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Staying Warm and Toasty with Cozy Grove

Following its release sometime in March 2021, Cozy Grove has been capturing the hearts of many players looking for non-competitive relaxing games. Gamers who love story-rich and driven games would surely love Cozy Grove as the players take the role of a Spirit Scout in a haunted island with the goal of helping its distraught bear-inhabitants. Developed by Spry Fox and The Quantum Astrophysicist Guild, Cozy Grove is a sure way to ease the daily tensions of life as gamers transport into a cozy yet a bit spooky world of Cozy Grove’s ever-changing landscape.

Cozy Grove‘s Title Screen with a spirit bear on the background.

Gameplay

At the start of the game, players will learn that they have taken the role of a Spirit Scout who is set to camp in the island called Cozy Grove. The trip was supposed to be short as there are only a few badges left for the spirit scout to earn. But along the way, the player learns that they are mistakenly sent to a wrong island (they were supposed to be transported to Cozy Cove, haha!) and that, as it turns out, they are stuck in Cozy Grove.

Flamey, the Spirit Scout’s camp fire, will guide the players in what to do in Cozy Grove. The main goal is for the Spirit Scout to collect spirit logs to be given for Flamey to devour (lol). As Flamey eats more spirit logs, its fire grows brighter and reach wider. This unlocks more area on the island as well as new bear characters.

Similar with Animal Crossing’s gameplay, there are certain daily tasks which the player may or may not choose to do. The tasks are given by the bears and which mostly include gathering resources and looking for missing items. As the players finish more tasks, the spirit bears slowly share their stories to the Spirit Scout.

Each spirt bear has its own characteristics and special functions in the island, including a ranger who can help the player locate missing items, a ship captain who accepts new items for his collection and a baker who allows players to craft food for their spirit animals — yes, Spirit Scouts can tend for animals and plants.

Cozy Grove v. Animal Crossing

People who are wondering about Cozy Grove would often hear (or read) that Cozy Grove is a lot like Animal Crossing and I agree but only to some extent. One obvious similarity is the laid-back gameplay and the clock-based pacing of the game.

As a life-sim, the Spirit Scout follows the calendar and time of the players’ Nintendo Switch system (or PC if getting the game via Steam). Arguably, this makes the game seem “slow” for those who just want to finish the game and get it over with. Just like what I did with Animal Crossing, I tried to tinker with my system’s settings to advance the game faster, I admit I’m a bit impatient. Indeed, the game progressed faster but I wouldn’t actually recommend it.

Aside from the warning that I may corrupt my save file due to “time-traveling,” it just didn’t feel right for me to rush things with this game, a stark contrast with my Animal Crossing game style. Admittedly, one of the many reasons I time-traveled a lot in Animal Crossing is for me to finish setting up and decorating my farm as quickly as possible and to earn more money and complete my collection with Blathers. I could only guess that I was too bored with mundane trees on my Animal Crossing island that I had to decorate quickly to satisfy my eyes. This is not the case with Cozy Grove.

Flamey, surrounded by my unfinished campsite and magical animals.

Since the Cozy Grove island changes every day, so too does its decorations and layout, with only the bears’ location and player’s areas staying in place. Every log-in is thus different and it feels like you are playing in a different world every time. Well, not really but you get the point. But be not mistaken. Cozy Grove allows you to decorate the island, but only in dedicated areas, which, for me, is a big plus as I do not have to think about the overall design of the island like in Animal Crossing.

One main difference between the two games is the depth of the story and the conversation with the characters. While I love all my animal friends in Animal Crossing (special shout out to Cherry, Sherb, and Sprinkle!), it is undeniable that their dialogues can get trite and dry over time. Admittedly, Cozy Grove’s spirit bears also do have canned responses to the player but the story-driven conversations more than make up for it. This makes the player look forward to speaking more with the spirit bears and doing more tasks to eventually complete their back story.

Lastly, the art style of the two games is worlds apart. While Animal Crossing’s style is more of a 3D art, Cozy Grove takes pride in beautifully drawn 2D art. I personally prefer 2D characters and scenes as they are easier on my eyes and somehow evokes a nostalgic and fuzzy feeling within me. It’s no wonder really why I like the art style of Rune Factory 4, Don’t Starve Together, Stardew Valley, and a dozen other indie games with 2D art.

Verdict

Overall, the game is a must-play for everyone especially those who are simply looking to pass a bit of time or to get a quick gaming fix. I have been playing every day since its release for only 30-60 minutes a day (while drinking my morning coffee, of course) and I must say that this is one morning ritual I don’t mind doing.

PS. Add me: SW-4255-4431-6139. I’d love to play with new friends.

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