Animal Crossing A different take

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Switch
Reviewed On: Switch
Release Date: 20/03/2020
Price: £49.99/$59.99
Reviewed By: Alex Laybourne
Review Rush was kindly supplied with a review code.

Essay

By now, everybody knows that Animal Crossing is a fun game. Everybody knows that it is a great game and has become one of the hottest selling games on the console. So what is the point so sitting here writing another review about its style and its gameplay? This isn’t the sort of title that will garner mixed reviews. Sure, there will be some that put it down or hate it, but there will be no inbetweeners

So, for this review, I wanted to try something a little different. So, to get the traditional out of the way.

This game looks beautiful, its cute and its happy and everything about it could be better summarized than, happy. The music is cheerful and upbeat and yes, while there is a storyline and you can technically complete the game, it doesn’t stop there, and in my mind, it isn’t really about that. 

Most games a story driven. Some do it much better than others, but even the dross is predominantly driven by some envisioned narrative and you complete the game by finishing this narrative. Yet Animal Crossing is different. 

Admittedly, I was something of an Animal Crossing virgin going into this. I’d dabbled before, maybe reached the mythical third base with the series, but had never really gone the whole way. 

Yet as soon as New Horizons was announced I knew I wanted to play this game. I pre-ordered it and got it delivered on launch day, despite everything that is going on in the world right now. With that as a good and unplanned segue, lets take a look at what makes Animal Crossing such a fun game. 

I think now, more than ever, the world needed a game like this. A game that offers you pure escapism. 

I know what you’re saying, all games offer escapism, and there are other similarly easy-going games out there that can help to pass the time during lock down. Yet that’s not it. To me, it’s not just about the game being a perfect chill out experience. 

Anybody reading this now will be well aware of the state of the world, and anybody reading this in the future will undoubtedly remember or have been told all about the 2020 pandemic that shook the world. An event that changed the lives of everybody on the planet in a way never before, seen. Hopefully, changes that can lead to a better way in the future.  So as we sit here, in a world that is alien to us, there is some sort of comfort that and degree of normalcy offered by escaping into Animal Crossing that has made it, in my mind, a pivotal component of this pandemic. 

A game where you must take out ever-increasing loans from greedy overlord and spend your time performing menial tasks in order to earn enough money to pay him back. Animal Crossing has always been an allegory for the life, but never before has it been so important to have a place like this we can escape into. To leave behind a world that belongs in fiction and enter a game that offers comfort in its everyday nature. 

As we find ourselves trapped indoors, even if for many gamers’ being a homebody is more the norm, being denied the ability to go out and catch bugs, pick flowers, fish, or visit friends, is tough to take, especially when thinking of it as a long term thing. For me, at least, being able to grab my switch and do all of this has not only provided the expected levels of relaxation but also helped me process and accept the new restrictions that have befallen us all. 

Waking up each day and playing out a virtual life in a time that mimics my own create a peaceful alternate dimension where I could go and mingle with friends, share adventures, play. Sure, it isn’t the same as being out there in the real world, but there is something to be said the positive effect the game has on combatting that deep-seated loneliness that lockdown can breed. 

Is Animal Crossing a good game? It sure is. It’s addictive and its fun, and whether you play it to escape, play it for the storyline or a bit of both, and carry on harvesting, fishing and catching bugs long into the future, there is something here for everybody. 

Undoubtedly a game of the year contender for me, that’s taken outside the extra context that makes this game so much more relevant right now.

Animal crossing Night