REVIEW: ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ provides escape, lightheartedness in times of chaos

Editor-in-Chief Catherine Hayden writes that new relaxing and cute Animal Crossing: New Horizons  provides endless fun.

Courtesy Animal Crossing

Editor-in-Chief Catherine Hayden writes that new relaxing and cute ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ provides endless fun.

Catherine Hayden, Editor-in-Chief

Before I had “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” the thought of caring about daily turnip prices would’ve seemed ridiculous. Now, a month later, I can only say that this game has taken over more of my life than I care to admit. 

You begin the game ($60 on Nintendo Switch) by settling on a deserted island with two other villagers. Though there is no set path or ultimate goal, you essentially spend your time catching fish and insects to earn money to pay off a series of home loans to Tom Nook, the raccoon who owns the company through which you settled on the island.

Along the way, you can invite new villagers to live on your island, upgrade your home and discover new fish and insects to donate to the island’s museum. Unlike most games, there is no competition aspect to it, only collaboration, which adds to its relaxing aspect. While the overview of the game may seem simplistic, the beauty of “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is that it isn’t overly complicated or dramatic.

Soft music plays in the background of the game wherever you go and only adds to the islands’ soothing atmosphere. If I had this soundtrack behind me at all moments in real life, I don’t think I’d ever have another care in the world.

The design, animation and mannerisms of the villagers are also endearing. While your character is a human, every other villager is an anthropomorphized animal, which may sound scary at first but I assure you that their cartoonish nature and soft edges make them adorable. Each one has their own distinctive personality, and in this time of social distancing, they do really feel like friends.

Time in the game is synced with time in real life, a feature that few video games have. Different creatures are out depending on the time of day, which rewards you playing it for more frequently but shorter periods of time rather than playing it all at once, something that’s much easier in this time of COVID-19 than any other time.

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is perfect for people of all ages, since you can take as long as you want doing any task and whatever task you do is completely up to you. If you want to spend your days tending flowers and your nights wishing on shooting stars, that’s perfectly fine.

While I believe nearly everyone could enjoy the game, if you’re looking for a fast-paced horror game, Animal Crossing is definitely not for you. The scariest part of the whole game for me has been getting rushed at by a tarantula I hadn’t seen, but the little fright was nothing serious.

Though the cheerful graphics and peaceful soundtracks serve as an excellent escape from reality, I must admit that the frustration I felt when I could not catch a centipede was immense. This just goes to show that a game doesn’t need to be serious for you to get invested in it. Don’t even get me started on the time I accidentally released a valuable insect I caught. 

The game is admittedly pricey at $60; however, since it is such a good game for the whole family, you can easily split the cost between family members as my family did. If you don’t have a Nintendo Switch but are still looking to experience the game, consider “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp” for iOS and Android, though it is not as extensive as “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.”

My one critique of the game is its local multiplayer mode. While multiple people can play together on the same console, your options are limited when you aren’t the leader of the party. For example, the party leader is the only one who can talk to other residents of the island or access their inventory. Still, everyone in the family can play individually on the shared island which makes it easy to share as long as you’re able to take turns.

For years I had heard about how lovely the Animal Crossing series was, but I had never played it. I heard that it was serene, lighthearted, cute. I can confirm that this praise is nothing short of the truth. With all the hecticness in the real world now, the game is the perfect tranquil escape we could all use.