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Cozy Grove Review – Comfy, But Dead Inside

todayApril 15, 2021 2

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Cozy Grove on Switch

The comparisons between Spry Fox’s new life sim game, Cozy Grove, and Nintendo’s 2020 beloved quarantine game Animal Crossing: New Horizons are not unwarranted. Both are dependent on your system clock, and both only require you to check in for an hour or so each day before you move on to other things.

The similarities stop there, though, because while Animal Crossing’s mechanics are simple and easy to grasp, there is an endless amount of depth to it in terms of what you can actually do within its boundaries and limitations. With Cozy Grove? Not so much.

Players take control of a spirit scout who finds themselves on a deserted island called Cozy Grove. It’s not exactly deserted per se; the spirits of past adventurers still dwell on this island, and there are semblances of interesting backstories to be uncovered here.

The core gameplay loop is simple and short; the central campfire is a spirit in and of itself, and it serves as a guide for you to know what else you can do on the island. It’s fairly simple, just walk around the island, talk to a spirit, complete a quest for them, and you’ll grow closer to them.

The quests are also simple and kinda samey as they usually just require you to find materials, whether it’s digging up the ground, gathering wood, or fishing. Give them the required items and the spirits will express their gratitude in a beautiful burst of color, transforming their immediate surroundings from a monochrome grove to one with a gorgeous, vibrant palette.

It’s quite heartwarming the first few times you accomplish this, but here’s the catch: every day, their surroundings go back to being black and white as you have to complete yet another quest for them and repeat that entire process. So yeah, it’s cute and it’s pretty, but it certainly gets repetitive after a while.

The quests get old real fast, too, especially since Cozy Grove isn’t very good at giving visual indicators of what you can interact with in the game. For instance, early on in the game you’ll get a shovel which you can use to dig up holes in the ground. Yet it’s not always clear or easy to see where exactly you can dig.

The aesthetics of Cozy Grove are really cute and pretty, but that same graphical style constantly gets in the way of you being able to see what you can interact with. You get used to it as you play more, but even so, it’s a core frustration with the game that never goes away.

It’s a good thing, then, that getting to know these spirits a little better is worth the repetition. Not only are the environments lovely, the spirits themselves are impossibly cute and endearing.

A large square fox merchant stands at the north of the island and always greets you with a smile, as does the fire spirit, even when it’s always hounding you for more spirit logs to keep the flame going. I found myself getting attached to these spirits, even when it became clear that there was no real depth to their personalities or backstories.

Sadly, once you’ve completed all your quests for the day, there’s literally nothing else to do till the next day. You can wander around on the island for a bit, but outside of those spirit quests, you can’t really do anything on your own.

cozy grove

It certainly doesn’t help that Cozy Grove struggles on the Switch at times. The console can’t seem to handle this game when there are too many things going on at once, or when the environments experience a sudden burst of color. This definitely seems like an optimization issue with the game, and while it doesn’t kill the experience, it does make it feel a bit sluggish.

At the end of the day, I suspect I would’ve had a better time with Cozy Grove if I played it on my phone. After all, most mobile games are meant to be played in such a manner: check in for a little bit each day, then shut it off.

It’s the same reason why Animal Crossing wouldn’t work quite as well with the mobile format (Pocket Camp kinda sucks, fight me); even after you’ve done all of your daily activities in that game, you can still choose to sink hours into terraforming, decorating, and customizing all sorts of things around your island. Cozy Grove simply doesn’t allow for that kind of grind, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

If you’re looking for a very simple, very low-key game you can dabble in for a few minutes each day, then sure, Cozy Grove might be up your alley. Just don’t expect much depth or nuance in the way of gameplay here.

Cozy Grove Critic Review

Reviewer: Zhiqing Wan | Copy provided by Publisher.