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Cozy Gaming: Animal Crossing: New Leaf

It's been over ten years since Animal Crossing: New Leaf was released but it's still stayed relevant and a favourite amongst many fans of the franchise, so what makes this game so great for many cozy gamers. Read on to find out more!

animal crossing new leaf review

Before I start this review, allow me set the scene as I have such a deep, personal connection with this game. It's June 2013, a rather hot June at that and I was 22 and very miserable. At the time, I was working as a sales assistant in fashion retail, a job I absolutely hated and any money I was earning was being siphoned by family and my relationship. It felt like I was working to keep everyone else and no one cared how depressed this was making me.

I felt trapped, having no real escape from my reality, that was until Animal Crossing: New Leaf was released. At first, I wasn't going to buy this game, not because I didn't want to but because I could barely afford to. Any lavish purchases I did make was always met with criticisms. I mean, how dare I spend my hard earned money on myself, right?!

However after a bit of convincing from my co-worker at the time, I popped into GAME after a long day at work and actually purchased it. I finally purchased a full price game. Did I feel guilty? At the time, yes. Do I regret it? Certainly not, as throughout 2013 and 2014, New Leaf became that support I needed.

animal crossing new leaf

animal crossing new leaf path

I'm pretty sure everyone knows what Animal Crossing is, especially after the huge impact New Horizons has had, but incase you have been living under a rock, it's basically this calm, laid back simulation where you socialize with other animal characters, catch fish, bugs, plant flowers and decorate your house- just to name a few. Just like the previous installments, the player takes control of their own villager moving to a newly created town, however, there is a twist, you're the mayor!

The core gameplay itself didn't change too much, however being the mayor brought some new and well needed changes. For example, you can now dictate ordinances, like the opening times of your shops or ensure weeds never pollute your town to even being able to build projects, such as benches or lamp posts. Obviously compared to the latest installment in the series, this is very limited as you only had a small collection to choose from and half the time you had to wait for certain types of villagers to recommend certain types of projects to build.

animal crossing new leaf

Another new feature was the ability to scan in people's designs (paths, outfits etc) using the QR codes and the camera on the back of the 3DS. Just like how Instagram marries nicely with New Horizons, back then Tumblr was the site to use for all your Animal Crossing inspiration and codes. I will never forget spending legit hours on Tumblr trying to find the perfect path for my kawaii town.

Despite the graphics being slightly grainy, it's still visually appealing with its unique style that the series is known for. It had been slightly polished and tweaked since the City Folk and Wild World days but its altered appearance wasn't stripped of its identity. If anything, it looked better for the face lift.

cozy gaming blog

One thing that I love this game for, was just how laid back it was. There was a lot to experience in the palm of your hands, just leisurely taking every in-game day at your own pace and not feeling pressured into getting high scores or being the best at anything. You can just pick up the game and have a casual time hanging out with your villagers, catching critters to 100 percent your museum or even give your town a make-over.

For a solid year, I remember playing this every single day without fail as there was plenty to do and I really did invest so much of my time into my town to ensure that it looked perfect or take part in the many events that are present on certain days of the year. New Leaf felt like the warming, security blanket for the anxious, the weary and depressed, masking their emotional woes with its relaxing gameplay and endearing style. I know I certainly threw myself into this game during some of my more emotional moments as an overworked, under appreciated adult.

animal crossing new leaf cozy gaming

Even ten years on, I would still recommend this title. Some could argue that New Horizons ironed out the restrictive kinks that New Leaf had and is graphically superior, however the latter certainly had a lot of heart. It doesn't feel hollow or is lacking, something I could say about the latest installement in the franchise. But that's just my opinion.

Now that gaming is starting to shift in a more relaxed and cozier sphere, I feel like it's important to not only look forward to the future releases but value those games that came before too!


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