Studio: Spry Fox
Released: April 7, 2021
A young spirit scout looking to earn her final merit badge becomes stranded at her destination–an island inhabited by the lost souls of bears. She must then help them to reclaim their memories, expanding the island in the process and creating a comfortable space to live among her newfound friends.
Cozy Grove is a sweet, laidback game that begins the player amid gray settings, which fill will color each time she or he helps a spirit or sets out a special type of lamp. Most of the missions involve locating missing items among the setting, looking behind trees, digging through leaf piles, or chasing around imps (just to name a few things). As a reward, the spirits might give players lamps (after filling their immediate area with color themselves), decorations, food recipes, or minerals. Or, most importantly, “spirit wood” used to increase the power of the scout’s talking campfire Flamey, who can then grow in strength and expand the island to reveal other spirits.
An interesting mechanic of the game is its reliance on following a real-world clock. For the PC version, as an example, the days and nights go by the clock on the computer, with only so many missions or tasks it is possible to accomplish each day. Resources like fruit or wood get replenished overnight, and the range of items available at the island’s store changes subtly. There are also characters who only pop up on the island during certain days in the week to show off their inventory or assign tasks. The noticeable time limit, however, feels like a way to keep players from getting lost in the game for hours at a time–which could be appropriate for parents worried about how much time their kids play each day.
The spirit bears themselves are also charming. Each one has a different theme and design based on their interests during their lives, such as the postal bear who resembles a package, or the artisan bear who looks like a tape measurer. They are also all friendly, and most of them enjoy receiving hugs from the player, so it is easy to get drawn into their individual stories and sympathize with them.
All these elements make Cozy Grove a, well, cozy, game to enjoy!