Trapped, Desperate, and in Love – The Dark Reality of Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Congrats to everyone who made it through egg day, but I’ve had to deal with a lot worse.

That isn’t to say there haven’t been some wonderful moments in my time so far with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but my island feels like an episode of Big Brother mixed with Survivor. Tension is high, my pockets are overflowing with wild fruit and it’s impossible to find the turnip lady on Sundays among my huge forest of lush trees.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons hopped into so many people’s lives on March 20th, and it arrived at the perfect time. We were all craving a little relaxation and tranquillity after the first couple weeks of March proved to be challenging, dangerous and heartbreaking. The piles of Tik Toks and YouTube videos of John Krasinski telling us good news just wasn’t enough. We needed more. And Nintendo was there to deliver.

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Yesterday – the name of my island – started out as any good story does: with a few lone people looking for a new adventure. I received an island getaway package for the low, low price of free – or so I thought. And as I boarded the boat to the island with a koala named Canberra, who I can only assume had just escaped the Australian wildfires, and a rhino named Tank on the run from poachers, we jumped from the vessel and landed gracefully on the beach.

Money hungry raccoons force us to buy their products.

With only the clothes on our backs, Tom Nook and young twins Timmy and Tommy awarded us tents and a few small luxuries like a lantern, radio and cot. My stomach rumbled as the boat trip had been a long one. I shook fruit from a nearby tree and sure enough I found an edible item known to some as a pear.

I consumed the fruit, suddenly finding myself overcome with new energy and began chopping at the trees around me to make room for senseless items such as a children’s elephant slide and a race car bed. Hell, I didn’t care that these items were hideous; they were mine and no one could take them away from me.

I showed up at the Yesterday Welcome Committee Meeting. Turns out it was just me.

And then Tom Nook approached my tent to tell me that the getaway package actually wasn’t free; the cost of everything would be upwards of 50,000 bells. That’s when I knew. The real enemy on this island wasn’t the wilderness that threatened to kill me or the hardened wild animals I was being forced to live with. It was that raccoon-in-clothing they call Thomas Nook. Money hungry and devilishly clever.

It didn’t take long before I realised I had made a huge mistake coming to Yesterday, but what could I do? I was in debt to a damned raccoon and I only had 57 pears, an elephant slide, two Nintendo Switches, a lantern and a race car bed to my name. I had to recruit more islanders. I hated the idea of forcing more people to come to this hell, but in the end I had no choice.

My friend Eric and I celebrating “Egg Day.” Not pictured: Zipper T. Bunny with a gun pointed at us.

I started my mission by flying to other islands and finding others that were as lost as I was. I was surprised that Tom would let me leave the island at all, but he had the roughest, toughest dodo birds I’ve ever seen to watch me and make sure I didn’t try anything funny. I invited a nice mouse named Anicotti and a few others. Tom made me work day and night to build their houses and their furniture for them and then grin and bear it when they moved in. I’m pretty good at pretending and showered them with gifts and kind words.

It didn’t take long before I realised that Anicotti must be working for Tom. She was an awful person. In return, I made her time on the island a living hell and beat her with my bug net until she got so fed up that she moved away. Not long after, Fauna moved in to take her place. Fauna is an adorable deer who calls everyone “dearie” and couldn’t possibly be working for Tom. On her first day on the island she gifted me an umbrella even though we hadn’t seen even a droplet of rain since I’d moved in. It’s the thought that counts.

My best friend Hannah with their true love Jeremiah, forced apart by evil.

Eventually we island dwellers were given permission to visit other islands and bring back goods. I visited many of my friends who were also trapped in their own hellscapes. They told me stories of how they hadn’t slept in days, working towards perfecting flower breeding in order to get the perfect colour flower for their island’s “aesthetic.” Tom was getting desperate; he needed more people to come to these islands and he would work us to the bone to do it.

And boy, did villagers flock to us. Eventually, my island was full. I had ten villagers, none of whom I particularly despised and we grew comfortable. We felt safe – or as safe as we could with a dictator living only a few feet away from us. Buildings were upgraded, a museum was built to house the island’s vicious fauna, and we all grew complacent.

Me and the boys trying to find some semblance of calm in the art of yoga.

It wasn’t long before I realised that the island life I had grown used to was actually causing my fellow villagers serious mental pain. Remember Fauna, that sweet lady who called me “dearie”? Turns out she was threatening the lives of every other villager. I would find them crying and miserable, all cursing Fauna for not being able to understand their pain and suffering. Another villager, Jeremiah, was speaking to the “bugs” that live beneath his floorboards. I’m pretty sure it was just Timmy and Tommy whispering at him from outside his window. It was all going downhill.

But I had my own personal life to worry about. I was falling in love. One of the last villagers to join my island was a chap called Octavian. I came across him on one of the mystery islands I had ventured to and, while he was a little rude to me at first, I couldn’t help but be attracted to his bad-boy attitude. Once he moved in, I focused most of my attention on him, but it was only when he began writing me letters and wearing the clothes that I mailed to him that I realised he might love me back.

One of many correspondence between me and my love.

So maybe my life on Yesterday isn’t perfect. There is a lot of scandal and gossip going around and maybe it’s only a matter of time before we all kill each other, but we do take the time to celebrate our accomplishments. Bertha just turned 78 so she’s well on her way to the afterlife, and we just built our eight thousandth bridge (and by we, I mean me). Tom Nook may still be taking our money, but he can’t take our love and friendship.

As I write this, I desperately grip the tentacle of Octavian, my best friend and lover. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but what we do know is that we’ve got landmines around our yards should Tom Nook ever decide to attack.