Like many people around the globe, I’ve been obsessively playing Anime Crossing: New Horizons since it was released last month. I boot up the game daily, often multiple times a day, and find myself completely absorbed by its simple yet addicting gameplay. In fact, I had to tear myself away from it in order to sit down and write this review. But what is it about this game that has so completely charmed both myself and countless other players? Well, here are my thoughts on what makes Animal Crossing: New Horizons such a fun experience.
Relaxing Gameplay: Times are stressful right now, COVID-19 has become a global pandemic and people have a lot to worry about, including their health and the health of their loved ones and, in some cases, their livelihoods. On top of that, people are cooped up at home, unable to do a lot of the things that they usually enjoy, and may be feeling isolated, bored or anxious. I think that’s why New Horizons has become such a balm to so many people; the simple nature of the gameplay is soothing. There’s no combat or anything that can kill you (even a tarantula bite only makes you faint temporarily), instead your avatar runs around an idyllic island collecting things. You collect materials, such as branches or rocks, for crafting, bugs or fish to donate to the museum, clothing items to dress up your avatar and money to pay off your home loan. It’s easy, comfortingly easy, and, best of all, it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you add another critter to the museum or finally pay off your in-game house. The second major gameplay mechanic is decorating, so you’re also collecting furniture and using it to spruce up your house or to beautify your island. In addition to this, New Horizons offers you more control than any previous installment in the franchise when it comes to customization. You decide where the other villager’s houses go, where to build bridges and you can even use terraforming to transform the landscape, allowing you to mold your island into your perfect paradise. In a time where a lot of major things are happening that are outside of our control, it feels good to be able to escape to a world where you have the power to shape things to your liking.
Overwhelming Adorableness: Everything in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is cute! Your house is cute. The quirky animals that move to the island and act as your neighbours are cute. The greedy landlord tanuki, Tom Nook, who lets you do all the work of bettering the island while he sits back and relaxes in a tent, is cute. Heck, even the player avatars are freakin’ adorable! Here’s a picture of my avatar wearing a little cat hat while dressed as a serious businesswoman. Often I’ll be running around the island, working hard to gather wood or iron for my next DIY project, and a villager will prance by while happily singing a jaunty little tune to themselves and it will make me smile. Or I’ll open my mailbox and start giggling because Jacob the woodpecker has sent me some kind of nonsense letter where he misspelled “congratulations” in three different ways. Other times I’ll watch one of the animals stop to smell a flower that I just planted and I’ll feel genuinely pleased that they are enjoying my efforts. New Horizons is truly a joyful world to inhabit and I’m becoming really attached to the weird and wonderful characters who populate it.
Sharing the Experience with Others: One of the most appealing aspects of New Horizons, at least for me, is the online gameplay. I can’t visit my friends or see my family in real life right now, but I can visit them in the world of New Horizons! I’ve had a great time checking out what my friends and my brother have done with their islands and meeting the different animals that live there. I can also exchange gifts with my friends via the game’s mail service or just send them little messages when we’re playing the game at the same time. I’ve also posted pictures of my in-game exploits on Twitter and even shared some clothing designs I’ve created. It’s great, during these trying times, to have something light-hearted and fun that allows me to continue to feel connected to others.
There you have it. Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a ray of sunshine for me and I imagine that I’ll continue to get a lot of enjoyment out of it for quite some time. The only complaints I have are minor quibbles about little inefficiencies in the game, like how you can’t craft multiples of an object at once. It would be nice if some of these wrinkles were ironed out in a future update, but, as it is, they aren’t having too big of an impact on my experience. I was also starting to worry that I’d soon run out of things to do in the game, as I’ve been playing it so much and have already accomplished a lot, but, thankfully, Nintendo has been rolling out events and regular updates that provide additional features, so it looks like I won’t have to worry about that anytime soon!
Final Score: 9.5 out of 10
For more information on Animal Crossing: New Horizons, visit the game’s website: https://animal-crossing.com/new-horizons/
What do you think about Animal Crossing New Horizons? Who’s your favourite villager? Let me know in the comments. By the way, my current favourite of my villagers is Gaston!