Review: Animal Crossing’s Warmth and Peace in a Time of Chaos

Animal Crossing: New Horizons offers the perfect safe haven for people to relax in a virtual island town with animal friends


Abby Noh

The wildly popular Nintendo game Animal Crossing: New Horizons makes a huge splash in the Nintendo Switch game series.

Nintendo’s latest blockbuster title for their Nintendo Switch system, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, released March 20, is a remarkable game that shakes up the series’ formula while retaining its all-around charm.

Thanks to the remarkable generosity of the raccoon trio of Tom, Timmy and Tommy Nook, your character along with two other animal neighbors are invited to live on a tropical island. Neighbors can range anywhere from a peppy squirrel with a unibrow to a bright-eyed jock horse.

The premise of living it out in paradise sounds extremely attractive, but more so is the amount of customization options the player has in the game.

The player can choose to go fishing, catch bugs, whack neighbors with their net, build houses and even raid other islands for resources, all naturally suiting the overhanging third-person perspective. The level of freedom and cute humor fits perfectly with the adorable, smooth artstyle.

Although the activities completed each day are largely the same, the game does manage to mitigate the repetitive aspects through incentives and new projects offered at the perfect moments. 

Time is of the incense, however, as the game runs in an interesting real-life time gimmick. The clock, time and weather cycles will mirror which part of the world you’re in, making the game feel more alive and allowing players to set goals for each day.

Being able to sell rocks or weeds for in-game money, or “bells” may sound silly, but it’s always satisfying to earn more loot to then purchase items for in-game customization. Such options are offered by the greedy Tom Nook, who allows you to upgrade your home while you pay off a hefty loan payment, a perfect reward for playing the game.

A new program on your in-game cell phone, the Nook Miles Program, further incentivizes the player to continue playing the game in return for miles. Miles can then be used to purchase rarer items in a well-developed system.

Compared to past games in the series, players now also have the ability to craft items, dramatically altering the way decorations and tools are acquired in an expansive and innovative way.

Other opportunities are presented to the player such as opening a city hall that offers jobs, museums and even a store, much of which is not seen over the course of at least 15 hours of gameplay.

The sheer quantity and quality on display are surprising to see in such a simple game, yet thoroughly delightful. It easily justifies the $60 price, considering the game can be played for years on end with a continuous flow of new content. 

Nintendo’s $20 online program also allows players to visit their friends’ islands, play games and share items, further justifying the price point. 

Unfortunately, the game’s length also comes at a cost. The fantastically groovy hourly music is locked behind the city hall and will not play until it is built.  Thus, the beginning weeks of the game are filled with an uninspired island song.

On the other hand, New Horizons’ characters are even more charming with their underlying humor and all-around friendliness. It’s an absolute joy to have an airplane transport called “Dodo Airlines,” or the precious character, Tommy Nook, who wants everyone on the island to get along. 

There’s a level of fidelity among them, further encouraging your island endeavors. 

While New Horizons doesn’t redefine the town design genre, it is certainly a highly addictive and joyous video game. From the thousands of possible gameplay hours with constant new content, the game is easily worth the price of admission and is the perfect place for some unadulterated fun.