The world is a pretty tense and scary place at the moment. Global politics? Tension. Public health? Pandemic. The Environment? Literally only just stopped being on fire. And it isn’t even April. With a fair amount of the world going into quarantine and self-isolation, it’s safe to say we need something good to focus on. Luckily, Nintendo has our backs with the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons on March 20th.
Being the fifth game in this beloved Nintendo IP, New Horizons promises to be the most customisable, interactive, and expansive version of Animal Crossing to date. With dozens of new features like the ability to craft furniture, paths, and bridges, fans have already been overflowing with potential ways to craft the blank canvas that is their island.
As always, New Horizons allows players to go fishing, catch bugs and dig up fossils to fill up their town’s very own museum, or, in this new version, use their finds to decorate their island. The collecting element of Animal Crossing is a time-consuming one, but in the best kind of way, and there’s a real sense of genuine accomplishment when you finally reel-in that elusive sea creature or catch a rarely-spotted bug. Being able to lose yourself for a while in otherwise mundane tasks like picking weeds, shaking trees for fruit, or even paying off your mortgage, is just one of the ways Animal Crossing is the perfect game to dive into when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
It’s the community aspect of the Animal Crossing series which has long since been my favourite part of playing the games. Thanks to the real-time clock operating in-game, Animal Crossing is designed for the long-term. Over time, as more and more villagers move in, each bringing their own quirky personalities, your town truly begins to feel like its own little community. Over the months, your friendship with them deepens, and there’s still no reward quite like your favourite villager gifting you a framed portrait of themselves as a sign of their friendship.
In hindsight this feature is a little strange, but hey, it’s cute.
No one else playing the game has your exact combination of villagers, or a town designed like yours. It’s your own little haven of happiness in a world which we really don’t have much control over. But here, in Animal Crossing, everything is an idyllic version of itself, and there’s a comfort in being able to escape into that.
There are special events and festivals which vary from season to season, and these only add to the feeling that the town which has found a place on your console is one which is alive and ever-changing. Whilst you’re not playing, things are still happening: people are moving in or out, competitions are being won, and fruit is growing. Your villagers often comment on how long you’ve been gone, or ask how you’ve been, and personally, I’ve always found this a really lovely feature. It makes Animal Crossing feel truly alive, and more than just a game.
You become attached and invested in a game like Animal Crossing, losing hours in a town, or in this case an entire island, that is completely and uniquely your own. It’s slow paced, time-consuming in a fun way, and full of charm and character. In the world of Animal Crossing, everything is about working together, finding happiness in the small things, and taking one day at a time, and right now? I think those are just the things we need.