Picture this: You’re a Spirit Scout, fresh to your first real assignment. You arrive on a small, colorless island. Unfortunately, it looks like you’re going to be stuck there for the time being as your boat is rendered unusable. However, you do have some company – Flamey, your talkative campfire, helps direct you to find the island’s long-dead inhabitants. It turns out that Cozy Grove is the home to a number of bear ghosts. Each bear has a story, and you can progress it by doing small tasks for them – quite often it’s finding a lost object around the overgrown island, but other times they’ll need something from the shop, or a certain type of fish. Each day you can do a little more, and as you continue, you’ll bring colour and activity to an island that once looked completely lifeless.
In a world of “gotta get it done fast” Cozy Grove takes it slow
Cozy Grove is intentionally very time-gated. Each day has a small selection of tasks – they’re meant to be done within about a half hour’s time, but quite often I chose to do my daily adventures while enjoying a lunch or coffee break, and could easily stretch it over an hour. Being able to take it slow is great – you’re not being timed or rushed or asked to speed through in a couple minutes. If you’re really feeling like playing a bit longer, there’s a good amount of island upkeep and resource farming you can do. Feel free to relax in Cozy Grove with some fishing, island cleanup, and decorating.
Eventually these will dwindle down as well, and the game actively encourages the player to come back tomorrow. Some tasks even take the space of several days. Perhaps you need more coins, or maybe it’s just not the right day, or maybe you have a prerequisite that has yet to be completed. That’s okay – in a world of “gotta get it done fast” Cozy Grove takes it slow. It also doesn’t leave you hanging – if you’re truly stuck on finding something, you can buy directions for its location without much hassle. The game is as stress-free as you want to make it, and I love it for that.
The time-gating is smart and quite refreshing. The game doesn’t make it any secret that it’s meant to be a very small part of your day, over a long span of time. For me, having something to look forward to every day was fantastic, and it made it even better that I knew it would only take a little bit of time. Like a lot of people, I often find myself feeling too busy to really sit down and enjoy a game for hours, and how many games are there out there that are easy to pick up for thirty minutes and put back down? Cozy Grove gives me something to enjoy on the days where I can’t justify logging into an MMO or breaking out an RPG. It also helps me know when it’s time to put it down, mitigating the constant fear of falling behind that I felt in games where the grind is endless and there’s always more to be done. Spry Fox openly prides itself on looking after work-life balance, and it shows here.
Cozy Grove definitely lives up to its name. If you’re okay with taking it easy and experiencing things slowly, it provides a fantastic little refuge as we head further into 2021 – a year that sometimes feels just as hectic and stressful as its predecessor (at least to me). The writing is fantastic, the characters are fun, and it’s got all the love and charm of a hidden object game, hiding inside a life management sim. And best of all, it’s designed to fit into your life – not take it over.
Order Up! is a weekly column featuring indie-focused reviews, news, or interviews! We like old games just as much as new ones and are always looking for something to check out. Have a game recommendation, a project, or a company you want to talk about? Email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @ArcanaChance