Tommy Carrico

Did that pesky Coronavirus cancel your spring break plans? Fear not. The new installment of “Animal Crossing” is here to take you to a deserted tropical island filled with bugs and fish to catch, flowers to grow, homes to decorate and friendly villagers to interact with sans the risk of contracting an upper respiratory infection.


For those who are used to games with a distinct way to progress from point A to point B, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” can be a little off-putting at first. There are no levels, checkpoints or monstrous bosses to fight; the only monster here is the crippling debt that the player receives upon starting their new life on the island. But again, fear not — Tom Nook, the man in charge, doesn’t charge interest. 


What’s so refreshing, but perhaps difficult, about “New Horizons” is the fact that it can be played at one’s leisure. There’s never a true stopping point; nobody really tells the player what to do. The player is left to do whatever they want from the get-go; collecting local wildlife, donating fossils, crafting tools, customizing furniture, gardening and earning money are just some of the random activities that players are able to choose from. Within the first five minutes of the game, the player is allowed to name the island and designate where all of its inhabitants should live. 


“New Horizons” isn’t the kind of game one plays for hours until beating a final level or until it gets boring. It plays out day-to-day in real time, introducing something new for the player to explore almost every day. Some fish can only be caught in certain months; some bugs only come out at night. These may not be brand-new mechanics, but “New Horizons” masters them, bringing the game to life more than any game of similar style. 


Much like other “Animal Crossing” games, this one is all about something a little too absent in the modern gaming scene: relaxation. A soft, ambient guitar melody drifts in and out like the wind, and the stakes are never too high. While this does not grant the same satisfaction as a victory in a shooter or platformer, it also comes without that raised blood pressure. 


And in a time when we already have enough anxiety in real life, it’s the simple things that make “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” exactly what some of us need.