Some games are action packed, some are real head scratchers, but there aren’t a ton of games that are just pure relaxation. Last year Animal Crossing: New Horizons proved that during dark times, that video games can be a happy place to retreat at the end of the day. Tom Nook, K.K. Slider and company were the first thing that came to mind when settling into my Cozy Grove, but this new slice of island life has some different spookier tricks up its sleeve.
Once you’ve created your Spirit Scout avatar you arrive at Cozy Grove, a lush forest island inhabited entirely by animal ghosts. You’ll soon be given your task of helping to soothe these spirits, and alongside with your campfire friend Flamey will need to gather and craft different items as you go. It’s a fairly simple loop that you’ll get used to over the next couple of real time months of your life.
Cozy Grove review: charming ghosts
The ghosts that you help throughout your time in Cozy Grove have their own unique charm. Other than a Fox shopkeeper, they’re all bears with wildly different personalities. There’s a blacksmith bear, a postie bear and even a salty old sea captain bear. My favourite was a wood effect bear who communicates with trees, and the personalities just get more wild as you upgrade your campfire and meet more well written characters.
Helping your grizzly new friends is usually pretty straight forward. They’ll ask you to find an item somewhere on the island, and give you a clue to its whereabouts. Then it’s up to you to wander the forests and beaches to check behind trees and rocks for missing packages or ketchup for a red velvet cake. This would probably be easier if the island wasn’t black and white until you’ve made a spirit happy, and didn’t change the location of landmarks every new day. If you’re struggling you can spend your hard earned coin for a hint or two, but it’ll mean you’ve got less to spend in the store.
Time to craft
As well as finding items, some quests see you needing to craft the items you need. There’s plenty of food, shells and plant life to be found on the island, and you’ll be helpfully guided on how to find what you need to complete a daily task. Crafting is overly simple, and involves throwing items on your campfire and getting something in return. There’s also the blacksmith, but that’s used more to make some tools to help you gather more bits.
With an array of shovels, axes and rods at your disposal, you’ll soon be lining your inventory with valuables you can sell or hand in to the captain’s collection (which is definitely not a museum). Every day there’s something new to find, so it’s worth combing the beaches and casting out the rod each day. You’ll need to be fishing anyway, because you always need an excessive amount of fish.
Although the main drive to help these bears is the story, you’ll also be incentivised to do so every day with a bunch of furniture. Each piece of furniture can be used to spruce up your campsite – although as it’s just a flat bit of land as opposed to a house, it can end up looking like a bit of a junkyard. Each item you place has different keywords attached to it, which is important if you want to keep any plants and pets happy.
Cozy Grove review: sim life
The first thing I bought in Cozy Grove was an adorable green bird, before realising it wouldn’t be truly happy (and provide me with valuable essence) without a nice environment. I quickly gathered enough rustic furniture for this picky little fella, and fed and pet him relentlessly. This all becomes more complex as you gather more friends with different tastes in decor.
It’s important to mention that similarly to some other life sim games, there is a limit to how much you can really do in each day of Cosy Grove. You’ll get maybe 30-60 minutes of playtime daily, depending on how hard you fish and gather. It works out pretty well because the gameplay isn’t exactly thrilling, but it’s nice to spend some time in the incredibly beautiful world with your new friends regularly.
If you’ve played games like Cozy Grove before, you’ll likely know how much mileage you’ll get out of it. Some will love the carefree daily check ins, others will find the fairly repetitive loop lacking. I sit somewhere in the middle, but can’t deny that I was taken in by the charms of its beautiful world and animal cast along the way.
Gorgeous to look at
Enjoyable gameplay loop
Can be repetitive
Limited daily content
Crafting is overly simple