I didn’t quite know what to expect with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, having never picked up, or watched anyone play the previous four games in the franchise. All I knew about the game is that you live in a world populated with anthropomorphized animals, one of which is an adorable Shiz-Tu called Isabelle.
I don’t quite understand why I never got my hands on a copy of an Animal Crossing game prior to New Horizons, and I must say I am quite disappointed in myself because this game has me completely hooked, I feel like I’ve missed out on years of relaxing, wholesome gaming content, but I am so glad I have discovered it now.
Now, I have to say New Horizons charmed me from the get-go; the aesthetic is on point, the HUD is gorgeous. This isn’t something I point out often in game reviews, but the graphic design for everything is so clean and lovely looking, especially everything on the Nook smartphone, which in itself is a great mechanic within the game.
I love how simple the game is to start with, everything is relatively basic including character customisation, at first I was a bit put out with the lack of clothing options, but as the days have passed I have learned this isn’t the type of game that throws everything at you, which is a breath of fresh air.
The format of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I will admit, was something I had to get used to. I have never really played anything like it, apart from maybe The Sims, but in the Sims, you can have everything pretty much from the beginning, you can skip time etc. Whereas, Animal Crossing is in real-time, which is completely new to me.
I was worried, being quite an impatient person, that this was going to be an issue for me, however, I love how the game drip feeds you mechanics, which in turn, encourages you to maybe stop playing until tomorrow…which is successful for the most part, as it is so easy to spend two hours straight just fishing. I love waking up each morning now and checking the progress on my island, I can’t even begin to express how excited I was on the morning the full museum opened, and let me tell you it is great.
The museum has to be my favourite aspect of the game. One of the things I love most about games like this is collecting and cataloguing, and the museum takes this to another level by displaying them. It is huge and wonderfully designed, the aquarium is just on another level to what I was expecting. This could have been something so basic, but the care and attention to detail that has been put into it are amazing and there is nothing more satisfying than seeing all of your finds displayed in such a gorgeous way.
I will admit I have been struggling over the past week, seeing so many people advance so far, and I was falling behind a little bit. My inexperience showed and I did find myself getting a little bit frustrated, having misread something and spent two days waiting for Tom Nook to give me something when I merely needed to select a dialogue option I thought wouldn’t work. But this is all down to my own inexperience with the game, and ‘Kokoro Island’ is now well on its way to becoming a thriving community!
Because I am enjoying the game so much I really didn’t want to bring the negative into this review, but I have to because the feature to have only one island per console is the only disappointing aspect of the game. This has been common knowledge for a while, but it doesn’t make it less annoying. I was willing to be on board with it when I realised you could have another save-file, they would just live on the same island. I must say it just doesn’t feel right.
You can’t interact with the other player if you are playing on your own, as in they don’t wander around as the other villagers do, this was the first red flag for me, if you do want to interact with the other player, you have to go on multiplayer mode, which I must say isn’t great. One person is the leader and the other one follows around, not able to access their pockets. It got to the stage where it felt like my island had been invaded by an unseen force and my boyfriend felt weird being on my island without me being around…so we deleted his save file.
This is so disappointing and frustrating because we have no intention of buying another Switch just to have two separate islands like Nintendo clearly wants us to. It left a bad taste in my mouth, because this gorgeous game, which is so wholesome and pure has this annoying element to it that is purely down to Nintendo wanting to make more money.
Despite this, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a beautiful game that is a charming distraction from the real world (despite me still owing over 100,000 bells to an entrepreneurial Tanuki). I don’t even think I have begun to scrape the surface since picking it up on Friday, but I am so excited for my island to flourish over the next few months!