An Island Escape in the Time of Pandemic

Maxin’ relaxin’ all cool
Maxin’ relaxin’ all cool
Screenshot: Joe Jurado

So shit is kind of crazy at the moment. Disease is rapidly spreading throughout the country. Those of us who are lucky enough to not be sick are spending the majority of our time at home, separated from the people we care about. In such a trying time an unlikely beacon of joy has emerged with Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

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For those unaware, Animal Crossing is a long-running video game series in which you, the villager, arrive in a new town populated by adorable animals. The game is unique in that the in-game clock and calendar reflect the real world, so days and seasons change in real-time. After getting a home loan from raccoon salesman Tom Nook, you’re essentially left to your own devices.

The game is a life simulator that imagines a world where bill collectors have an incredible amount of chill. Tom Nook wants his money but he ain’t pressing you about it. You’ll get it to him when you get it to him.

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Tom Nook, Chillest Landlord
Tom Nook, Chillest Landlord
Screenshot: Joe Jurado

In the meantime, focus on hitting it off with your adorable neighbors. Go fishing or collect fossils for your island’s museum. Design the most impeccable crib. Basically, do you. New Horizons expands its focus to allow you to design an island. Right now, my island is pretty modest. I got my house, started work on a shop and put the museum up. I put out a smoker in front of my house in case the crew wants to have a cookout. It’s a work in progress, but it’s my work in progress.

I’ve long been an unapologetic Animal Crossing stan. Your boy pre-ordered the limited edition Animal Crossing Switch the second it went live. I am ‘bout that island life. Its slower pace and peaceful ambiance make it a nice counterbalance to the shooters, fighting games and RPGs (roleplaying games) that make up my gaming diet. Animal Crossing typically worked as a supplemental game for me, something I’d play between games or to make myself feel better after getting straight stomped playing fighting games online.

I didn’t think it would take a pandemic for it to happen but Animal Crossing has now become my main game.

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Searching for Oarfish
Searching for Oarfish
Screenshot: Joe Jurado

That slow pace and peaceful ambiance I mentioned earlier has provided an invaluable time sink these last few days. I hate fishing in real life but Animal Crossing has got me thinking that I am the Bassmaster. I know nothing about interior design but damn if I don’t feel like Frank Lloyd Wright any time I rearrange my furniture. The game’s focus on just doing normal shit has been a relief, given that things are decidedly not normal at the moment. The adorable art style, calming music and core systems all combine to create an almost hypnotic effect that allows you to just get lost in its world.

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The game has also become a bonding mechanism between me and my friends. We can’t physically hang out at the moment for obvious reasons, but we’ve been visiting each other’s islands, sharing resources and updating each other with our accomplishments. One of my friends, who I won’t name, had us dead when he thought he could plant a tree by burying a branch. The game has given us a way to share an experience together and most importantly, continue to roast the shit out of our friend for being a dumbass. Seriously my guy, like what science were you using?

Real Lumberjack Hours
Real Lumberjack Hours
Screenshot: Joe Jurado
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Video games often provide an escape for those who play them. Whether it’s thinking you’re the baddest ass on the battlefield in Call of Duty, becoming a righteous avenger in Persona 5 or just trying to recreate Heat in GTA Online, games allow you to live whatever fantasy you’d like. Right now, Animal Crossing: New Horizons provides a fantasy based on the mundane. If you have a Switch and the ability to cop it, you should give the game a go. You might find that the fantasy it’s offering is the exact one you need right now.

Jr Staff Writer @TheRoot. Watcher of wrestling, player of video games. Mr. Steal Your Disney+ Password.

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DISCUSSION

manicotti
Manic Otti

What’s the closest PC or non switch equivalent of this?