This is my first Animal Crossing game, downloaded from the Nintendo eShop. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this game, perhaps something along the lines of the classic Harvest Moon and the more recent wonder, Stardew Valley.
From what I’ve gathered reading about previous Animal Crossing games, you, the player is new to town, and you begin to build your life. New Horizons takes this toward a new direction by taking away the entire village, stranding you in the middle of nowhere, and it is your quest to make it habitable.
So it is something of a mix of different Sim titles and Stardew Valley. In those games, I’ve had the feeling of urgency, to make things work on the get-go, especially in Stardew Valley where I try to make the best of the day by doing as much work possible while maintaining some modicum of social life.
In Animal Crossing there is an absence of that urgency. You work your way around the island, building however you want it to be built: A sea of forests or an entire township. You start with a tent as your resting spot and eventually you can move out to a house, which you can decorate and paint. You can build roads and plant trees, or, you can go by the lake and fish.
I think the lack of urgency here stems from the lack of a “main goal.” In most games, you’d get a laundry list of do this or that. In New Horizons, you don’t get any of that. You’re free to wander around the island as you please, making friends, build houses and furniture. It’s a pretty chill game.
Game environments are well presented and details. When a critter climbs out of a hole, you can see every pixel on it, building furniture is dynamic. These things are small and doesn’t add up to the game play experience, but it helps support the immersion.
Obviously, Animal Crossing isn’t a game meant for everyone. It’s relaxing and chill. It’s a wild contrast to the hyper-violent Doom Eternal that also happened to just come out recently. Animal Crossing is like tending to a garden meant to put people at peace.