Game Review: Cozy Grove (Nintendo Switch)

Posted October 29, 2022 by Angie in Video Game Reviews / 0 Comments

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Story

In Cozy Grove you play as a spirit scout whose boat floats away, stranding them on this island full of ghost bears. It’s up to you to help the spirits regain their memories so that they can move on to the afterlife. And of course, find a way off the island. I’m unsure if there is a “true ending” to Cozy Grove, as the game keeps going and going, even after you finishing helping everyone. But with the DLC, there’s even more spirits to meet and stories to unfolow.

Visuals

Cozy Grove has a very pleasing art style. It’s very soft and has a watercolor quality to it. When the game starts there is no color, everything is grey. But as you help the bears regain their memories they bring light and color back to the island. You can also craft spirit lamps which will light up a small portion of the island. I really liked how adding color back to the world was part of the gameplay. It gives extra incentive to help these characters. Although, as you progress further, the island starts to look a little weird with patches of grey amongst the full color sections, if you haven’t crafted enough lamps to fill in the gaps.

Sound Effects + Music

The soundtrack for Cozy Grove is very calming and cozy as you’d expect. There’s not much variety and the tracks do get extremely repetitive. I found myself tuning out the more I played. It’s not like I spent hours per day playing, but I’d hear the same song multiple times during my hour-ish sessions. I do wish there had been just a few more songs to break things up.

I’m also not a huge fan of the sound effects. The shuffling footsteps of your spirit scout, spirit lamps lighting up, and the rain are nice. But the rest of it doesn’t really fit the vibe of the game. The menu selection sound is especially horrendous, sounding like a wet cough. I just don’t get it. You can turn the sound levels up or down to your liking, thankfully.

Gameplay + Controls

The gameplay of Cozy Grove is somewhat similar to Animal Crossing: New Horizons in that you have daily tasks to complete, plants to harvest, fish to catch, collectibles to collect, and neighbors to talk to. It’s much more focused on questing though, as the spirit bears will ask you to bring them certain items which can trigger their memories. You get a set number of tasks per day, and then you’ll have to wait for the next day to progress more. I actually like this mechanic a lot, since I can just pop in for 30-60 minutes to knock out the daily quests. Or I can keep playing and take care of other tasks around the island. It’s all up to you how you want to play.

There is a hidden object element to the fetch quests. Often the items will blend into the background or be hidden behind other objects. You’ll always have a hint of where to look, but sometimes these tiny objects are hard to spot. They really do blend in with the surroundings, so you’ll have to look carefully. I prefer to play Cozy Grove in handheld mode for this reason; it puts the island right in my eyeballs!

You can also decorate the island to your liking. This is actually one aspect of the game that I don’t play with at all. There are tons of crafting recipes to learn and so many furniture sets that you can make. However, the default island decor changes with time. As you meet more spirit bears, the island expands. The scenery can also shift day to day, so I don’t see the point in putting decorations, since their surroundings will be different in a couple of days making it look completely different. This does keep the fetch quests interesting since one day the “tree with a bird nest” will be in one spot, and another day it’ll be across the island.

The controls do take a bit of getting use to, as you need to access multiple menus and then press different buttons for different actions. Moving around the map is straight forward enough, using the left joystick to walk and the B button to run. You’ll need to press different buttons to access your backpack, achievements, quest log, and main menu. And the select button can be different depending on what menu you’re in and what action you’re taking. Then there’s activities like fishing, stone skipping, and taking photos which all have different but similar controls. Playing every day helps burn them to memory, but I still find myself choosing the wrong button at times.

Another minor complaint is the lag in the later game. As the island grows, it also loads more slowly. If your character is running, they may reach an area before it’s fully rendered. There’s also quite a bit of stuttering when talking to spirits. The game doesn’t completely stop, but for longer play sessions the number of hiccups do add up.

Replayability

Cozy Grove is one of those games that entices you to play every day. Each day you get your quests and unlock memories to move the story forward. It takes a lot of time. At the time of writing this post I was nearing day 300, but stopped playing since the daily quests were getting repetitive. I do still have a ton of missing collectibles, which I look forward to finding once I feel like getting back into the game. That will be sometime after I decide to get the DLC which adds even more characters and collectibles. This game will keep you busy for a good long time.

Given how long the game takes to complete, I don’t think I’d ever start over. There’s so much to do past the end credits that it doesn’t make sense to “beat” it and then go again. Maybe after doing everything, I’ll want to stick with the characters for longer. But the end is nowhere in sight yet.

Overall

Cozy Grove certainly lives up to its name. This game is just cozy and relaxing. There’s no pressure to rush through anything. Sure, some of the quests have time limits, but if you miss it, there’s no penalty. You just get a new task later on. I like to play this one in the evening, after dinner to wind down for the day. I’m also a huge fan of collecting and achievements, and there’s no shortage of either in Cozy Grove. Every time I finished one I had a sense of accomplishment.

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