Clear blue skies, lush green grass and fresh running water… After Day 14 of being isolated at home all of these things started to feel like a distant memory until I loaded up Animal Crossing: New Horizons. New Horizons greets you with chill island tunes, a plane flying over head, and clear blue tides rolling onto the golden shores of what will soon become your home.
Once you get into the swing of things and start personalising your villager and island, it becomes clear that while the customisation tool won’t let you recreate a picture perfect version of yourself, or your house, it’s more than you need to show off your style.
Time in-game follows that of the real world, and specific features are only made available at certain times of the day, or even year. Want to catch a scorpion? You’re going to have to wait until it gets dark. A tarantula? You’ll only spot one in the colder seasons. Where this really excelled in previous iterations of the franchise is through special events such as fireworks on New Years, Santa Claus on Christmas and the townsfolk even celebrating your birthday. These events really help bring the world to life.
Day by day you’ll find yourself chatting to your fellow villagers, decorating your home and building up your town. You’ll be itching for Blathers to open up his museum so you can hand over all the fish, insects and fossils you’ve collected for him, only to find out that he doesn’t even want them all. But no matter, you can sell them, and you’ll need to to in order to pay off your debt to Tom Nook, the seemingly helpful raccoon who appeared to want nothing more than to guide you selflessly through the game, right up until the moment he invoiced you hundreds of thousands of bells for an island you already lived on and a tent you already called home.
So you may be wondering, what makes this game so great? Why is my Twitter feed flooded with these weird looking animals with puns of questionable quality? To put it simply this game is the chicken soup of the video game world. You know what you’re getting, it’s comforting and it soothes the soul. Most importantly the game manages to reward you for everything you do and encourages you to explore all the features it has to offer. Want to customise your furniture? Go right ahead! Feel like flying to a nearby deserted island? Let’s do it! Want to whack your fellow islanders over the head with a net? Don’t let us stop you! The game provides you with an escape, where you can set and achieve various challenges but in the end, nothing really matters.
Pandemic? Flattening the curve? Social distancing? You don’t have to worry about any of that here. At times of such uncertainty Nintendo couldn’t have chosen a better time to release this wholesome romp.