Nintendo’s valiant new outing in the Animal Crossing universe successfully boosts the series to new heights while carefully preserving the heart and soul of the franchise. Animal Crossing: New Horizons takes a relatively new approach by shipping you off to a deserted island in order to provide you the opportunity to craft your very own community completely from scratch. While this means that the game sets off at a slower pace than previous entries, it never detriments the player, but contrarily builds upon the longevity of the game.
In the simplest sense, New Horizons shines in your downtime, providing you with a downright therapeutic vibe that is rarely seen in other video games. Everything from the relaxing acoustic music, to the ambience of waves rolling on the beach and wind whistling through the trees mold together to make the player feel right at home on their new island. Even the perceivably mundane tasks of slowly collecting resources one at a time and repeatedly sifting through the same species of fish before finding a new one creates this feeling of security that reminds you that there is nothing on a larger scale to worry about.
While the developers were able to establish a vibe in this game that will have you yearning to escape back to your island, their most impressive achievement comes in the form of several key new features that add much more depth to the game. Nook Miles is the best example of this, by adding a much needed layer of longevity and replayability to the franchise through its new to-do list of daily activities. This feature alone gives the player some direction when you run out of things to do for the day. Additionally, the inclusion of crafting was a welcome upgrade that gives much more importance to the resources you collect.
While I could spend hours praising this game on so many levels, it would be a disservice to not raise some of my personal concerns. My biggest gripe with the game is Nintendo’s odd choice to make your island tied to the console. This means that my fiancée can’t build her own island and is instead subjected to the leftovers of my endeavors. Instead, Nintendo should have given each user on the Switch the option to join an island or to create their own. On top of that, cooperative play feels like a chore and makes the secondary player practically useless through their lack of independence. I sincerely hope that Nintendo addresses these problems in the future, as it has slightly hindered my enjoyment of the game.
All in all, New Horizons’ landscape provides you a canvas in which to manifest your deepest creative spark, and with the current climate of the world the release of this game could not have come at a better time. I’m happy to say that my enjoyment of this game has continued along a sharp incline ever since I first arrived on my new island. I would also say that Animal Crossing firmly stands alongside the likes of Mario and Zelda as one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons: 4/5
- Endless customization
- Relaxing atmosphere
- Limited use between users
- Frustrating co-op