Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review
Let’s talk about a headliner game from Nintendo that took the internet by storm on March 20th, 2020. We’re talking about the real time life simulation that is Animal Crossing: New Horizons (or if you prefer something shorter: ACNH). It’s the 8th and newest edition to the series and is jampacked with new features and mechanics that will provide endless hours of gameplay. Think Stardew Valley, if it was set on a vacation island, but with less direction, and less of a need to be productive.
The story is easy to follow. You’re buying a Deserted Island Getaway Package and start off at a check in counter with two “Nooklings” called “Timmy” and “Tommy“. You’re asked a series of questions, and you can select the initial island map, name the island/avatar and more. Soon, you board and make your way to your very own island! You then meet Tom Nook, head of Nook Incorporated and two random villagers. Tom helps out with island upgrades, residential services, is the dedicated task-giver, also acting as the leader/developer of the island. He’s also the lender for your brand new house. Tom is kind enough to give you all the time you need to pay him back, without interest! Though you start off living in a tent with limited amenities, you’ll eventually unlock more features over time to customise your island and expand your house.
The goal? Get your island famous and populated enough to grab K.K. Slider‘s attention! Also, get him interested enough to want to perform gigs in person. But what about the rest? What happens once you reach that goal? Well, that’s down to you.
Enjoy life, your way. Sky’s the limit!
Whether you are a newcomer to the series or a seasoned veteran, the gameplay works surprisingly well with integrating you into its world. You start off with no tools, museums, infrastructures or easy way to get around, but you do get a “Nook Phone” that updates and adds applications. You must first craft and collect everything yourself, including the essentials to get started. This is in order to get acquainted on how to personalise your island. It’s an intuitive, innovative method of introducing small goals into what is otherwise an open experience. As your game is based on “real time”, you can get about completing goals at your own pace, and have new game mechanics introduced to you at your own pace. In other words, there’s no rush to complete tasks and you can work it into a daily routine.
Please keep this in mind as you’re designing your island though! You can only construct up to eight bridges and eight staircases. You also have a limited amount of slots for custom designs, so choose carefully! For those who have not got the game just yet, there’s just one more caveat: You can only own one island per Switch, no matter how many people are using the Switch.
Nook Phone? Check! Tools? Double check!
The game rewards small chunks of consistent play time, however, you can also choose to play huge chunks and still be rewarded for your efforts. But what kind of rewards will you get? Well, the possibilities are endless! Some examples include obtaining new buildings, new residents, more tools, terrain building, creating stairs and bridges, making custom paths, setting your own island theme/song and more! There’s even an island development ranking system! There’s never a dull moment with New Horizons, and the regular updates also keep the gameplay fresh and teeming with creative opportunities. Additionally, you can invite friends over to your island (provided you have a Nintendo Online subscription), and participate in various events.
The graphics have been vastly improved and polished in comparison to the game’s previous instalments. The attention to detail in the weather system and every item/character truly brings this game and your island to life. The attention to detail about wildlife facts, art, and so on are simply stunning. Your experience in designing and customising equipment and outfits will be much more convenient than before! The current instalment to the series truly was a much needed face lift and I am all here for it!
Let’s discuss music. New Horizons has this in abundance, and its variety is just marvelous. Each hour has its own soundtrack, bringing about its own charm to the game. Then, there’s K.K. Slider’s extensive list of songs you could request or purchase with in game currency, and have playing across all four corners of the island. If you’re more of a live gig viewer, provided you have already grabbed his attention, Mr. Slider will come on a special day during the week and perform exclusively for the residents of your island. You can request for any of your favorite songs, or ask him to choose for you. Pretty neat, right?
What of the updates? What’s the verdict?
Since the game’s initial release, it met with several intriguing updates. As I’m writing this, the most recent of update has just dropped – for Halloween/Fall. Previous updates include Easter and two Summer updates, containing special themed DIYs, events, collectibles, outfits, game mechanics and more. Out of all the updates so far, my personal favourite has to be the update which introduced the swimming mechanic. You could now explore the ocean surrounding the island and collect various items to spruce up the look of your island. Since the Halloween update has only just dropped, I’ve only just been introduced to the new content that came with it, including the brand new pumpkin farming mechanic!
I am excited for what’s to come with the New Horizon updates in the future, and strongly recommend for people to grab a copy of this game. There’s endless amounts of replay-ability, content and creative possibilities at your fingertips. I’m always creating something new, or updating the look of my island. If I’m not happy with a particular area, it’s not too hard to remove and reconstruct everything. It’s fun, but time consuming so I often play in short bursts to not burn myself out. As of now, I’m sitting on 425 hours of gameplay, and counting. Worth every penny.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons can be purchased on the Nintendo Store.