Cozy Grove developed by Spry Fox and published by The Astrophysicists Guild is a relaxing slice of life simulator somewhat in the vein of Animal Crossing. However, as I am seemingly in the minority of Switch owners that have never played Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I have to look at Cozy Grove on its own merits. Does it have what it takes?
The answer is a resounding yes. Normally, I would leave the recommendation toward the end (To keep you reading or at the very least skimming the review), but my enjoyment of Cozy Grove has made me want to jump the gun a little bit and just tell you right off the bat, if you like cute, relaxing, low-stake gaming, then you should check out Cozy Grove immediately for a seriously chill time.
The story of the game is pretty basic, really. You play as a Spirit Scout (Think girl scout with less cookies and more communicating with ghosts) trying to get the last badge she needs to move to the next rank. The last badge is of course helping a few ghosts with their unfinished business, because why wouldn’t it be? I mean it combines spirits with helping people… well, ghost people… well, ghost bears… well, at least one is actually a seagull ghost bear.
Helping the spirit inhabitants of the island can range from collecting items, to decorating, to crafting. Each spirit will have a number of different quests to undertake, completion of these tasks increases the spirits affinity for you as well as getting them closer to being able to leave purgatory. However, there are limits to how often the spirits will have requests for you.
While it may be in their best interest to provide you with as many tasks as possible to max out that heart meter, it seems they aren’t able to just make up arbitrary requests. As such, you’ll need to come back to the game another day when the quests dry up. A side reward in most quests will be items called Spirit Logs which can be fed to your adorable ghost fire friend Flamey. Feed enough of these logs to him, and he will be able to expand the island and maybe provide more spirits for you to help.
Flamey will also tell you how many Logs are available currently and how many he needs to unlock the next expansion. As mentioned, sometimes the number of available logs will be less than he needs, meaning that you’ll have to come back another day for more quests.
During this downtime, you can still play the game, exploring the island, collecting items, decorating, and redecorating as you see fit. But you won’t be able to progress in the story. During the first day there really isn’t a whole lot you can do, but as you progress the number of things you can do slowly expands as well, notably one of the Spirits will ask for items to add to a collection, as collecting a lot of items are not tied directly to quests, you can spend a lot of time hunting down items to give to him.
Another activity you can perform during the down times is to try to fill out your badge collection. While the main purpose of the game is to collect a badge for helping the Spirits, you’ll also be able to complete smaller badges that sort of function like achievements, such as collecting a certain number of flowers or shells or crafting a certain number of objects. These badges also have rewards tied to them, generally coins that can be used to purchase some items.
The game is designed to be played mostly in short bursts over a long period of time, but there is enough to love about the world to spend extra time in it. The art style and designs of the characters are quite lovely, and the low/no-stakes gameplay makes for a nice wind-down after a long day.
The developers want you to come back to the game day after day, but thankfully they have chosen not to include a daily log-in reward system, which can after a while make a game seem more like an obligation than the vacation from reality it should be. You will receive letters and rewards in your mailbox, but you can take time off from the game and then return later without feeling like you’ve lost anything.
Once again, I will recommend this game to anyone looking for a chill slice of life experience, with a cute exterior, and a family-friendly sense of humour. Cozy Grove is just as cozy as its name applies, great for kids and big kids (adults) alike.
Great art style
40+ Hours of content (intended over months of play)
Affordable (great value)
Not good for action junkies
Not a great candidate for speedruns