Returning Color To A Haunted Island

HIGH The art style is wonderful.

LOW Time-gating content holds the experience back.

WTF Postmaster Bear received a package of bloody bear claws…

I am a Spirit Scout, floating along the sea on a mission to a colorless island that rumors say is pretty haunted.

On my first day, I pitch my tent and get my campfire roaring. The fire’s spirit, Flamey, tells me that there are other spirits here and that it is my duty as a Spirit Scout to assist them.

After looking around, I find a ghostly-looking bear. This bear used to be the ranger of the island, and she tells me that it’s official name is Camp Cozy Grove.

After talking with the bear (her name is Charlotte) and helping her, the island begins to grow and color begins to return.

There are many, many lost souls on the island that need, and there are many, many places still lacking color. This is how my mission begins.

Cozy Grove suggests some distinct inspirations, from the 2D characters in a 3D environment art style, to the concept of taking an abandoned island and building it up — both Animal Crossing and Don’t Starve come to mind. That said, Spry Fox’s work has much deeper story elements going on.

After going through the first day on the island, I was able to help out a couple of spirits who each had their own quests, although most of the time it boiled down to searching the island for specific items and bringing them back. After completion, the Scout will get some coins and maybe an item or a ‘spirit log’ for Flamey the campfire. Some color will also return to the island.

This color appearing is a wonderful sight to see as things start to come back to life. Of course, there are still huge areas of the island that stay colorless at first, but as the days go on, meeting new spirits and taking on their quests will revitalize the area.

Unfortunately, after I logged off for the day, returning the next time shows that the island loses the color the spirits brought back the day before, and the process of re-revitalization would have to continue by progressing each spirit’s story via tasks like harvesting ore or collecting plants. Luckily the tasks don’t take too long to do, and bringing back the color every day is a satisfying feeling.

Speaking of progressing the stories, Cozy Grove seems cute and chill at first, but I suspect that more time will reveal some darkness. For example, I completed a quest for the Postmaster, and he told me that he gets weird packages delivered. The last one he received? A box full of blood-soaked bear claws. Considering this spirit tells the Scout that he was in the military before becoming a spirit, I have a feeling this story is going to get rough. I haven’t fully finished any of the individual stories as of the time this review was written, but it’s a slow process as much of the content is time-gated.

I have to be honest, I’m not a big fan of games slowing down the process of seeing new content. After my first day with Cozy Grove, I had only played about 30 minutes of it before Flamey told me to come back tomorrow for more stuff to do.

This basic rhythm repeats every time the player logs on — helping the spirits is almost like doing dailies in an MMO, and once that’s done there’s nothing substantial to do. There is some decorating to do and some crafting available, but the only useful items I found were lamps that create light to bring more color to the island. Otherwise, these tasks can get old pretty quickly.

After a few days of Cozy Grove for 20-30 minutes at a time, I started to forget about the game entirely, and several days would pass before I realized I hadn’t played at all. making any real strides is a pretty slow process, but I will say that meeting a new spirit is exciting since each one has their own personality and job. From the giant fox-bear that is the camp’s merchant to a shipwrecked seagull that doesn’t realize it’s a giant bird, they’re all strange, but strange in the best way possible.

Cozy Grove‘s time-gated content slowed the pace of play too much for me. I love the art style and bringing color back to the island, but when each session’s content ends up being exhausted after 30 minutes or less, it was too easy to forget the whole thing and divert my attention elsewhere. I do look forward to learning more about the spirits, I just wish it wasn’t so slow!

Rating: 6 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Spry Fox LLC. It is currently available on XBO, XBX/S, PS4, Switch, iOS and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 8 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and contains Alcohol References and Comic Mischief. I never came across any alcohol references, but the one-off comments spirits make about their deaths can be a bit dark. One character talks about drinking poison, while another talks about bloody bear claws.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles for everything. There is no voice acting. The subtitles cannot be altered or resized. (See examples above.) There are no audio cues needed for gameplay. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. There is no control diagram.

Touch Screen Controls: Walk – Tap to walk to the location tapped, or tap-and-hold to follow the cursor.
Run – Double-tap-and-hold.
Interact – Tap objects of interest.

Gamepad Controls: Walk – Use the D-pad or left stick to walk in the corresponding direction.
Run – Hold the B button (Xbox/Switch) or Circle button (PS4 controller) while walking.
Interact – Press the A button (Xbox controller) or X button (PS4 controller) near objects of interest.

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