid out in front of you. You create your own utopia and get to live in it.

The gameplay itself can seem boring and tedious. Catching fish and getting a sea bass for the eighth time in a row? Frustrating. Waiting days for fruit or trees to regrow? Frustrating. Not progressing as fast as someone else online? Extremely frustrating. That’s the thing though, the game is ultimately what you make of it. The game is designed and built to be immersive and is meant to feel real. You’re meant to feel heartbroken when your cat villager tells you she’s thinking of moving out. You’re meant to feel proud when you pay off your house loan for the third time. You’re meant to feel excited and proud to log into a world where you get to work for the things that you enjoy in the game. I have spent many an hour selling out my inventory just to be able to buy the new clothes the tailor shop is offering. I’ve loved seeing and talking to my villagers every day and I get irrationally excited and happy when a new villager decides to move to my island. I feel proud when things get done and I can see the fruits of my in-game labor. 

As I said earlier, Animal Crossing is what you make of it and I definitely don’t think it’s a game for everyone. The game itself has some wonky mechanics that some find hard to look past and the amount of time it takes to get something in the game done can be frustrating for many. I don’t even think that I’m as obsessed with the game as many other people are. At the end of the day though, the game is an immersive simulation that you can do whatever you want with. I think that is the answer to my question. I’ve spent hours playing this game because I love to log in every day and feel proud of the stuff I did the previous day. I enjoy the simple parts of the game that make me feel like I’m on a real island with real characters and not some crazy high fantasy world. It’s a change of pace that is relaxing and wholesome. I think it’s worth the 60 dollars I spent on it and I think anyone who wants a break from life should give it a try.