Cozy Grove Review: Ghost Island

A cozy campfire at night

Every morning I wake up next to my talking hearth and discover that all the colors have disappeared from the small island again. Almost all: the area around the bonfire and the places where I strategically placed magical lamps remain bright; the rest has faded like an old photograph left in the sun. The number of magical lamps increases every day, and someday I hope to color the entire island. But for now, I need to go and talk to the local bear ghosts and the fox merchant Cozy Grove – one more game Remembering Hokko Life), which will be hard to avoid comparing to Animal Crossing. Life simulator on an island, fishing, running around with a net to catch bugs, furniture made of mushrooms and apple peels… But, unlike Hokko Life, Cozy Grove is a unique and original game, with plenty of its own ideas.

A tranquil garden scene

Our hero is Spirit Scout, and their task is to help restless spirits find peace. (As the game tells us, all Spirit Scouts have unusual “pale” eyes that can see through the veil of the ordinary world.) The young Scout was supposed to row their boat to a cozy familiar island with a couple of decent, almost tame spirits as part of their exam. But, as usual, something went completely wrong, the GPS malfunctioned, the winds mixed up north and south-west, and we ended up on the shore of Cozy Grove, a completely unexplored place with a bad reputation. And the boat was destroyed by a subsequent storm. All we have left is a makeshift tent and a talking flame named Flamey. There are ghostly bears wandering around, it’s unclear whether they are friendly or not. Well, we’ll survive and build relationships! And in the process, we’ll find out what happened in this mysterious Cozy Grove.

Exploring a mystical forest

The world, initially sketched with strokes, gradually unfolds and resembles either a fairy horror or a creepy fairy tale, in which melancholic and warm chords occasionally break through in the spirit of Tove Jansson’s books. Our scout leader writes encouraging letters, explaining why he won’t be able to come and help, ghost bears reveal details from their past and present, which send shivers down your spine. Various imps run through the forest, which can be fed with potatoes and mushrooms, and as pets here, there are spirits of deceased birds and deer. (In addition to magical craft essences, birds bring us eggs, and deer – for some reason, bulbs.)

The artists did a great job: the island is stunningly beautiful. And it changes daily: where trees grew yesterday, there is now a small pond, where impenetrable thickets were bristling with thorns – a bird’s nest. Only the main “markers” of the territory (the broken boat of the seagull-bear captain, the mysterious throne of an ancient civilization, the workshop of the local blacksmith) remain unchanged. And, of course, your camp – an island of unwavering reality in a ghostly haze.

A beautiful sunrise in a serene setting

The main feature of Cozy Grove is that you have to play it little by little. An hour a day, no more. It’s not possible to sit for a long time: quests respawn once a day. Of course, you can adjust the system clock (which is easier if you play on Switch, experienced Animal Crossing New Horizons veterans have already figured it out), if you really need to. But, honestly, it’s much nicer to come in when you want, relaxing your soul on a small cozy island with ghosts – and you don’t have time to get tired of the game. Too many titles now require us to “play 25 hours a day, dailies, events, sales, don’t blink, or you’ll be late!” – it’s good that there are exceptions once in a while. And you can catch fish and insects, collect seashells, craft – you can do all this in Cozy Grove all day long.

At first, this mechanic – “play a little bit” – seems similar to the principle of mobile games that we all love and hate. “Three quests a day for free, the rest you’ll get for money.” But this impression is deceptive, I swear, Cozy Grove doesn’t intend to sell players any, God forbid, chests or premium packs. It’s just that life on a small island promotes a leisurely flow of time. And, honestly, it’s often good to know that the game won’t keep you until six in the morning without the right to correspondence!

A mysterious, glowing plant

Under the calm guitar picking of the local soundtrack, we slowly settle into Cozy Grove. We plant bushes and trees, arrange lamps to bring brightness to the island. The residents, whose daily tasks we have completed, also help with the “coloring”, but the ghostly colors are temporary – until the next morning, so we have to stretch “chains” of lanterns along the entire coastline. After all, without light, even blackberry bushes do not bear fruit! And by the way, you can sell blackberry jam to the fox-trader, Mr. Kit, at a good price.

At night, fireworks explode over the beach – a joyful sign of the summer festival, during which you can craft various palm trees, fireworks, and ice cream stands. In the water not far from the shore, huge colorful seashells open up, and if you throw a pebble into them, they will give you coins or even pearls. Big fish swim to the pier, flicking their tails, and then dive into the depths. Fireflies whisper with ghosts in the dark thickets. That’s the little magical island of Cozy Grove, a daily short ritual, a charming and unique indie project.

A peaceful seaside view

Cozy Grove
PC, PS4, Switch
RPG, Simulation
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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