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Animal Crossing New Horizons: Blissful Escapism

For the Bedford High School community, these are perilous times indeed. The same is true for the world at large; the spread of COVID-19 has made for quite the anxiety-inducing climate. For myself in particular, when going on drives alone – so as to practice social isolation responsibly – it is very eerie to see this town so empty. I, for one, have been awfully stressed out by this pandemic, and I think I speak on behalf of all humanity with that one. Even so, I hope all of our Unleashed readers are safe and doing well.

Now, in this article, let us turn away from this frightening reality. Allow me to immerse you into an undeniably safe and tranquil place – that is, the digital world of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

What I love most about this game is its calming atmosphere. The trees sway, animated by a slight breeze, the ambient music is soft and lighthearted. Bugs sit on tree trunks, water gently flows. New Horizons is seemingly engineered to make the player simply enjoy existence in such a pleasant universe.

The game doesn’t have a set goal beyond repaying debts the player accumulates from Tom Nook, the owner of the island. Nook has appeared in all of the past Animal Crossing games, and he appears in even more memes made by fans of the franchise. In this particular game, he offers house loans to allow the player to live luxuriously. I, myself, have a lovely home with a pink roof. However, with it, a whole lot of debt. Nonetheless, that was my choice, and I respect Mr. Nook for his hustle.

In any case, whether one accumulates debt or not is ultimately the player’s choice. This leaves a lot of room for simply exploring, and existing, in Animal Crossing. The game rewards the player for preforming certain activities – such as gardening, fishing, or catching critters. There are two forms of currency – Nook Miles, and Bells. Nook Miles are granted when players complete tasks, whereas Bells are gained from selling goods. I have become an avid fisher in attempt to pay my dues. Here is my character with her proudest catch:Pictured here is my player character, Jenny <3, in her awesome house, showing off her Oarfish. Lots of Animal Crossing fish are based off of real-life breeds – IRL Oarfish can be up to fifty feet long!

Excitingly, as one progresses in the game, players can visit other islands. Whether these islands are randomly generated, there for the player to travel to if they need resources, or occupied by other players – your character can certainly get around! That’s right, New Horizons has online multiplayer – you can visit your friends on their islands, or invite them to yours.

However, the game is not so kind to players who use the same Nintendo Switch to play Animal Crossing. Here comes my one and only critique of the game so far: seemingly to convince consumers to buy another Switch instead of sharing, Nintendo has made it so players on the same Switch must share an island. The second player cannot choose the layout of a new island, they are simply stuck on the existing one. As such, if Player One takes all of the resources on the island before player two hops on, well, Player Two is simply out of luck. However, this slightly irritating detail, in my humble opinion, is not enough to warrant not trying the game out. If you are willing to pay that sixty dollar fee, it is a wonderful piece of escapism with lots to do.

Jenny <3 showing off her Paper Kite Butterfly shown up there. To wrap up, I want to discuss one feature of the game that I have had a whole lot of fun with. That is, the design feature – using an almost MS-Paint like interface, players can use a range of colors and tools to create custom clothing, face paints, or wall decorations. It’s awesome! My character’s little heart cheeks are a work of my own. I absolutely adore this cute little game, and I’d encourage anyone to purchase it. We need happy things now more than ever, and I think Animal Crossings: New Horizons is just what the doctor ordered.