I’ve never been able to get into Animal Crossing, despite normally loving these kinds of casual, slice-of-life collectathons. However, I do think Cozy Grove is better for people like me who, for whatever reason, don’t care for Animal Crossing. The art style is great, movement and dialogue are fast-paced, and the concept of helping ghosts is pretty engaging. But it’s still not quite there. The game’s insistence that it is like Animal Crossing is actually its biggest detriment, because the real-time clock adds nothing of value. I can max out everything there is to do in a day in 30 minutes, and then I have to wait (in real life) until tomorrow for new quests to become available. And when I do boot the game up the next day, my character will abruptly fall asleep to signal the passing of time. It’s such a little thing, but this blatant “you started a new day” animation totally breaks any immersion I was supposed to get from a real-time clock. At the very least, my character should already be asleep!
I think Cozy Grove would have worked better if it behaved more like another game called Farm Together. In that game, your crops still grew in real time, but you were not beholden to any day-to-day schedule. So you could play the game in the morning, water all your crops, and then check back in the evening to harvest everything. Yes, Cozy Grove has things that can supposedly be harvested ’round the clock, too, but any actual missions are timeboxed to the day, not the hour. It also doesn’t help that the majority of the missions are simply “I lost something; go find it.” This feels like a glorified hidden object game at times, though I do like being given clues (e.g., it’s near a tarp) that guide me towards where to look. Unfortunately, as your island starts to fill out more, these hidden objects become harder to spot amid all the clutter.
There is simply too much junk in this game. Yes, I praised the art style earlier, but that doesn’t absolve the fact that trees, houses, statues, etc. frequently block your view. It’s also not easy to interact with the object you’re intending, at least with a controller. My character would constantly go into her tent instead of petting the nearby bird or run over to a tree to shake instead of mining the ore deposit sitting next to it. And, of course, all of this leads into having a bunch of stuff fill up your inventory. Why do these games always give you such a small backpack? So, yeah, there are some annoyances, but when played in 30-minute chunks, I guess it’s okay. I’m still enjoying logging in every day to see what’s going on. But considering it takes roughly 100 real days to complete everything, I will probably tap out long before then.