REVIEW: ‘Animal Crossing’ undoubtedly the comfiest game you’ll play all year


Screenshot of “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” which was released Friday.

Restaurants are closed, theaters are closed, bars are closed, and now we’re under orders from the county to stay inside. Now more than ever, it feels like we need a vacation. 

Luckily, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” was released Friday and is here to whisk away quarantined gaming enthusiasts to their very own island getaway.

The newest entry to Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing” series see’s you back at it again, helping all the anthropomorphic animal villagers, playing with friends, and being driven into debt by Tom Nook. But this time, you have a whole island to manage.

If you’re new to the “Animal Crossing” franchise, all you need to know is that, like “Seinfeld,” it’s about nothing.

No game over screens, no races against time, no overly complicated controls, no competitions, no loot boxes or microtransactions — just simple living on an island full of animals.

“New Horizons” is like a life simulator — if your life was that of a 12-year-old in the middle of nowhere. You can catch fish and bugs, chop down trees, plant a garden, rack up a massive amount of debt after buying a house, collect fossils, talk to your neighbors way too much, and watch the night sky for shooting stars.

Now all that might not sound as fun as ripping and tearing through demons in “Doom Eternal,” which was released on the same day, but there’s something enjoyable about the simplistic nature of Animal Crossing. It’s like a cool glass of water after a six-hour bender culminating in the theft of three traffic cones.

For a game that’s about nothing, there’s actually quite a bit for players to do, and I’m not talking about the grindfest that is fossil hunting, bug collecting, fishing, and flirting with villagers.

There’s a new crafting system that adds a little more to the supply gathering mechanics.

The design system gives players license to let their freak flag fly and show their creative side. Some players have already started making this children’s game into a nightmare straight from a Stephen King novel.

The online play gives players a chance to meet up with friends and show off their island, which is great for a socially distant America. One couple even used the in-game museum as a date spot while in quarantine.

However, as much as “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” may seem like a paradise, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.

If grinding is an endless source of frustration for you that leads to a few holes in your wall, then probably don’t pick up this game — also talk to somebody about that anger issue — because all that bug-catching and fishing can be a bit laborious.

The real-life day/night cycle really slows down progress in the game, so you won’t even have the whole museum until day three.

But aside from the constant grinding, the slowed progress, and Tom Nook’s condescending smirk as he puts you further into debt, there’s very little to get mad at this game — it even allows the use of swearing. It’s a cute, simple, and a relaxing time alone or with friends.

Four tanukis out of five, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is undoubtedly the comfiest games you will play all year.