Paradise, created: ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ provides island escapism within the time of lockdown
The latest social simulation game from the Animal Crossing universe could not have arrived at a better time. Where everything in the world is doom and gloom and we have several more days of a lockdown to get through. New Horizons is a gem that will liven up the mood with the prospect of an island getaway — even if it is through the tiny screen of your Nintendo Switch. Bringing out the creator and collector in you, this game will consume your time in the best way possible, as long as you are open to a slightly different experience.
Animal Crossing New Horizons
- Developer: Nintendo
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Price: ₹4999 for Nintendo Switch
You create your character, which is immediately dropped into an island setting of your choice, save for a few villagers and the enigmatic Nook of Resident Services. This slice of digital life is yours to make whatever you want of it; there are no objectives, except for the first few ‘days’ which serve as a tutorial to set up the island and familiarise yourself with the various mechanics. We recommend choosing northern hemisphere with its seasons that are much like ours.
If you are used to games telling you what to do, you would be instantly lost in New Horizons. The beginning is a slow burn as you get into the habit of making your own objective plan for the day, something that came naturally to my seven-year-old daughter, who collected bugs, and dug around for fossils. Earn enough Bells, the local currency, and you can kit yourself, your home and your island out with the latest gear.
New Horizons’ customisations extend to the island as you craft new tools that actually terraform the island. At first, the map you select may not allow you to access most parts of it, being blocked off by tiny rivers. As you proceed, you can build bridges, houses for your residents, to attract more island-folk. My daughter, the collector, has a museum setup so that the residents and visitors can enjoy her collection.
The game changes things up daily, with new ways to make more money: selling fruit, keeping an eye out for what different sellers want to buy and selling them at a high price, or finding messages in bottles. You can also go to a nearby island to obtain new species of fish or bugs, maybe get some materials to build new tools.
The game falters in the grinding, in that you need to manually hit up every rock or tree to see what falls. It is repetitive, but also therapeutic. Once you have your island in place, you can sit back and relax after a hard day’s work and watch the sunset.
New Horizons is incredibly cute, with its humanoid animals and excellent writing. Beautifully minimal, it just works with its intuitive controls and user interface.The best part is, you can show it off to friends. Via local Switches, you can invite friends over to your island to play or if you have Switch pals online, you can invite them over or be invited over to see their creations. While there is not much to do but mill about with them, it is still fun.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is escapismand there are no demons to kill here. This one is a gift that keeps on giving.