Playing ACNH… With Friends: Part Two

(Author’s narration)

In my last blog article about playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons (ACNH) on the Nintendo Switch, I spoke about my recent experience of playing the game with friends and I included an interview with Luisa (fellow ACNH player and person with M.E.). Thankfully, I managed to escape from the pitfall I fell into on Luisa’s Island, Aysa-Thoon, so I can now share part two of my adventure!

Living with even mild M.E. can be a lonely and isolating experience. I’m able to work a few hours from home each morning but, in doing that, I use up pretty much all of my energy for the day. There is little opportunity for me to do other things, like seeing family and friends, going for trips out, and doing the activities that I used to enjoy in my spare time like hiking, sewing and baking. Playing Animal Crossing New Horizons (ACNH) on the Nintendo Switch has been a real lifeline for me because it’s something I am able to do and enjoy, whilst living with M.E. It keeps me occupied and gives me a creative outlet. Now that I am starting to play the game with other people, it is also enabling me to enjoy a social connection. I really value playing ACNH with other people with M.E. because, just like me, the other player is choosing to spend their precious energy and limited activity time on doing something fun together – and that means a lot.

Solving A Murder Mystery On Aysa-Thoon

Two people sitting on a bench, smiling
ACNH Friends: Luisa (left) and Lisa (right)

Aysa-Thoon Dream Code: DA-3051-7338-2630

I was delighted when Luisa first got in touch to ask if I would like to play ACNH with her. I replied to her message right away with a very enthusiastic, ‘Yes, please!’ We had a lot of fun exploring one another’s Islands and meeting the different residents. A few weeks into our ACNH friendship, I received an intriguing email from Luisa with the subject ‘Murder mystery testing?’ The email read:

I’ve put together a little murder mystery game for some friends… would you have any interest in testing it for me…?

Well, let me think… Okay. I’ll be over in five minutes!

Dressed and ready to go solve a murder!

I was honoured that Luisa had asked me to help – and also intrigued as to what to expect. Just before my visit, Luisa sent over a document which contained all I needed to know. Feeling excited, and a little nervous (as my murder solving skills are a little rusty…), I set off, on the next available flight to Aysa-Thoon.

I feel I should confess that the following account is actually from my second Murder Mystery on Aysa-Thoon! I enjoyed the first one so much I asked Luisa if I can do another one, and write a blog article about it – and Luisa was more than happy to oblige. So, let me share the experience with you…

A person waves "Local time is 5:02 PM. We've got clear skies and the temperature is... comfortable."
Flyover: Arriving At Aysa-Thoon

When I arrived on Aysa-Thoon there were clothing items on the ground for me to pick up and wear, which gave Luisa and me a giggle, as I had already donned my detective’s hat, trying to look the part! I changed into the clothes that Luisa had put out for me and the adventure began.

Luisa explained that I had been called to Aysa-Thoon as my help was required. Harriet, the pink poodle who runs the Shampoodle barber shop (in previous versions of Animal Crossing), had been murdered and it was my job to solve the crime!

A detective stands in front of a person saying 'Murdered right on this island'
Murder on Aysa-Thoon!

Luisa had set up the game as a Cluedo-style murder mystery. My Detective’s Notepad included a list of suspects, possible locations, and murder weapons. I just needed to find the clues to rule them out, in order to solve the mystery!

'I shall begin'
Detective Lisa’s on the Case…

Luisa had placed a number of clues around the Island. I had to find the character markers on the ground, and refer to the corresponding clues in the information pack, in order to start working out who had been where, at the time of the murder, and to try to work out what the murder weapon was. Just as I was about to go off searching, Luisa warned me that she’d made this Murder Mystery harder than the last one – and that I’d need a ladder… Right… Ah, well. Let’s go looking for clues!

A detective stands behind a picture of a lion's face painted on the ground
The First Clue: Leopold

The first character I found was one of Luisa’s favourite residents, Leopold. Referring to my clue pack I read what Leopold had to say:

I didn’t see anything at the museum I’m afraid. Oh that slingshot is mine. I was going to send it to my cousin as a gift, that’s why it’s brand new and unused.

Leopold

So, I can cross Museum off the list of locations and the slingshot wasn’t used as the murder weapon… Time to look for another clue.

This is when I realised that Luisa hadn’t been joking when she said this Murder Mystery was going to be harder. When I’d come to test the last one the character clues were easy to find and fairly close together. This time, I wandered far and wide and started to wonder if the game play had actually changed! But, then I found a very well hidden clue and realised, Luisa was being sneaky this time!

A detective stands behind a clue on the ground
Coco: Hidden Under a Tree!

Coco’s clue was up high and hidden underneath a tree! (Note on the above picture, Luisa looks very pleased with herself down on the lower level! I think she’s enjoying making me work extra hard finding the clues.)

Tom Nook was helping me set up my tent at the campsite. Thanks to him I didn’t need to sleep directly under the stars like last time!’

Coco

So that rules out the campsite as a location, and Tom Nook as a murder suspect… Off to find the next clue…

A detective sits on a chair and sighs
Finding Ankha And Taking A Breather

I found Ankha (and ruled out Resident Services and the shovel) and decided to have a little sit down. You can see from the look on my face, I wasn’t feeling too confident in my detective skills at this point! Still so many clues to find… “Luisa – why did you make this so hard?!”

A detective finds another clue and wonders what it means
Another Clue: Ursala

I found Ursala and ruled out the pitfall seed as the murder weapon (cue flashback to falling down the pitfall on my last visit!), Celeste and the Cafe…

A detective finds a hidden clue
I found Avery!

Avery was another sneaky clue, hidden right behind a bamboo partition!

It was high time someone taught those Nookling boys some survival skills so I took them to the Beach Shipyard for sailing lessons… We have a lot of work ahead of us.

Avery

So, it’s not the Nooklings or the Beach Shipyard. At this point, I’d found nine out of the ten clues. Now I just needed to find Mira! Time for more running around, searching and finally I spotted the clue.

A detective stands behind a clue, wearing a shocked expression
The final clue: Mira

With the final clue found, I was able to solve the mystery! It was time for the big reveal. I decided to head to Aysa-Thoon’s fabulous new stage area to make my big announcement. Drumroll, please… !

Draw curtain back to reveal murdererIt was Leif!
Draw curtain back to reveal murder weaponWith the King Tut Mask
Draw curtain back to reveal murder locationNot sure where though

Aaargh! It was all going so well. But two out of three isn’t bad!

So I wasn’t quite there yet. I’d found all the clues but I was still left with three possible locations: The Beach Hut, The Canal Docks and the Market. Time to visit the potential crime scenes to look for more clues…

A detective standing behind a white feather, thinking
A White Feather…

Hmmmm. A white feather on the ground at the Market. This suggests that Gullivar had been here – not Harriet or Leif. So the murder didn’t take place at the Market.

The poisoned drink outside the beach hut

Ah, look! There’s a drink on the ground outside the Beach Hut. Clay mentioned spilling a drink that he’d left out a while ago – so the poisoned drink is not the murder weapon and this can’t be the murder location… Which means the murder location must be the…

"Canal Docks"
Murder Mystery Location Solved!

So, Leif, with the King Tut Mask at the Canal Docks. Murder mystery solved, with my reputation as a top Murder Mystery investigator (just about) intact!

"You did it!"
Murder Mystery: Case Solved!

To tie up the story, Leif (the sloth who runs the garden shop) had murdered Harriet (the poodle who runs the barber shop) because Harriet had accidentally spilt some shampoo on Leif’s favourite plant and killed it! (Which reminds me, I’d better get back to my Island and water the roses I just bought…) “Bye Luisa, see you again soon!”

A person waves goodbye
Waving Goodbye to Luisa and Aysa-Thoon

Interview with Luisa Part Two: ACNH Murder Mystery

I thoroughly enjoyed testing Luisa’s first Murder Mystery, ahead of the party she held for her friends, and then getting to play a second one, so that I could write this article. I love Luisa’s ACNH Island and I am so impressed with her creativity, skill and imagination in putting the Murder Mystery events together. I was interested to find out more from Luisa so I asked her some specific questions about the ACNH Murder Mystery.

What gave you the idea to create an ACNH Murder Mystery?

I think I first heard of someone making a murder mystery town in Animal Crossing New Leaf and I thought it was such a cool idea! When New Horizons came out I was definitely keeping my eyes peeled for any murder mystery towns I could visit until one day I decided I should just make one myself!

What did you enjoy most about creating it?

I always enjoy thinking up new ways to have fun with my friends in the game that are a bit more original or unexpected and this project was no exception. I think the most fun part was coming up with all the potential motives for my suspects, it was a fun challenge to think of something that would fit with each of their characters.

An advantage to hosting these events is that I can do all the preparations at a time that suits me and then just sit back and relax while my friends have fun which is the perfect arrangement for me! I save a lot of mental energy this way.

Was there anything you found tricky?

Thinking of a way to actually pull off a murder mystery was definitely the most challenging because they’re so open-ended! My first attempt was last year but I had to abandon the project because it ended up being way too complicated, it was a helpful learning experience on how not to do it though!

I definitely prefer the system I came up with this time that’s kind of similar to Cluedo. Not only is it infinitely easier to do, but it means I can repeat the same idea while having different culprits and stories.

What did your friends think of it?

My friends seemed to really enjoy it! I didn’t exactly tell them what I was planning so I think it was a cool surprise when they showed up. Only problem is I think I’ll have to do more!

You bet you will, Luisa. I’ll be back for sure!

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