Animal Crossing New Horizon’s adorable setting, unique characters, and quaint activities have garnered it a die-hard audience of players who, to this day, see it as the pinnacle cozy gaming experience, but I’ve never understood why.
Animal Crossing New Horizons first appeared on my radar over COVID after I had watched every TV show Netflix had on offer, and I had played through my entire Steam library at least twice. Finally, all that was left was to fire up the old Nintendo Switch OLED and see what games I could find that piqued my interest.
After much deliberation and some excited texts from friends, I decided to see what everyone was talking about and dive into Animal Crossing New Horizons. I plugged my OLED into its dock and began my adventure playing on the TV while sprawled on my sofa. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed with my experience; it definitely didn't make my best Switch games list. The slow pace of Animal Crossing New Horizons meant I spent more time looking at Instagram than my loveable islanders, and I often forgot what task I was working towards.
There’s also a lot of patience needed for Animal Crossing, something I notoriously have very little of. Waiting days for museums and bridges to be built meant I quickly lost interest in logging back on to finish what I had started. The final nail in the coffin was when I accidentally built a house in the wrong spot and subsequently found out it would take a truckload of money and time to move.
A changed person
Fast forward two years, and I am locked away in my room due to illness again. While it’s not COVID, my condition means that, at the time, movement was pretty restricted. In this hour (or week) of darkness, I reached out to my OLED for a reprieve and stumbled upon Animal Crossing once more.
With nothing else to do and nowhere to go, I deleted my previous Animal Crossing save file and started again from scratch. Maybe it was the antibiotics or the painkillers, but for the first time ever, I enjoyed my time in this cozy island getaway.
My brain couldn’t work very fast, and I could only play for short periods of time, but it turned out that this was the making of my island adventure. These restrictions meant I was forced to play Animal Crossing at the right starting speed. Wandering around windy orchards and quietly fishing by the sea while I waited for the starter buildings to complete was a welcome change of pace and one I enjoyed immensely.
As I gained strength and was able to play for longer, I found that more and more activities were unlocked for me to complete. My island grew slowly and steadily, and after only a week, I had achieved more in my little island than ever before.
Now, I have six happy islanders, a bustling museum, some beautiful infrastructure, a quaint little shop, and, of course, the grand town hall. While this may not seem like a lot to veterans of the game, it’s enough for me for the time being. In the future, I’ll keep working carefully and slowly and see what else my island is capable of.
Needless to say, being seriously ill leaves very little to be desired, but I’m still happy I was able to find a silver lining. Even now that I’ve recovered for a short time, I’m still enjoying my small island outings whenever I have a moment of downtime. Hopefully, my newfound love for Animal Crossing New Horizons will stay with me for the good times and be there for me when things take a turn for the worse again. As long as I remember to weed.
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Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications.
Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.