It’s been just over a year since Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched, and for a few months now I’ve been left searching for a new, engaging life-sim that will scratch that itch. Now Cozy Grove on Apple Arcade has come into my life.
In Cozy Grove, you play as a Spirit Scout that’s sent to an abandoned, haunted island in order to soothe the spirits of local ghosts, who just so happen to be adorable animals. When you begin, the island is full of sepia tones, but as you explore and complete tasks for the spirits each day, beautiful, vibrant colours and joy returns to the world.
Before starting, I highly recommend turning down the SFX volume in-game to improve your experience, otherwise, every action will deafen you rather than put you in a place of relaxation. Secondly, controllers are supported and greatly improve the experience, as they combat a rather clumsy screen tapping method of traversal.
Cozy Grove is a charming, hand-drawn game that has you performing the same menial, yet oddly satisfying jobs as Animal Crossing, but with a spooky twist. The tasks include fishing, digging up holes, harvesting fruits, and much more in order to gather items for crafting and donating.
Despite the in-game actions feeling similar to Animal Crossing, Cozy Grove still manages to feel unique with its art style, general ambience, comforting soundtrack (once the SFX volume is reduced), and a story that holds a lot more weight to it than you would expect from a casual life-sim.
The twist that truly sets it apart and makes the game feel unique is the spooky story. I enjoyed speaking to the quirky spirits to learn more about the island and complete various fetch quests for them. As Cozy Grove runs in real-time, you’re able to pop in each day on your downtime to speak to the islanders and receive a new task.
Most of the spirits have you searching for a lost item or collecting a certain amount of goods to craft something new. Some of these tasks feel slightly repetitive, and despite the island being fairly small, it’s strangely difficult to find some of the items hidden around the map. You can combat this by paying a small fee in-game, but I did feel like I was cheating each time I handed over gold for a hint.
The more quests you complete, the closer you become with each of the spirits. It’s a true joy returning each day to get to know each of the eccentric spirit’s personalities a bit better and to help return colour to the island.
Unfortunately, the number of things to do each day is a bit limited. I found that you can fetch all of the required items for each spirit, and harvest a hefty amount of goods from the small island in about half an hour. This is perfect for someone with a short amount of time to spend on games each day, however, I would love a couple of extra activities to perform on a day with a couple of hours to spare.
If you need something to fill the void left by Animal Crossing, Cozy Grove is definitely the game for you. It has a unique and endearing vibe with adorable characters that will leave you wanting more.