Animal Crossing: New Horizons review – a welcome escape at the perfect time

Animal Crossing: New Horizons review – a welcome escape at the perfect time
The customisation and decor alterations are the game’s crowning achievement

While none of us want to be stuck indoors, the release of the hotly anticipated Animal Crossing game for Nintendo Switch could not have come at a better time. After all, if you can’t live life to the full a life, simulation is the next best thing.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (ACNH) is the fifth instalment in the hit series and, as in previous games, it is a life simulation, played in real-time.

There are a vast array of customisation options available as you take your character to a deserted island, after purchasing a deserted island package from Tom Nook – a tanuki character who is a staple of the series.

What happens in the game?

ACNH is completely open-ended, and you are free to explore to your hearts content – something none of us can do in real life at the moment.

As you progress you develop the island into a community of anthropomorphic animals and you can collect different items to use as decorations within the game. Like the 2017 spin-off title, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, ACNH introduces a crafting system that allows the player to convert materials into tools and furniture, which can then be used to decorate the game’s interior and exterior spaces.

Nook Miles, a new in-game currency earned by completing various tasks, can be used to purchase premium items. Players are able to invite animals to live on their island, and have the option to choose or influence where the animal constructs their home.

The game’s weather also adjusts to the seasons of the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, depending on the player’s real-world location. This is a first for the Animal Crossing series, as is the addition of windy weather.

The daily tasks loop and Nook Miles system add a new layer of satisfaction for players, and it all feels natural, none of it forced.

Does it live up to expectations?

ACNH has been met with widespread critical acclaim – and it’s easy to see why.

The customisation and decor alterations are the game’s crowning achievement, while the villagers you encounter are dripping in charm, in typical Nintendo fashion.

Some fans felt Animal Crossing would find it tough to make the crossing to Switch. They said the same about Zelda, Super Mario and even (although I’m still not sure why) Pokemon. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. Animal Crossing is back – bigger, better and more polished than ever.

But, the best thing about ACNH is its constant treats and surprises, something which set Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey apart, too.

I’m only just scratching the surface, because custom islands from the gaming community, special events and changes in season beckon. There is a bit of grind actually unlocking your island in full, but – once you do – the world is literally your oyster.

It feels like Nintendo have done us all a solid by launching Animal Crossing New Horizons when it has. This game is certainly going to help take away the boredom blues for any gamers out there.

Out: Now
Rating: 9.5/10