Welcome to Cozy Grove, a peaceful island filled with nature, a campfire and, uhh... ghosts, of all things. As a Spirit Scout, you'll tend to the needs of the ghosts that continue to inhabit the island. Craft new items with the materials you find and advance the story day-by-day in a game designed to be played in short bursts.

If you're not in the mood to read, you could always watch our video review below...

Gameplay

Cozy Grove is made to be a relaxing time; it doesn't require quick reflexes nor does it demand too much of your attention. The aim of the game is to keep the peace (so to speak) by tending to the ghost inhabitants on the island. Their requests tend to revolve around exploring the island and gathering specific resources (branches, mushrooms, etc.) and yet, these requests will grow increasingly challenging once you're able to craft and purchase new items.

Upon completing requests, you'll earn Spirit Logs which you can then throw onto the elegantly named, sentient campfire Flamey. Doing so will increase Flamey's reach to reveal more of the land, which then reveals more ghosts for you to fulfill their requests (and so the cycle continues). The unique side to this is that Cozy Grove encourages playing in moderation as you can only collect so many Spirit Logs per day - and when I say 'per day', I mean real world days. Cozy Grove is designed to be played for 30-60 minutes each day, allowing for the game's entirety to be completed within a couple months; media outlets were only given codes a couple weeks early so it's safe to say that I've only experienced a fraction of this game's content, but the general consensus is that the game aims to be an experience that the player accompanies and grows alongside.

This game's biggest shortcomings are its technical issues and quality of life clunkiness. For such a simplistic presentation, I was suprised to see not only consistent frame rate dips but also, long loading times and jarring draw distances. These issues don't cause as much damage to the experience as it could have considering it's not exactly a fast-paced action game by any means, but it reduces the quality of its presentation substancially. In addition, navigating menus and knowing when you're in reaching distance of something (or someone) to interact with is cumbersome. Placing objects down on the ground is awkward and it took me quite a number of attempts to realise that when doing this, the object will be placed directly around you, meaning that you are in the centre of where it will be placed. Logic would dictate that it'd be placed in front of the character, just like in most life simulation games, but this made decorating my campsite to be a much more tedious process than what it would have needed to be.

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World Design

As previously alluded to, the world continues to grow as you fulfill the ghosts' requests. It also adopts a colouring-in system where fauna and inhabitants will thrive when they're not in black and white.

There are times where it may feel as though you're playing a game of find the needle in the haystack where you must find an object in a sea of other objects. It's a gameplay loop that could have grown tedious but the half hour a day intention keeps it from becoming mundane. The island is also quite condensed to the point where venturing from one side to the other isn't as daunting of a task as one might initially think.

Story / Personality

Cozy Grove may well be haunted but by no means is it a scary game. The entire experience is wholesome and heartwarming and its day-by-day gameplay structure allows for players to build relationships with ghosts that spans over a month or two. The NPCs' dialogue is often quite emotional, sometimes to the point where you need to give it a second read if they're having a particularly bad day. This helped to make the characters more relatable and not just a means to fetch quests.

Whilst some days may feel less exciting as others, that's OK as occassional quests even ask for you to be patient. Mobile games use the limited gameplay to entice players to spend money but Cozy Grove has taken this formula and repurposed it in a way that feels naturally warranted.

Graphics / Art Direction

The hand drawn art style oozes charm, just like the colour that oozes into the world upon fulfilling a request. The colour is used spectacularly to highlight the happiness and serenity you bring to the island and despite how cluttered the world can sometimes look with the excessive amount of foliage, anyone walking past will be sure to comment how cute this game is.

Music / Sound Design

The music is incredible! As someone who embodied the teenage cliche that consisted of myself, an acoustic guitar and side-swept hair, I can appreciate the atmosphere that it creates. The soundtrack isn't exclusively made up of acoustic guitar but it's always present, providing that gather round a campfire and sing some songs motif that Cozy Grove is going for. I could shut my eyes and listen to this music for hours on repeat – I honestly think I'd fall into a peaceful slumber if I did.

Final Score: 78%

Life can be stressful and during more difficult times, it can be hard to find the good in one. Video games are often used as a way to wind down after a hard day but even they can be daunting to boot up at times. Cozy Grove doesn't ask much of the player; it just wants you to stop by for a half hour a day to say hi, help a buddy out and perhaps catch a fish or two before you go. Its serenity is exactly what's needed sometimes and if it wasn't for its technical shortcomings that can easily be patched post-launch, I'd say it's the best way to wrap up a day. Also, I know I said it before but that music – it's everything you could ever want from a game as beautiful as this.

Thank you for checking out our Cozy Grove Switch review, thank you to The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: