| 11.1°C Dublin

Animal Crossing - New Horizons review: Soothing antidote to pandemic panic

(Switch) ★★★★★ Age: 3+

Close

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Nioh 2

Nioh 2

/

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

The tumult thrown up by the coronavirus makes decamping to a deserted island suddenly seem awfully attractive. With fine timing, New Horizons relocates the Animal Crossing franchise to a small, near-empty parish of fertile ground surrounded by ocean.

As always, it then invites you to create a community by constructing the homes of your dreams, growing gardens, catching fish (lots and lots of fish) and chatting to would-be residents like an over-enthusiastic mayor. Indeed, that's largely how the game has played out since the series debuted in 2001.

This Switch edition, though, undoubtedly raises the ante, producing a life simulation - part Sims, part Farmville, part comedy show (no, really) - that's staggeringly deep and enduring. It unfolds its charms at a glacial pace, however - developments are often tied to the clock in the real world - so stock up on your reserves of patience.

Farming for resources (wood, stone, fish, insects, etc) forms a core loop of fairly mindless busywork but the rewards soon begin to stack up as you learn to craft better items. Make an axe to mine stone and chop trees to fashion a shovel. Use the shovel to dig the earth for other minerals to build new tools. And so on.

You need a Nintendo online subscription (€20 a year) to get the best of New Horizons - such as visiting other players' islands - and even then the multiplayer options feel underdeveloped.

But Animal Crossing is so engrossing and genuinely funny that it might just get you through the pandemic panic.


Nioh 2

(PS4) ★★★★ Age: 18+

Close

Nioh 2

Nioh 2

Nioh 2

The original Nioh paid serious homage to the notoriously challenging Dark Souls hack'n'slash series, layering on a coating of feudal Japanese mythology. This follow-up exists in an echo chamber that apes not just Dark Souls but itself.

With some noticeable recycling and a degree of bloating, Nioh 2 doesn't do itself any favours. It would be a shame if that blighted its sales because when Nioh 2 is good, it's very, very good - grotesque enemies, inventive landscape design and interesting super abilities.

It can be hugely demanding but very satisfying, at least until the next bout of déjà vu.


Indo Review