Animal Crossing: New Horizons recently arrived, and we were keen to check out what all the fuss is about. Is it pure joy to revel in, or just The Sims for furries?

So, rather than coming up with a rushed review for something that needs time to explore, we logged into our getaway island experience each day for a week to bring you the following diary.

DAY ONE: Welcome to Muffinia!
Signed up for this deserted island getaway thing. That raccoon Tom Nook speaks a pretty good game, here’s hoping he delivers. Got head and hair together, stuffed up my clothing and ended up in jeans. I hate denim.

Anyway, it’s onto a rickety seaplane – Dodo Airlines, eh? Guess that’s one way they can get off the ground. I hope…

Make it OK to my new, rather spartan home, which I have christened Muffinia, because mmm, muffins. It has bum trees! On closer inspection they’re peaches. That makes a bit more sense.

So much for deserted, as I meet two folk who’ll be sharing my island. Also, Nook and his two employees Timmy and Tommy (possibly related to the boss?) seem to have set up shop here. Well, tent. A spot of orientation, telling the other two where to set up (as far away from me as possible) and it’s time to set up my own tent. Camping. Yay.

Eat some bu- erm, peaches and take a quick crafting 101 course. Also get given a ‘NookPhone’ which looks pretty cool and has some handy apps. Missed opportunity not calling it a ‘Nookia’ though. Time for bed. ZZZzzz…

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

DAY TWO: I wish, I wish I didn’t catch that fish
What to do? Make a fishing rod and go fishing! Seems pretty easy, is kind of fun and chill, but don’t always catch fish. Caught a tin can – on a previously “deserted” island? Hmm…

Tom Nook starts rabbiting on about some Blathers guy – or was that blathering on about some Rabbit guy? – and his penchant for fish and fossils. He apparently doesn’t dig insects though. Anyway, as I’ve become what essentially seems to amount to a body corporate manager for the island (should have listened more) I get to pick where he’ll set up. Yes, as far away from me as possible.

So much for idyllic, got attacked by a swarm of wasps! I mean, I did shake their nest out of a tree, but ouchy!

Meanwhile, looks like the airport’s open for business. Oh, and stupid denim. Doesn’t seem to be any alternatives in the shop, either. Oh well, nighty-night.

DAY 3: Amy dug a hole
Wahey, I’ve got a shovel! It’s kind of fun digging holes, jumping over them and then filling them in. Also, explained this shiny thing I kept seeing and couldn’t do anything with in my previously shovel-less state– buried bucks! Speaking of holes, planted some flowers. Watering like crazy, hope they grow.

I’d been wondering how to get across the river. A recipe for a bridge maybe? Nup. Have to go the pole vault route now that I have the recipe. Nice to explore a bit further, and also start finding fossils. I guess that museum dude will get a kick out of them. Hopefully I’ll get some bucks for them.

Don’t get bucks for them, just apparent gratitude and boy does that owl – Blathers, not Rabbits, as it turns out – crap on! Won’t help me pay my debt to Tom Nook, who likes to drop not-so-subtle reminders about the outstanding balance.

OMG, found a toucan… bin chicken… oh, seagull (allegedly) washed up on the beach, Donald Duck suit and all. Managed to wake him up and he sent me off schlepping for bits for his communicator. Had NFI what he was on about. Speaking of Donald Duck, realise I’ve been parading around in my undies since dumping those jeans by the river. I note that nobody else has bothered taking them. Time for bed. Night!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

DAY 4: Where there’s a wisp there’s a way
I’ve sold enough crap that I’ve collected – and earned a bunch of frequent flyer points, or ‘Nook Miles’, just by doing stuff – so managed to get enough dough together to pay off Tom Nook. That should shut him up for a whi- what? I can have a house and stop tent-slumming it? Where do I sign! Back in debt to Nook.

Go for a potter, say “Hi!” to the neighbours and find a bottle on the beach. Oh look, it has a recipe for a mountain standee. Now I just have to work out what on Earth a mountain standee actually is.

Yipes! Came across a gh-gh-gh-gh-ghost! Still, I think I scared it more than it scared me. Apparently, it’s a “wisp” and it asked me to find the five willies – or whatever – that I scared out of it. Seems a nice enough apparition, so I do its bidding. Generously gave me a new recipe for my troubles. Wish some of these bloody recipes were for cake though.

Dug a few more holes. Ordered some glasses. No sign of the bin chicken today. Bed.

DAY 5: Ticket to ride
Yeah, now we’re talking, I am the proud owner of a house! A bit concerned about the quality though – after all, it was knocked together in a day. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s home, and the roof isn’t canvas so it’s definitely a step up. I can also store more of my too-good-to-sell crap. I notice a bit of keeping-up-with-the-Joneses going on, as my two isle-mates also have new houses. Mine’s nicer… and more secluded. Heh.

Spotted a balloon just floating away, so got my trusty slingshot and fwapped it out of the sky. Got a pressie for my trouble. Beware of balloons bearing gifts? Nah!

Saw that wisp again. Avoided it. Got stung by wasps again – twice. I hate wasps. Then got bitten by a mozzie! What sort of hell hole is this bloody island? It’s like something from I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!

Only one fossil to go for the owl and he’ll be able to build a museum. Not sure how economically viable such an establishment is when there are seven peeps on the island including its proprietor, but I’m no financial whiz.

Speaking of questionable choices, young Timmy wishes to set up a bricks and mortar shop on Muffinia. Just when I thought I could chill and dig a few more holes, he’s after armloads of wood and iron nuggets. How the flip do I find iron nuggets?!

I probably should get some pants.

Score a ticket to ride from Tom Nook. Might see where it leads tomorrow. Knackered after gathering all that wood for Timm… zzzzzz.

DAY 6: The quest for pants
Up bright and earl- what, it’s 10pm?! Whatevs. Use Nook Miles ticket for a mystery island flight. Meet a tiger pop star named Bangle. Seems cool, so I invite them to live on Muffinia. The more the poppier, hey?

This place has coconuts, so grabbed some and did a spot of fishing, before heading home to Muffinia.

Back home, avoid the wisp again and find the last museum piece. This gets Blathers in an excited flap, as he can now build his museum. Good for him.

Find a new recipe – a clackercart. Clackercart?! Uh, where do I start…?

More shopping options – a bandana. Don’t want to look like Axl Rose so I pass. Shop stockers taking the piss by offering me denim cut-offs. Did get an app update though to do custom designs. Made myself a nice frock and have joined the world of the snappily – and more civilly – dressed.
Bloody mozzies! Bed.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Day 7: A giant sunfish, bigger than you

The museum’s going up. If anything like the houses I’m guessing it’ll be open tomorrow. Nook must use those amazing Chinese folks who made those hospitals in a couple of days. Remarkable people.

Speaking of Nook, my new favourite oligarch keeps dropping hints about paying for the house. Starting to question the peaceful aspect of this deal, so go fishing. Catch something fishy that’s utterly bloody huge. A sunfish, apparently. I only know that because, thank goodness, these speech bubble thingies keep following me all over the place.

Realised I haven’t invited any friends to my island. Eh, stuff ’em, none of them have invited me. Then again, if I gave them my code…

Also catch a piranha. Survive the experience, but wish I could teach it to eat those $@%&ing mozzies!!!

Escape those little buggers by taking TWO mystery trips. Don’t find much of use, save for some new fish. All these things are tracked in the app – I like collecting stuff.

That reminds me, no sign of Bangle yet. Found an Egyptian themed island instead…? Meh, maybe they’ll rock up tomorrow? Sleep tight.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Seven days and we know that we’ve scarcely scratched the surface of what Animal Crossing: New Horizons has to offer. While we took things at a decidedly leisurely pace, others have been creating incredible homes, recreating movie scenes, having parties and even starting bizarre cults (there’s always one…)

This is just one of the many delights of Animal Crossing: New Horizons – you can just putter about in a fugue of blissful escape, or you can go hammer and tongs and revel in all that island life offers, and from our small taste it offers a lot.

With recent world events and many of us finding ourselves suddenly isolated, a social game experience like this that can keep people connected couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Animal Crossing: New Horizons truly is a joy.