Cozy Grove

A screenshot from Cozy Grove. It's a lovely ink and watercolour vibe island with the player holding a fresh fish, still on the fishing line, saying "Yeah, collapsed lungfish!"

Honestly, I was looking forward to Cozy Grove so much that I’d managed to get myself in a right old old pickle. It’s all quite embarrassing, really.

Just, you know, a gently spookified Animal Crossing style experience, designed to be played in small chunks and without the obnoxious monetisation of Pocket Camp dragging it down?

Oh, go on then.

Nearly a week on from picking it up and I’m really not disappointed in the slightest. Cozy Grove is an absolutely lovely game. It’s gorgeous to look at, the writing is whimsical and often as funny as it is charming (and it is remarkably charming) and it really does fill the Animal Crossing but in short sessions void I’d hoped it would.

It’s the game I’d originally hoped Pocket Camp would be and it is but transplanted from Tom Nook’s capitalist hellhole world to a more genteel, kind, spoopy island. A game where it feels less like you’re perpetually engaged in repetitive transactions with animals who just want things from you and can never be satisfied and more everyone helps each other here.

It's a screenshot from Cozy Grove. It's night time and the grove is lit by an abundance of lights.Deck chairs, shrubbery and more surround the player.

The writing has been uniformly wonderful so far. The item descriptions and all that stuff often raise a smile from me (more so for being the first game to truly understand hatred for shrubbery), the characters you meet on the island all have distinct personalities and a sideline in wry humour and slowly uncovering stories has been an absolute joy.

Most importantly, none of the ghosts of animals past are tools. Unlike certain Animal Crossing folk I could name.

Smartly, Cozy Grove is also designed to be played for only a short while, then put away again.

There’s no “energy” mechanic or amount of permitted moves before it starts putting the brakes on, you can tootle about at your own pace and do as much or as little of the day’s tasks but no more than the day’s tasks.

You can spend time fishing, hunting for hidden objects, brutalising shrubbery and doing multiple laps of the island. You just can’t grind and grind at it, the game isn’t interested in that.

It’s a really refreshing change and perhaps a sign that Cozy Grove work best on a portable device of some sort. I’m playing it on the PS4 though and it’s perfectly fabulous as it is. I can nip in once a day, knock a couple of tasks off the list, have a chill wander around the island and sell things to a fox.

Not sure I need much else, to be honest. That all seems perfectly fine.

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