Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review

I wasn’t going to write a review of this game; I mean, how could I? Is it even possible to review a game that has no end? That is experiential and follows real-time? It’s impossible, but I did want talk about Animal Crossing: New Horizons in some form. So, consider this more of a “first impressions” rather than a full-fledged, extensive review. I am currently in day 5 since the conception of my island, appropriately named Hilo after a town in Hawaii I was fortunate enough to vacation at. There has been a lot of progression even now, looking back on all I have accomplished in these very short days. And that is something I would like to highlight. This new entry in the Animal Crossing franchise has a steady stream of progression at every turn, and you will rarely find naught to be done.

If you have played an Animal Crossing before, you already know how inexplicably fun and addictive these games are. Where else are you given what are essentially chores, that deliver a lot of fun and relaxation. There was no perfect time to release New Horizons than in this age of uncertainty, where many people are in lockdown or self-isolation. Instead of going about your daily routines, the hustle and bustle of everyday capitalist life, and striving for financial comfort; you are now tasked with staying home, which is for the betterment of all humanity. You are literally saving lives by hunkering down in a warm-knit blanket, sipping a morning coffee as you escape to this fairytale island. And oh, what an escape this is. You will develop new routines, as in-game tasks open up to you and must be completed. It is the perfect distraction to what may otherwise have serious ramifications on the mental health of many individuals. Timing could not be any better.

The game revolves around a character whom you create at the onset. You are offered an Island Getaway Package that entails moving to a secluded island with two other anthropomorphic strangers. In your time here you will create relationships with your brand-new villager companions, newcomers, and in-real-life friends who have also chosen to purchase the game. This game is an experience and can only be described as a life-simulation; however, it is much more than that when you consider all it has to offer. Tom Nook of Resident Services sends you on your way with direction to locate a spot you can see yourself settling down in. Once this is completed you are given the choice of where your villager companions can set up shop. You eventually learn how to craft your own furniture and tools, send letters, and visit other islands in your journey to collect everything and expand your horizons. In all honesty, the game must be experienced for a better idea of what it’s all about.

The graphical fidelity is far beyond anything we have seen in previous entries. Everything looks clean, polished, and all around impressive in its child-friendly, cartoonish style. The new improvements are evident in the items you collect, the wildlife you capture, and the trees. Oh my god, THE TREES. The leaves rustle in the wind and fall from the branches when the trunk is shaken. Minor details, yes, but they go a long way in making an experience that is both immersive and charming at the same time. And this game drips in charm. The music has had an overhaul, sounding more fluent and pleasing to the ears than in previous years. The islanders all speak in their signature language that consists of each individual phoneme interlocking and strung out quickly. It is incredibly charming, albeit seemingly annoying to people on the outside looking in.

When it comes to replay value, the randomly generated worlds and character appearances make this game incredibly enjoyable to start anew. In a game that demands progression, even at your own pace, I don’t see why anyone would want to restart though. Of course the game can be replayed ad infinitum and still be enjoyable, but the real treasure here is in the constant progress that is made in the development of this deserted island and the relationships you build with the various characters. It is compelling to continue to progress, and therefore draws the player back in at the turn of each day. It is not only replayable in the sense that you can restart from scratch and still have a good time, but that the player is compelled to advance in the game, day after day, for the rest of eternity should they so wish.

My first impressions of Animal Crossing: New Horizons is that it is the definitive entry to date, and any longtime fan will find an endless amount of content to enjoy here. Newcomers to the series are also likely to enjoy themselves if they are looking for an escape from the dark times we are living in now. This time will pass, and there is no better way to pass the time than with Animal Crossing.

Sound: 5/5

Gameplay: 5/5

Story: 4/5

Graphics: 5/5

Replay Value: 5/5

Total: 24/25 or 96/100

Note: I have only completed 5 days of the game (I am no time traveler), so the number score may not reflect the actual quality of the game going forward; however, I have unabashedly sunk around 20 hours into the game so far (that’s the self-isolation life for you) and am an adherent that this is more than enough time to offer my opinion.

My Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of 2020

With 2020 around the corner it’s time to get hyped about new games scheduled to release within the year. With games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Ori and the Will of the Wisps marked in my calendar, it’s shaping up to be a very good year for video games. I’m tackling a very difficult question today. What should I spend my money on in 2020? If your answer is food and utilities, you’re wrong. Games, games, and more games are on my wishlist. So while I’m huddled around a garbage can fire with some of my besties, eating cold beans out of a can, you can bet I’ll be dreaming of the games in this list, trying to stay warm through happy thoughts alone. This is my top 5 most anticipated games of 2020! In order to make the cut, the game must have a definitive release date. So while I’m hopeful for a Metroid Prime 4 release this upcoming year, I’m reserving games like that for another topic. Here it is folks, coming to you live from the toaster I found while dumpster diving the other day, my top 5 most anticipated games of 2020.

5. Marvel’s Avengers. Release date: May 15, 2020

I am a huge superhero fan, largely inspired by the efforts of Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe. I’m actually a bigger fan of DC so you can throw tomatoes at my head throughout the rest of these ramblings. Regardless, I love Marvel superheroes so I was ecstatic when I heard there was going to be a full length game incorporating a killer line-up of Avengers characters. Sure, we had Ultimate Alliance, and while that was some mindless fun, a large scale superhero story is what I craved. Developed by Crystal Dynamics, the people behind those incredible Tomb Raider games, Marvel’s Avengers could conceivably be a contender for next year’s GoTY. It’s being published by Square Enix who are often involved in some quality projects, so I’m holding my breath for this one. If for no other reason than the possible ability to fly around as Iron Man. Bring it on Crystal Dynamics!

4. Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Release date: February 11, 2020

Ori and the Blind Forest was an amazing game with an excellent art direction. There were moments where my eyes watered to the point that I had to stand in the rain to hide my emotions from my girlfriend’s judging gaze. From the opening moments, that game tugged at the heartstrings of many who were fortunate enough to experience it. There is no doubt that the sequel will be just as powerful. With what is sure to be some quality of life improvements to gameplay that we’ve already seen, Ori will once again venture out into the world, traversing beautiful landscapes and fighting enemies using new abilities. From the trailer that was shown at E3 2019, we can see that this time around we will be facing huge enemies that cover a large portion of the screen. It appears that this new iteration will put weapons in Ori’s hands, like a bow, sword, and hammer among other things. With these new improvements to combat and movement, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is sure to be as fun (if not more so) as it’s predecessor. I’m waiting on this one with the excitement of a child waiting for Christmas in December.

3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Release date: March 20, 2020

I don’t know what it is about this franchise that makes me so giddy. Animal Crossing is essentially a town simulation and collectathon, and while those two things sound really boring, Nintendo makes it work somehow. This time around you’re on a deserted island as a certain sketchy raccoon convinces you (no doubt for monetary reasons) that this is the place to be. His goal is for you to be forever indebted to Nook inc. and should you not make payments in a timely manner, he will likely break your legs. From what we saw in the latest Nintendo Direct, it seems there are a plethora of new features to make life on the island much more bearable. One thing I’m excited about is the ability to make paths without having to lay down patterns. There’s a tool for that now! Another feature is the pole vaulting over rivers that probably warrants a gold medal at the Animolympics. I am super excited for this title; I played a lot of Animal Crossing (Gamecube) when I was a kid and have continued to play New Leaf into adulthood. There is no way I’m missing out on this one.

2. Cyberpunk 2077. Release date: April 16, 2020

I honestly don’t know much about Cyberpunk 2077 aside from what was shown in the cinematic trailer. It’s futuristic, cyborg sword arms and self-driving cars (we’re so close Elon!) make this game look soooo badass. Not to mention THE Keanu Reeves has a starring role in the game. That’s right, the nicest man on earth is involved with Cyberpunk, and it’s breathtaking. He is sure to add some star power and great acting to the project, which already looks to be something to talk about. All this coming from CD Projekt Red, the developers of one of the greatest games of the decade, the Witcher 3. With developers like this, it’s sure to be a high quality release. Obviously I’m jumping to conclusions, but can you blame me? The hype surrounding this title is the most I’ve seen in many years, so let’s hope the game lives up to it.

1. Resident Evil 3. Release date: April 3, 2020

The top spot on this list comes as no surprise to those of you who saw the number one game on My Top 5 Games of 2019. Resident Evil 3 will use many of the same assets as its predecessor, and if the Resident Evil 2 remake is any indication of the quality of this newer release, we’re in for a treat. I never had the chance to play Nemesis when it released way back in the day, but that only fuels my desire to play this remake. I thought Mr. X was the scariest thing on this planet, but move over big guy, because the Nemesis is busting through ceilings in search of S.T.A.R.S. members, who you unfortunately play as. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Resident Evil narrative, as laughable as some voice acting makes it out to be. The mansion incident, followed by a larger scale outbreak and the fears that accompany it just feels so (and forgive me for using this horrible, terrible, garbage word) EPIC! I just can’t wait for RE3 and April can’t come soon enough.

And that wraps up my list of games I absolutely need in my library this upcoming year. 2020 is bound to be a banger in the video game world. All the games listed above are coming out in just the first half of the year, which says a lot about how incredible 2020 is shaping up to be. There are many great titles that haven’t been mentioned, and such is the case when narrowing the lineup down to only 5 games. I’m curious though. What games are you most looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!