by Staff Writer Anya Agarwal
After a month and a half of being cooped up inside, escaping to any place other than home sounds like paradise. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the perfect getaway — a chance to relax and destress while taking control of life once again, all within the confines of your own home.
In the delightful world of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, players live on a deserted island with anthropomorphic animals. The game provides a wide variety of activities to do, from catching rare fish in the ocean to digging up fossils and donating to the island museum. Players also gather resources to craft anything from furniture to umbrellas.
Unfortunately, the start of the game can be slow since hours of gameplay are needed to gather enough resources to unlock certain features. However, instead of being tedious, the peaceful atmosphere of the game converts monotonous tasks into a chance to destress and relax on an aesthetically-pleasing island. Above all, Animal Crossing: New Horizons excels in endless customizability, from the layout of the island to the designs of the character’s clothes. Out of the millions of islands created by players, no two look the same.
The music ties in with the theme and visuals of the game to offer a sense of escapism to the player. It is soft and not overpowering while still allowing the player to be completely immersed in the whole island experience. In the beginning of the game, the background music remains in a soft guitar loop all day. However, once out of this phase, each hour of the game has its own track, some more upbeat and others more mellow. Even more, the hourly track changes slightly with the weather; for example, sleigh bells are scattered throughout the track when it is snowing.
The flawless details throughout the whole game are what allow the aesthetics to truly pop out. The realistic animations are a huge step up compared to the rigid graphics of previous games in the Animal Crossing franchise. This is mainly due to the Nintendo Switch’s stronger graphics processing unit (GPU) as compared to the weaker GPUs from previous Nintendo consoles. The resulting detailed animations enhance the lifelike feeling of the game. For example, when raining, the droplets leave tiny spots of water where they hit the rocks. Leaves on the trees and flower petals rustle and move naturally in the breeze. Even long hair on the character sways in the wind. With calm, undulating waves splashing onto the golden beach, it truly feels like an immersive trip to an actual tropical island.
The bright, pastel color palette is exactly what the perfect tropical island would have: the soft yet vibrant blues of the rivers and ocean combined with the bright luscious green of the ground and trees. Even the characters and animals fit this theme, with rounded shapes and smooth features. No color or shape is harsh; instead, the calming colors and soft edges allow for an enjoyable, serene experience.
Even without any prior Animal Crossing experience, the controls are very easy to pick up. Moving the character around the island is not only easy, but the transitions when switching directions are also smooth and effortless. Players use several different tools to collect items, such as fishing poles and axes. At first, it is slightly difficult frequently switching between each of the tools, but once again, the game has a convenient Tool Ring for easy access.
The game developers have thought of and addressed almost every issue that someone might have with the game, allowing the player to have the greatest satisfaction in the game.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the fifth major game in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing franchise. In the seven years since the US release of the previous edition, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Nintendo has invested a vast amount of time, resources, and money to create a masterpiece. Compared to its predecessors, the graphics in the latest addition to the Animal Crossing series have improved immensely, partly due to the higher computational power of the Nintendo Switch.
Not only has the animation become seamless, but the gameplay also forges a path for endless creativity. With each subsequent release, Nintendo provides increasing freedom for players to customize their space. For the first time in this series, Animal Crossing: New Horizons allows players to place items outside their house and transform the terrain. This upgrade comes at a steep price of $59.99. Even though this appears to be a big jump from Animal Crossing: New Leaf’s $34.99, these are standard prices for Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS games, respectively. However, despite the fact that $59.99 is not uncommon for exceptional, highly-rated video games such as this one, some avid Animal Crossing fans might not be able to afford to explore the wonders of this island paradise.