Do you like cute art? Deep storytelling? Maybe a little haunting? And well, Animal Crossing-type games? Well Cozy Grove is for you. But don’t worry, those aren’t just the only three reasons this game needs to be on your radar.
Cozy Grove is developed by Spry Fox and is published by Spry Fox and The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, it’s fairly simple. It’s all about camping on a haunted, ever-changing island. You enter the game as a Spirit Scout and you’re goal is to wander the island’s forest each day. Really, each day! Doing this, yo find secrets and interact with, learn from, and soothe the local ghosts.
There is an art to balancing storytelling that can hit the players heart in two completely different ways. In Cozy Grove, Spry Fox has created a game that taps into the cuteness of games like Animal Crossing with its gorgeously haunting and kawaii aesthetic and has brought that into the conversations that you have the with the spirits of the island. While you go about your daily activities and interact with the local ghosts you get to learn about them.
Over time, those conversations build into a narrative that hits cuteness, and other times, depending on the character, there are serious melancholic tales. But even in the sad stories, there is an air of whimsy to the dialogue. To explain it in the absolute simplest terms, it’s like Tim Burton made Animal Crossing and made the locals more important than just picking up DIYs from them. And that’s one of the beautiful elements of Cozy Grove because the island isn’t just about you, you aren’t it’s god. But you are a listener, a friend, and this puts empathy at the core of the game’s story.
You Can Play in Short Bursts
If you’re like me, finding time to dedicate to hours upon hours to dedicate to “beating” a game is hard. So, games I can put 30 minutes to an hour into a game and still get pay off are important. Cozy Grove can be played in longer sessions, but its strength is being able to play in short bursts over time. Unlike the crushing weight of chores in Animal Crossing, the fact that Cozy Grove is story-driven allows you to play in real-time, get a pay-off from the story, and then log-off for the day. When you come back, more options await you, and with that more relationships to make, decorations to craft, spirit animals to collect, and more.
Cozy Grove is cozy. It’s a game you can curl up with a cup of coffee with, enter the spooky cute island, and play as much or as little as you want. But the important thing here is that because elements change over time, there is a drive for you to come back day after day. The game boasts 40+ hours of campaign with additional side quests all developed to facilitate months – not just days, of play.
I Mean, It’s Gorgeous AND Inclusive
Just look at it. Cozy Grove has breathtaking art that is all hand-drawn. It’s whimsical with just the right amount of spooky. One element that I want to take the time to highlight, is the fact that even with a highly stylized the artists have managed to create a beautiful range of skin tones for your character. The varied shades of brown bring inclusivity that even AAA games of the genre don’t have. And not only that, the browns are warm, inviting, and that in and of itself is important when it comes to showcasing brown skin.
If you head to Spry Fox’s website, you’ll find that their motto is “make the world a better place.” And that’s exactly what the studio is doing with Cozy Grove. I may have only played the preview, but I was fully immersed in a world that I needed. While I know I have compared Cozy Grove to other games, it has to be said that the depth of storytelling it offers, its crafting, collecting, and visual art style make it stand apart from every other game. There isn’t anything like this out and to be honest, that alone should make you add this to your Steam wishlist right away.
Cozy Grove is releasing later this year – you can add it to wishlist NOW by heading to its Steam page.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.