Cozy Grove is a life sim that's a little bit Animal Crossing and a little bit Where's Wally? Your character is a Scout, and has become stranded on an island inhabited by friendly ghost-bears who always seem to be losing things. It's a cute little game, with a great art-style and innovative use of colour. It does, however, suffer from a repetitive gameplay loop, with not enough unique activities to be doing each day.
Firstly, a note on performance. Cozy Grove struggles on Switch, with major FPS drops after turning in quests, and general stuttering when running around. It is playable, but you might find it annoying, and it certainly should run better than it does, given it isn't graphically-intensive. In handheld, the game runs about the same.
The game is a slow-burner, but it's supposed to be. It begins with a simple, non-binary character customiser, and then gives you a fetch quest. You'll be getting a lot of these. In fact, the gameplay is based around them, as each bear you unlock will have a fetch quest for you, which can be done at your leisure. Find this lost book, bring me three uncommon fish, retrieve my carrot from this imp - little spirits - that sort of thing. It gets repetitive pretty fast, unfortunately. Although, if you like a routine that you can get into for twenty to forty minutes a day, this game could offer you hours of content.
Before you say "Well, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the same!", there's something missing here for me. The island doesn't feel your own, for one, with static bears and a greyscale colour palette. This inertia of the bears seems to be so you know where to find them every day to get missions, but it affects the level of immersion I got from playing, since things never really changed.
This greyscale turns to colour after finishing quests, but then resets the following day. You can only harvest certain resources in colour, and it's much easier to spot items, so while I love the creativity here, it falls flat, and makes gameplay a chore.
Another issue I have with the game is the lifeless collectibles. There are hundreds, but none feel unique (except perhaps some rarer fish), and the process of depositing them into the game's museum equivalent is a nightmare. You can only deposit one at a time and then you have to restart the entire dialogue, which artificially extends game time and becomes exhausting. Placeable items, however, are pretty fun and decorative, from furniture to potted plants, but they don't have any interactable elements, which is a shame.
Cozy Grove's art style is the highlight, being a hand-drawn style like Don't Starve with a similar isometric viewpoint. When places do become colourful, the contrast with the black-and-white is impressive, and 'painting' the island, by putting lamps down to extend light, for example, can be cool. Unfortunately, colour can also cause some stuttering, but not enough to greatly impact gameplay. Sound design is also great, helping to strengthen the campsite feel. The main theme does get tiresome though, so I wish there were some more tracks.
Overall, Cozy Grove is worth playing. It's a cute alternative to Animal Crossing, though I don't think it quite lives up to its level of immersion - which was never too much to begin with. Despite this, its art style and unique use of colour might be enough to keep you around, but its repetitive gameplay loop unfortunately became too tedious for me.
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