Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out at the perfect time. OK, well, the perfect time for people who wanted to play Animal Crossing. Generally, humanity was not “having a good one” in March of 2020. Covid-19 was ramping up, and most countries were days away from facing lockdown. For many, the idea was abject misery. No friends, no parties, no social events, trapped indoors with just family or housemates for company. Truly an extroverts worst nightmare. Well, guess what, idiots?
A game had just been released where the impossible was possible. You could escape to an island paradise populated by adorable, anthropomorphic animals. The island itself could be bent to your whims, reshaped from a deserted fixer-upper to a pristine tropical getaway. You could even pay off your home loan in small, easy to swallow instalments! Now I KNOW we’re in a fantasy land.
But, for many (myself included) we flew too close to the sun. Burned too hot, too bright. The allure of the quaint fantastical getaway of Sandypeach island (it has sand and peaches, you see) slowly began to lose it’s lustre. That happens when you’re playing a game almost non-stop for upwards of 3 months. The game was clearly designed for daily, manageable goals, and when you hit all of those in the first 30 minutes of playing for the day you can feel the burnout start to chafe.
I personally dropped the game around that time, only logging on again for the occasional seasonal event, new years hullabaloo or social occasion (I will NEVER miss Shari’s birthday) and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Please don’t @ me if you’re one of the people who never stopped playing and have millions of nook miles funded by your dark web Raymond trading ring. For those of us who had thrown in the towel, the party was over.
Until recently! The holiday I booked off work to play Return to Monkey Island afforded me a chance to see what my furry friends had been up to, and I’ve kinda fallen in love with the place again. I had forgotten the joy of just… turning my brain completely off for an hour or so, reading the little conversations you can have with your imaginary friends, digging up fossils, decorating the place to the nines, and trying to get that fucking ape Peewee to leave the island and never come back because I hate him.
It’s pathetic (oops, my life coach told me not to use that word. Sorry Doug) but returning to Sandypeach has reintroduced a bit of structure to my day, and I was amazed and the positive effect it had on my mental health. I feel relaxed and re-energized. I come home after a hard days work, and my silly little friends on my silly little make-believe island are waiting for me again. And for the next 40 minutes, we are gonna chill the fuck out. Try and stop us.