Over the next week, we will be posting features for what we’ve nominated to be the best games of 2020. Then, on December 17, we will crown one of the nominees as GameSpot’s Best Game of 2020, so join us as we celebrate these 10 games on the road to the big announcement. Be sure to check out our other end-of-the-year coverage collected in our Best Games of 2020 hub.
It’s become cliche at this point to remark on Animal Crossing: New Horizons‘ fortuitous timing, how it arrived at exactly the right moment to ease us through the first few, uncertain months of a world-changing pandemic. And yet, it’s impossible to view the game without also looking at the circumstances surrounding its release. More than any other title that launched this year, Animal Crossing felt like a panacea to 2020. Just as the COVID-19 virus began surging uncontrollably and forced many parts of the world into lockdown, suddenly shattering daily norms and routines that we had all taken for granted, here came this wholesome, candy-colored bit of escapism–this digital playpen where your next-door neighbor is a fitness-minded penguin and your biggest concern is whether the sofa you just purchased matches the rest of the decor in your living room.
Given these circumstances, it’s easy to see why Animal Crossing became such an immediate, inescapable hit, particularly during the first half of the year. As an unprecedented pandemic upended our collective sense of normalcy, the game offered a welcome bit of respite, a chance to socialize with friends virtually and revel in the mundanity of daily life that was now being denied to us. Of course, this in itself is hardly novel; many other games also serve as a virtual social space where you can hang out and pass time with friends. But what made Animal Crossing hit differently is its emphasis on the smaller, unceremonious aspects of daily activities: the joy of checking out what new items are in stock at the store; the small thrill of seeing town hall swap out its fall decorations for Christmas lights; the satisfaction of reeling in a new type of fish not yet on display in the museum.
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Source: Game Spot Mashup