Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was for me and many others the type of game they needed at the time of its release, what I didn’t expect was that almost a year later I would still be playing almost every day. If you’re looking for a great island getaway to get away from reality, Animal Crossing New Horizons is just that.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons delivers on being the next big step for the series. It’s a fantastic upgrade from the previous main-line entry, which was a 3DS title. As you can already imagine, it being on the Nintendo Switch, brings the welcoming world of Animal Crossing to life like never before. Being able to experience the game's charming art style in full HD is a treat. It clearly has a more cartoony art style going on but that doesn’t take away from the beautiful sights you encounter in this game. Each season brings a new feel to your island, the gorgeous cherry blossom petals during spring, and the pristine white snow that covers everything in winter. No matter what time of year it is on your island it’ll be inviting. Where I believe the team really outdid itself was the museum. Each island has a museum that serves as a place to show off the island's wildlife. Every bug, fish, and fossil you collect can be displayed here for your viewing pleasure. The amount of care and love that went into the creation of each exhibit is clear the moment you set foot into any room. There’s the fish tank that stretches upward of two stories that houses a school of fish. There’s also the beautiful butterfly conservatory that allows you to sit among a bouquet of fluttering butterflies. Being able to sit down and look at all you’ve collected in such a beautiful arrangement will make every kind of collector proud.
Animal Crossing runs fantastically on the system both in Tv-Mode and docked. I’m primarily a handheld player but whenever I dock my switch, on very rare occasions, I’m always impressed by Animal Crossing’s visuals. What does have its hiccups is Animal Crossing’s online infrastructure, which is a shame because the game has been such a great way to connect with others during this time. Even so, connecting with a group of friends can be a tad irritating. Say you want to invite seven of your buddies over to your island. Each time one friend arrives the game asks you to stop what you’re doing and it precedes to take you into a cutscene introducing the friend that’s arriving. It’s cute but imagine having to drop everything you’re doing over and over every time someone joins or leaves the island. Being on the other side of this coin is just as annoying. If you are trying to enter an island and a player on the island can’t or won’t stop what they’re doing, you simply won’t be able to join. You’ll have to wait until the player is done talking with a shopkeeper or just hope you have good timing.
The adventure begins with the Nook Inc.'s Deserted Island Getaway package, a travel package the player and two intrepid animal villagers decide to take a chance on. You then depart by plane and arrive on a slightly unkempt island. After showing great initiative with the various tasks Tom Nook assigns, he appoints you Island Representative! Turning this island from uncharted wilderness to a bustling community is up to you. The beginning of your adventure on the island can be a bit hand-holdy but there’s a lot of new tools and mechanics to be introduced. The introduction of DIYs brings a new aspect to collecting. DIYs use the island's resources like stone, clay, or wood, for you to craft various items, tools, and furniture. Allowing you still decorate your island in its early stages by using natural resources. As time goes on you’ll encounter new DIYs that require more materials that will reward you with rare goodies you’ll want to show off. I’ve been playing for quite some time and I still haven’t saved up enough materials to craft myself a giant robot, one of the more resource-heavy DIYs. Another fantastic feature is your handy Nook Phone. Included in your getaway package is a smartphone entrusted to all residents by Tom Nook. This useful little guy has a slew of built-in apps and features to help make the most out of your island living. You’ve got what you would expect, your camera app, your map, but the most fulfilling feature you’ll find is Nook Miles+. Nook Miles + rewards players with a currency that can be redeemed for items and special DIYs. Nooks Miles are granted just by doing things on your island. You can get rewarded for catching fish, or perhaps simply chatting it up with some of your neighbors. And once completed another task fills its place. Giving players an endless stream of small activities that not only introduces new players to ins and outs of Animal Crossing but also rewards the hardcore crowd with a reliable source to chase rewards. There are some small gripes I have with the game, however. Some simple quality of life changes would go a long way, for example, being able to craft in bulk. There are some items, such as fish bait, that having a large sum of would be convenient. Perhaps there’s a fishing tournament taking place or you’re hunting for a shark that’s eluded you for some time. To have a healthy inventory of fish bait you’d have to craft it one by one. It sounds like a minor thing, and it is, but the tediousness of crafting certain items that are literally meant to be used more than once is a tad insulting to the player’s time.
ACNH is full of cute and charming animals that will make the coldest of hearts melt. Each animal will fall under one of eight personality types. Snooty, Sisterly, Lazy, Smug, Jock, Normal, Peppy, and Cranky. Of course, you COULD have an island full of cranky villagers but with over 380 potential animal residents to invite to your island having an assortment of personalities mesh is fun to watch and interact with. Sometimes the residents will talk amongst themselves and you can eavesdrop or join the conversation. The animal residents are more alive than ever. Aside from catching them in conversation, you might see them eating a midday snack, or trying to catch a butterfly. The charm is dialed up to 11. You’ll hear an audible “Aww” out of me every time I catch Kiki in her reading glasses.
It’s always a challenge for me to explain the appeal of Animal Crossing to those unfamiliar with the series. As far as I’m concerned the point of Animal Crossing is up to you. In other words, the point of Animal Crossing is that there is no point. Your time in the game can be spent in so many different ways and all are correct. Once you learn the basics you’re free to take this game at any pace you like. Whether you’re the type of player who just wants to hop in for a few minutes of fishing or the one who spends hours terraforming their island into something brand new, whatever player you are, your efforts, big or small, feel rewarding. As I mentioned previously at the beginning of this review, I’ve been enjoying Animal Crossing almost every day since its release. After spending over 600 hours creating the island of my dreams I decided to leave that home behind and start anew. That’s right, I deleted all my hard work and started afresh save, in turn erasing all the items, fossils, and DIYs I collected over the past year. It was hard to say goodbye to my bestie, Cheri, but it’s been a surprisingly cathartic experience thus far. It’s exciting to see new faces I’ve never met, as much as it is to run into old friends from my previous save. Having a blank slate to slowly develop has brought me back to the highs of when I first started playing.
It would be heedless for me to not mention the incredible timing of Animal Crossing’s release. Where there was nowhere for us to go, enter Animal Crossing, the perfect escape. In a time where cozy content was what the world needed, I’m certain that helped with its extreme spike in popularity. However, what’s kept me and so many playing, is that at its core, it’s simply a great game. With countless hours of entertainment, it still has so much to offer players almost a whole year later.
And that’s the Borderline Bottomline for Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Article Written by Rauwshan Warner