When I was young, I got Animal Crossing: Wild World for my birthday. Every Saturday night, I would hide beneath the covers and pop into The Roost to catch a K.K Rider show. To this day, I sometimes put Go K.K Rider! on just to relish in the nostalgia. Unfortunately, as I have gotten older, my love for the Animal Crossing franchise has waned. When New Horizons was released, I was thoroughly disappointed. I chalked it up to age and that my taste in games changed. That was until I played Cozy Grove, the game that single-handedly made me feel like that young boy, hiding beneath his covers, jamming out to K.K Rider one last time.
“What makes Cozy Grove so special is that it is a break. It acts more as a holiday than a game you need to dedicate hours of time to.”
Cozy Grove is all about taking a break. Sometimes my day to day life can get seriously overwhelming. I’ll slump on the sofa, staring out of the window with glassy eyes, and think back to my youth. In that state, I don’t want to do anything. Picking up my Switch, turning on an epic JRPG or blasting my way through enemies in an FPS sounds exhausting. But somehow, Cozy Grove doesn’t. Turning it on feels effortless. Exploring its world, talking with its colourful cast of characters, chilling out by the beach as the stars twinkle above me, all of it feels easy. There are times as I’m relaxing with my newfound friends when I feel genuinely at ease. I feel as if all the issues in my life could just float away.
What makes Cozy Grove so special is that it is a break. It acts more as a holiday than a game you need to dedicate hours of time to. In Animal Crossing, I found myself aimlessly trying to find meaning and worth in its systems and gameplay loops. I would wander around picking flowers, mining rocks and talking aimlessly to villagers with the hopes of achieving something. But in Cozy Grove, I know just when to stop. In fact, the game tells you exactly when you should. I treat every excursion to Cozy Grove like a holiday away from my everyday mundane life. It may only last upwards of forty minutes, but it’s a peaceful, meaningful forty minutes. It offers me a sweet moment of respite to gather my thoughts, to relax and unwind, before jumping back into the real world.
“It’s a treat to come and go, to say hello to the island’s residents, see what they need doing for that day, listening to their witty anecdotes and punny jokes, and then leaving with a full heart.”
These shorter sessions mean that coming back day in and day out feel rewarding. It is the same reason that playing mobile games until my lives run out and then coming back the next day is fun. I never felt burnt out when playing Cozy Grove. It’s a treat to come and go, to say hello to the island’s residents, see what they need doing for that day, listening to their witty anecdotes and punny jokes, and then leaving with a full heart. Whenever I switch it off, I feel like I’m watching someone leave Terrace House. On the one hand, it is sad to leave. On the other, I know I’ll be back soon. I feel a stronger connection to the cast of characters as a result.
Cozy Grove isn’t without its issues. There’s often pop-in when venturing around the island with trees and foliage appearing out of nowhere as more of the map is revealed. The game can be extremely fetch-quest heavy, with missions often requiring you to find something for one of the spirits. I also found that I frequently hit against foliage and would have to manoeuvre my character around it.
“Playing Cozy Grove really is like recapturing your youth, or at least it was to me.”
But honestly, that’s it. Cozy Grove is so full of charm and beauty that it is hard to fault it. Its stunning art style helps solidify the cosy atmosphere. It’s detailed enough but characteristically cartoony, with characters sporting large expressive features and fantastically whimsical designs.
The music helps create a soothing ambience. Listening to it feels like nestling up to a crackling fire draped in a fluffy blanket. It’s unbelievably relaxing to listen to and complements the slower, more thoughtful nature of Cozy Grove’s gameplay and world. I found that the fetch quest nature of Cozy Grove was never irritating nor boring. The short play sessions ensure they never feel tedious, and it is always refreshing to help out the islanders. They give me a reason to care about them, and as such, I never felt that helping them was a chore.
There’s a lot in Cozy Grove, so much more than what I’ve touched on. But I feel like reading a review of it won’t really help you gauge how it feels to play it. Playing Cozy Grove really is like recapturing your youth, or at least it was to me. It reminded me of why I love video games, of how they’re able to capture so many emotions even into such a short play session. If you go into Cozy Grove with the understanding that it is a break, a holiday away from the monotony of real life, then you’ll have a perfect time.
“I look forward to when I can tuck into bed and play Cozy Grove”
I think back to my youth, of hiding beneath the blanket, the DS screen blindingly bright, and playing Animal Crossing: Wild World into the wee hours of the morning. Before, I used to look back and feel sad, nostalgic for a better time. Now, I look forward to when I can tuck into bed and play Cozy Grove before sleeping soundly and dreaming of a better future. Cozy Grove is an exceptional game and one that I cannot begin to recommend enough. Do yourself a favour, relax, unwind, draw yourself a bath, hide beneath your cover or just lie on the sofa. Grab your Nintendo Switch, boot up Cozy Grove and say hi to Jeremy from me. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.