Whether you joined; the boy scouts, cubs, girl guides, or beavers, you’ll know that the organisation wants you to; be the best you can, make friends, learn new skills, and have an open mind. Some of you may never have felt the urge to join one of these groups, but there is now an opportunity to experience this wonderful hobby. Cozy Grove takes the best elements and turns them into a colourful and touching life-Sim that will keep you playing for months.
Developed by Spry Fox and published by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild, this doe eyed cartoon stylised game will have you feeling warm all over as you help the spirits of a haunted island. This is a game that wants you to relax, take your time, and become familiar with the beings and the layout of the strange and ever changing landscape.
Cozy Grove gets its claws into you.
When I was told that the gameplay requires short gaming sessions over many days, I was a little shocked. I loved the idea that I could pick it up each day, do my tasks, and then play something else. But I was worried that I would desperately want to play and the game would restrict me. The latter is true, as Cozy Grove is an addictive game that’ll get its claws into your skin. You’ll be told that nothing else needs to be done, and this’ll make you glum. All you want is one more task to attempt before bedtime.
You control an inexperienced Spirit Scout. She has been sent on her first outing to the abandoned island of Cozy Grove. This desolate place was thought to have been deserted years ago. But you have a special skill, and know this not to be true. How is that possible? This Spirit Scout can see and speak to the dead. A campfire burns in the centre of this odd place, Flamey is your constant companion and tool to progress the story further. The spirits cannot leave this colourless archipelago. They are ever present, but only come to your attention when the flame of the fire burns bright enough.
The fire needs your help to fill its need for wood. It desires Spirit logs, these can’t be found in the wilderness! No, they must be gained by helping the spirits of the bears that you see. Each day a set number of tasks are available for you to complete, some simple, others not so. Once you finish your quest, you will be awarded with; money, items, and Spirit logs. Flamey loves his logs, so be a good Spirit Scout and keep completing their tasks.
Tasks, resource management, and crafting.
The gameplay breaks down into three main categories; Tasks, resource management, and crafting. Each is as important as the other, and you will not be successful unless you learn about each element.
These vary depending on the bear you talk to, and the aim of each job. Some will require you to search the island for lost items, you will be given clues to their rough location. Using logical thinking, and some luck, you’ll pinpoint the exact position of the object, completing part or all of your mission. Other jobs ask you to harvest trees, fish, mine for ore, and so forth. These require tools, and you will need to search the island thoroughly to find everything you need. The hardest tasks are those that take several days. These usually rely on other quests to be fulfilled in order to be rewarded with the correct items. It can quickly become overwhelming, but a handy checklist helps to keep things on track.
A Sim game wouldn’t be right without a big helping of resource management. Scavenge the island for goods, hunt for fish, cook objects on Flamey, and more. The biggest hurdle to overcome is the lack of storage space. Upgrading your tent is one option, but this costs money, and this isn’t so easy to come by. You must keep what you think is useful and sell or throw away the rest. It can frustrate, but needs must when you have no storage space.
This element comes into the game very early days, but it’s not until you are more established that you look at this seriously. Make food, items, housing, and decorative objects. Each has a use, and careful choices and placement will help you progress at a faster pace.
Stunningly simple, if not slow.
The glory of Cozy Grove is its stunning simplicity and ease of play. With no evil bosses to overcome, enemies to fight, or survival elements to battle with, the gameplay is slow with little bite. If you don’t appreciate a lethargic and relaxing experience, this may not be the title for you. I adored its pace, however. Thirty minutes to an hour of feel good gameplay made me warm inside. Helping each of the bears was a delightful experience, and seeing the land spring to colour was rewarding.
When you first arrive at the grove, it lacks colour. The spirits feel unwanted, and this negative energy flows through the land killing any positivity or happiness. As you work your way from ghost to ghost, you leave a trail of joy behind you. Each zone that is occupied by a spirit springs to life with colour, and the bushes and trees that bear fruit blossom. It’s wonderful to observe such a cold environment warming up with simple gestures of help.
Cozy Grove is a super cute treat.
Like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon, Cozy Grove has a distinctly cute appearance. The large and bold character models are wonderful to look at. The monochromatic island is a cold but beautiful place, yet, once colour is added to the landscape, it becomes a warm, stunning land that will amaze you with its detail. The constantly changing environment will keep you on your toes, and the ability to place down structures and new plants allows you to create the home of your dreams. I loved the relaxed gameplay, but I think the visual approach was my favourite element! Every time I loaded in, it made me smile and was a joy to look at.
The wholesome atmosphere wasn’t restricted to the visual presentation. No, the audio got in on the action with a rich and heartfelt soundtrack of uplifting songs. What better way to spend hours of your time than to relax to the lovely music while helping bear spirits? As you complete each task, you’ll hear apt sound effects that have a magical edge to them. They added to the mystery of this wonderful grove and were in keeping with the theme. My favourite part of the audio had to be the inaudible chatter from each of the ghosts. It reminded me of Simlish speech and suited the game.
Interacting with objects was a pain.
Playing this was an amazing experience, mostly. Many submenus keep items together and using tools were as simple as you’d hope. Monitoring your quests was equally straightforward, as was finding each spirit in need. For all its positives, there has to be one thing that holds it back, and that was object interaction. It was a nightmare! You had to place yourself in a small hitbox to select the items. This progressively worsened as more objects were added. I would like to see Spry Fox update this with a method to select things near you. If this is achieved, the gameplay would improve vastly.
When a game demands that you play it repeatedly for thirty to forty minutes a day, you know that it’s going to have replay value. With the daily tasks needing to be completed, and quests becoming more in depth as the game progresses, you will make playing this a daily ritual. Badges must be unlocked, and resources gathered to help each of the twenty spirits stuck on the haunted island. A challenging achievement list asks you to play this religiously, so completionists best not go on holiday otherwise their 100% status will be out of the window.
Cozy Grove will be your new vocation in life.
The survival genre is usually the master of taking over your life, but Cozy Grove and its life-Sim style has taken the crown. It’s rare that a game demands you play it so consistently, yet this won’t feel like a chore, more like a new vocation in life. You will build the camp of your dreams while helping the spirits of this haunted archipelago. A heartfelt and touching game that’ll get under your skin. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it and recommend you buy it here! Can you help the ghosts and become a Master Spirit Scout? Feed Flamey, attract the bears and build a loving community.