Cozy Grove Review: Hattifnut Island

Every morning I wake up near my talking hearth and find that all the colors have disappeared from the small island again. Almost everything: the area around the fire and the places where I had placed the magic lamps in advance remained bright; the rest faded like an old photograph left in the sun. There are more and more magic lamps every day, someday I hope to paint the whole island. In the meantime, we need to go and talk to the local ghost bears and the fox trader …

Cozy Grove is another game (remembering Hokko Life) that will be hard to avoid being compared to Animal Crossing. A simulator of life on the island, fishing, running around with a net for beetles, furniture made from mushrooms and apple peels … But, unlike Hokko Life, Cozy Grove is an original and original game with many ideas of its own.

Our hero is Spirit Scout, and his / her task is to help restless ghosts find peace. (As the game tells us, all Ghost Scouts have unusual “pale” eyes that see through the veil of the ordinary world.) In order to pass the exam, the Young Scout had to row on his boat to a cozy familiar island with a pair of decent, almost tame ghosts. But, as usual, something went completely wrong, the GPS malfunctioned, the winds confused north with south-west, and we were washed ashore at Cozy Grove, a completely unexplored place with a bad reputation. And the boat was shattered by the ensuing storm. We are left with a tentatively assembled tent and a talking Flamey light. Ghost bears roam the area, it is not clear whether they are friendly or not. Well, let’s survive and build relationships! At the same time, we will find out what happened in this mysterious Cozy Grove.

The world, initially sketched with strokes, unfolds gradually and resembles either a fairy-tale horror, or an eerie fairy tale, in which melancholic and warm chords sometimes break through in the spirit of Tove Jansson’s books. Our leader from the scout squad writes encouraging letters, explaining why he cannot come and help, ghost bears reveal details from their past and present, from which goosebumps run. Motley imps run through the forest, which can be fed with potatoes and mushrooms; spirits of dead birds and deer appear as pets here. (In addition to magical craft essences, birds bring us eggs, and deer for some reason, bulbs.)

The artists did their best: the island is stunningly beautiful. And it also changes every day: where trees grew yesterday, now there is a small pond, where impenetrable thickets were poked with thorns – a bird’s nest. Only the main “markers” of the territory (the broken boat of the seagull captain, the mysterious throne of an ancient civilization, the workshop of the local blacksmith) remain unchanged.An hour a day, no more. It just won’t work for too long: quests respawn once a day. You can, of course, tweak the system clock (which is easier if you play on Switch, experienced veterans of Animal Crossing New Horizons have already perked up), if really necessary. But, honestly, it is much more pleasant to go in whenever you want, resting your soul on a small cozy island with ghosts – and you do not have time to get tired of the game. Too many titles now require us to “play 25 hours a day, daily, events, sales, events, do not click your beak, otherwise you will be late!” – it’s good that there are exceptions for once. And catching fish and insects, collecting shells, crafting – in Cozy Grove you can do as much as you like all day.

At first, such a mechanic – “play a little” – is similar to the principle of all of us joyfully loved-hated mobile games. “Three quests a day for free, you can get the rest for the money.” But this impression is deceiving, honestly, Cozy Grove is not going to sell any chests or premium packs to players, whether they are wrong. It’s just that life on a small island contributes to the leisurely passage of time. And, really, it is often even good to know that the game will not delay you until six o’clock in the morning without the right to correspond!

To the calm guitar sounds of the local soundtrack, we slowly equip Cozy Grove. We plant bushes and trees, arrange lamps that return 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 you have to stretch “chains” of lanterns along the entire coast. After all, even blackberry bushes do not bear fruit without light! And blackberry jam, by the way, can be sold at a good price to the fox trader Mr. Keith.

At night, fireworks explode over the beach – a joyous sign of the summer festival, during which you can craft all kinds of palm trees, fireworks and ice cream trays. In the water not far from the coast, huge colored shells open up; if you throw a pebble at them, they will give coins or even pearls. Big fish swim to the pier, wagging their tails, and go to the depths. Fireflies whisper to ghosts in the dark undergrowth. Here is such a magical little island, Cozy Grove, a daily short-lived ritual, a charming and unique indie project ..