In the world of video game escapism, there are generally two options. Become a hero, mowing down enemies and saving the world…or engage in fun, relaxing physical labour. Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing are both games that focus on building a community and town. While both of these games have similar goals and objectives, they definitely have their own pros and cons. So to which escapist town should you retire? We’re looking at Animal Crossing vs Stardew Valley.
Animal Crossing hit the world hard in the early weeks of the pandemic. The most recent iteration of the game; Animal Crossing; New Horizons released for the Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020. But the game itself has been around since April 14, 2001, starting its journey on the GameCube.
You play as the Villager, who moves to a new town and takes out a housing loan from the infamous Tom Nook. To pay off your debt, you can sell fish, fruit, bugs, or fossils; donating those same items to Blathers’ museum. Once you’ve paid off your debt to Tom Nook, he graciously expands your house and grants you a new loan. It’s a classic tale of capitalism.
There’s plenty of stuff you can do in addition to working on your housing debt as well. You can design the interior of your house, collect rare items, work on completing the museum, and meet your neighbours. The other townsfolk are a collection of cute animals who will move in and out of the Village. You can celebrate holidays, birthdays, and special events, exploring the Village and the animals who live in it.
Now New Horizons takes the classic Animal Crossing formula and adds a little twist to it. Instead of living in the typical Village, you arrive at an uninhabited island. Tom Nook, alongside his nephews, Timmy and Tommy, have bought an island and are offering you and three other townsfolk a new life on a brand new island. Besides to paying off your housing debt and decorating your house, you can also decorate the entire island and make decisions about its layout. This is the most autonomy the player has had over the layout and look of their village, as well as the townsfolk who reside there.
Animal Crossing is a peaceful experience with pleasing graphics and music. It’s a classic game; with the Villager and staple Animal Crossing characters like Isabel being playable Smash characters. It has been an established and loved game for over twenty years.
But Animal Crossing, specifically New Horizons, is not without its flaws. The game moves in real-time, and while you can cheat and time jump, it can definitely become monotonous. New Horizons is also lacking in events. The game has decided to release new features in free updates as time goes on. For example, the ability to swim and dive was added to the June 22nd update, four months after the game’s release. New holidays, furniture, and characters also prop up in updates. New Horizons also has a crafting feature, and while it adds a new element to the game, it makes it significantly harder to get the furniture and design pieces the player desires. The townsfolk also have limited dialogue options, and interacting with them can become boring.
In an effort to make New Horizons feel new every few months, it comes across as feeling incomplete. It is easy to feel as though you’re doing chores, rather than playing a game.
Similar to Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley is also a game about building up a village and home. Both games are designed for peaceful escapism to a quiet town. But Stardew Valley absolutely has its differences from Animal Crossing. It’s a much newer game, coming out February 26, 2016, and is playable on several consoles; PC, Playstation, Xbox, Switch, iOS, and Android.
You play as the Farmer, moving to your deceased grandfather’s farm to escape the monotony of life in the big city. You earn money by selling your crops, fishing and mining. Stardew Valley also has a pretty large crafting feature; like Animal Crossing.
But where the character interactions in Animal Crossing or meant to be cute or humorous with very little long-term consequences, your relationship with the other residents in Stardew Valley are a massive part of the game. You can even marry another character and have children with them. Once you reach certain relationship levels with them, you may receive a cut scene giving you more insight as to who they are. These cutscenes reveal an intricate and interesting larger story taking place in the valley.
There is also a combat feature because as you mine, you encounter monsters. Some cute 8-bit creatures to get your heart racing. There are mysteries to unlock throughout the valley as well. Supernatural elements abound through sightings of mermaids, woodland creatures, and the cooky Wizard.
Stardew Valley has seasonal events as well. They are cute and low-stakes events where you can get to know the other residents of the Valley and enjoy each other’s company. There are larger events as well, progressing the longer you live in the Valley, that have long-term implications for the community.
Simply put; Stardew Valley has significantly more to do than Animal Crossing and a much more elaborate plotline. But where Stardew Valley is more intricate than Animal Crossing, it is also more complicated. There is a lot to keep up with, and sometimes it feels as though there are not enough virtual hours in a day to get done all the Farmer needs to do. Time in Stardew Valley moves fast, with each hour passing by in increments of ten minutes, seven seconds in real life between them. If your Farmer is awake past 2am they will pass out, so you have to be in bed at a reasonable time.
Even though Animal Crossing can become boring in its simplicity, Stardew Valley becomes almost overwhelming. Do you focus on the Farmer’s love life? Turning a fast crop profit? Upgrading your house? Exploring the mine? Because there is definitely not enough time in the Stardew Valley day to do it all.
Furthermore, to the graphics snob, it should be noted that Stardew Valley is an 8-bit game. But the game design is beautiful, and the music is cute and relaxing.
The Village or the Valley?
In the question of Animal Crossing vs. Stardew Valley, the answer comes down to one thing. Do you want to do simple tasks to take your mind off the stresses of the day? Then your answer is Animal Crossing. Do you want to dive into an intricate world with nuanced stories, prepared to put some work into your farm? Stardew Valley is your game.
They both scratch the same itch. Simplistic escapism in the form of simple tasks and cute stories. The question is how you scratch that itch.
Thanks for reading our Animal Crossing vs Stardew Valley article. Which side do you fall on? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.
Read about seven Nintendo Switch games to get excited about HERE.
Animal Crossing 2.0 – Review
On November 5th, Animal Crossing 2.0 alongside the DLC Happy Home Paradise was released. It was the last major free update to hit the latest game in the franchise and added a host of new features to the game. After almost a month of playing it, here’s our review and everything new in Animal Crossing 2.0 from Nintendo.
Animal Crossing has been around for 20 years, with its first release on 14th April 2001. Since then it’s released several versions of the game for the DS, Wii, and so on.
The latest version, New Horizons, came to the Nintendo Switch at just the right time; at the very beginning of Quarantine. It was easily the most popular Nintendo game last year. But it had a fatal flaw; rather than including everything upfront, Nintendo would release periodic updates where they would add to the game. The goal was to keep the game feeling fresh, but the result was that New Horizons felt unfinished. The game was bare-bones compared to past versions of Animal Crossing and didn’t have half as much to do. With the release of the last free update, New Horizons finally feels like a complete game. So what’s new? While there were a lot of things added and small things fixed, we’re just going to focus on the major gameplay changes and additions.
The beloved pigeon, Brewster, has been in Animal Crossing since 2005. He runs a cosy coffee shop, The Roost, usually located in the Museum. But he has been missing from New Horizons. A fan favourite, his absence has definitely been felt. Brewster is one of the most demanded additions to New Horizons. With the update, you can find him gyroid hunting on one of Kapp’n’s Islands and invite him to your island, where he will set up the Roost once more. You will also find some of your residents and NPCs there and can invite current and past Animal Crossing characters to the Roost via Amiibo card.
Speaking of Kapp’n, the turtle is back. In past versions of the game, Kapp’n is usually the one taking you to your new village at the start of every game. Whether it be by taxi, bus, or train, Animal Crossing typically kicks off with the retired seafarer. But New Horizons didn’t feature Kapp’n at all; until now. Now you can have him take you on island tours via his little boat off your dock. Some of these islands are extremely rare and feature exclusive items. He also sings you a little song while you make the journey..
Gyroids have, once again, been a part of every Animal Crossing game until New Horizons. They are little singing things that can be placed like furniture. In New Horizons, you can find a fragment on Kapp’n’s islands, bury it, water it, and a gyroid will grow the next day. Or some may be buried on your island after a rainy day. While past versions of gyroids have been annoying, the New Horizon’s gyroids are adorable and delightful. In New Horizons, Brewster is an avid collector. You’ll even get a Brewster gyroid after drinking enough coffee.
Cooking / Farming
Cooking has also been added to the game, something entirely unique to New Horizons. You can purchase crop starts from Leif, start a farm, and then cook the produce you grow. This opens up a whole host of fun recipes, and you can gift your creations to your residents. Eating a meal will make your villager stronger for longer, the same effect eating fruit previously had.
You can also host a group stretching event in the plaza. Random villagers and NPCs will join you. You can use your controllers to actually stretch with them, or use the joysticks if you’re stuck with a Lite or don’t feel like standing up.
Harv’s Island was previously… pretty useless. There was really nothing to do there aside from taking pictures, which is fun once. Now you can help him build an open-air Farmers Market/Commune. For 100,000 bells each, you can invite NPCs to set up a permanent shop. Among these are Leif, Redd, Kicks, Saharah, Reese, and Cyrus, who have all been seen in New Horizons. But it also introduces the return of Tortimer, the mayor from past games. (Who some fans theorized was dead until now). Harriet, a hairdresser who introduces a ton of new hairstyles to the game. And the fortune-teller Katrina. This expansion to Harv’s island is a huge resource.
You no longer have to wait for these NPCs to come to your island to purchase goods from them. It also opens up more customization for previously uncustomisable items. And it’s another goal to work towards after you pay off your home loans.
You can now issue Ordinances through Isabelle in the town hall. These include things like adding a Bell Boom so that you find more bells and goods are worth more, but things also cost more. Or the Beautiful Island ordinance, which will have your villagers pick up weeds and trash and will cause your flowers to grow faster. You can also issue that your villagers wake up earlier or go to bed later.
Happy Home Paradise
In addition to 2.0, a DLC was added to the Nintendo Store. Happy Home Paradise allows you to “get a job” building vacation homes. You report to your boss Lottie for work, alongside your coworkers Niko and Wardell. From there, you choose a character and build a home for them. They will give you a theme and some items they want to see in their home. You can also design facilities, like a cafe or school and assign characters to work in them. Using an amiibo card, you can also design homes for NPCs like Isabelle or Tom Nook, where you will have free reign over the design.
Happy Home Paradise also introduces partition walls which allow for more design options in your house. It also includes a lot of new furniture. When you’ve designed enough vacation homes, you are able to then redesign the houses on your island.
HHP adds a lot to the game. Animal Crossing’s flaw has always been that it gets too repetitive. HHP adds some flavour and a lot more to do. So even long after you’ve paid off your home loan and made your island pretty, you can still really engage with the game. It adds to and boosts life on the island, but also extends the world a bit. You can interact with more characters beyond just your residents and have more interaction with NPCs beyond purchasing goods from them.
All in all, the 2.0 update and Happy Home Paradise have elevated New Horizons. It makes the game feel new and adds what many fans have been asking for. While they are both great, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this all should have been included from the get-go like past versions of the game. After playing a skeleton of a game for a year, we now truly have a new Animal Crossing game.
Do you like Animal Crossing 2.0? Do you agree with our Animal Crossing review? Let us know in the comments below.
We compare Animal Crossing with Stardew Valley HERE.
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