Animal Crossing: New Horizons - A Horror-filled Experience Where You’re Trapped On An Island With A Greedy Capitalist
It all started at the airport.
My first day in hell. I was greeted by two raccoons who resembled the picture of Ciara-husband and quarterback-of-The-Seattle-Seahawks-too-I-guess Russell Wilson in a Hawaiian shirt.
I was desperate. I wanted to get away. Between COVID-19, the election year causing everyone’s brain to turn into mush, and trigger-happy police in America, a deserted island seemed like a good idea.
Perhaps it only seemed like one.
The two raccoon assholes pretended to have to look really hard to find my information in their airport database. After taking my picture and probably sending it to the every police station across the country, we departed for the deserted island.
As one of the twin raccoon children referred to their great “fearless leader” my heart sank further than it already did initially when they made 9/11 jokes on the plane. Is this some type of cult? What awaits me in this lawless land?
I met him. The “fearless leader.” The man who would change my life forever. Tom Nook: one of the biggest capitalists in history. A man who rivals Henry Ford in both economic sway and bigotry. A man cut from the same cloth as Jeff Bezos. A man who probably has debated about Atlas Shrugged on message boards on the internet for years.
As me and two other animal but human creatures settled in, we were all called to the center of the island to discuss our fates. Nook gave labor assignments to everyone, including himself. While we gathered sticks and picked weeds, his own assignment would be inspecting the fruit on the island to confirm if they are cherries or not.
This fruit. He’s inspecting this to see if it’s a cherry or not. Clearly you have to work REALLY FUCKING HARD TO FIGURE THAT INFORMATION OUT. It’s as hard as PICKING UP A BUNCH OF STICKS USED TO BUILD THINGS.
Getting over my intelligence and dignity being brutally insulted, I returned to our Ayn Randian-libertarian overlord with the supplies as I was instructed. To make me feel like I’m in control, he asked me to name our island. I found it to be an empty gesture that was meaningless in the grand scheme similar to the many companies in the United States that underpay black workers but shout “black lives matter” from the top of their lungs.
It’s all an illusion to quell unrest and dissent.
Moving on though, I decided to name our island after the Outkast album, Stankonia. A powerful name, if I say so myself.
After more empty bullshit dialogue from Tom Crook, I was given the task of choosing where all of our houses would be built — a task I completed with great success. Much of the island was inaccessible and beyond our reach, but I had no strong urges to explore beyond our initial space any way, as I needed to keep my eyes on every one else, who was not trustworthy in any form.
As I slept and a new day approached, Tom Nook informed me that I was now indebted to him for the house. Something that wasn’t agreed on when he gave it to me initially. Something completely immoral, but it was expected. I knew a man who raved about free markets as much as him wouldn’t be fair.
More days passed. I learned many new skills. I crafted an axe, a net, a fishing rod, and many other tools. I also began building houses. I felt complicit. I was building houses for more people to be subjected to the capitalist hell I was suffering through. But at the same time, I needed allies. The majority will eventually rule and we will rise up against our oppressive overlords.
As of now, I have grown accustomed to our dystopian island.
I fit in now. Everyone on the island loves me. And I will eventually use that influence to slay Tom Nook and free everyone of our excessive debt.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the latest installment of the Animal Crossing franchise. If you’re unfamiliar, think of it as something like The Sims. After many delays and hype, the game dropped at a time where everyone probably needed it most: during the beginning of the current pandemic.
For the most part, it’s a rather simple game. You build furniture, do some humble farming, talk to your neighbors, catch bugs and other creatures, go fishing, and sometimes do rather minor quests that randomly happen on your island.
Its simplicity is probably its strongest selling point. While I think there is room for improvement on say, the really repetitive and simple dialogue between you and the villagers or the random dry events, keeping the game simple allows a level of accessibility that I rarely see with other console video games. I see a lot of people talking about their parents playing or showing interest in the game, and a lot of people who you wouldn’t classify as “gamer” clocking hours and hours into it.
Being able to bring together a diverse set of people like that — during a pandemic at that — is not only impressive, but it’s honestly important right now. And to an extent, I think Nintendo intended for that aspect of this game. While everyone is physically on an island, the game heavily incentivizes connecting with your friends and family, as it’s the only way you’re going to get certain fruit or certain furniture that you may desperately want.
And while the game is pretty simple mechanically, there is a lot of stuff to collect in it. I’m currently working on a kitchen-bathroom combo room (working process, pictured above,) because sometimes you have to shower and cook a nice meal at the same time.
It’s fun to go to a friend’s island and run around in circles or spam emotes at each other. The way you buy turnips for low and ask friends or people in your network how high they sell on their islands creates this sense of comradery that I think is interesting and powerful right now.
It’s hard to truly pitch Animal Crossing to someone, and I’m not sure if it would actually be everyone’s cup of tea. Especially if you’re seeing other people talk about it. Everyone’s like “just paid off my loan of 1 million dollars. Whew!” and you might just be like “what the fuck. this game sounds terrifyingly like real life.” And it’s like, yeah. The game does inflict slavery on you sometimes, but there’s something charming about putting in a solid amount of work in this game and showing off a monstrosity of a room — like a bathroom-kitchen — to your friends.
So if any of that sounds intriguing to you, go ahead and get the game, play with some friends. Look into the different Animal Crossing communities, check out the fan-submitted clothing designs you can apply to your game, discover weird Isabelle fanart, and most importantly, as with any game, have fun.