Cozy Grove is like Animal Crossing, when it’s haunted

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One of the things that makes Animal Crossing so special that it is soothing. There are not many other games like this one; it’s relaxing and comforting in a way that most games aren’t. Sometimes it feels less like a game and more like a relaxing space to hang out in. But now New horizons has been out for over a year, maybe you’re looking for something a little different. Cozy Grove may be just what it is: it has a lot of what makes it Animal Crossing so great but in a tighter packaging. There are also many ghosts.

Like New horizons Cozy Grove drop you off on a seemingly deserted island with the aim of turning it into a bustling city. The difference is that in Cozy Grove, the island used be inhabited. And it still is. When you first arrive, it is usually devoid of color and life. But eventually you will meet some ghosts, and if you help them, life will slowly return. You are helped by a conscious campfire – reminiscent of Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle – who constantly wants to eat something called spiritwood.

What you actually do in the game is very similar Animal CrossingYou can catch fish, collect fruits, collect shells and craft new tools and items to decorate your campsite. There are no time limits or penalties for failure. But Cozy Grove is a bit more structured. The ghosts, who are all cute animals, will ask for very specific things like finding lost earmuffs or catching fish for dinner. You can complete a handful of these tasks each day, which can earn you some ghost wood; feed enough for your fire, and the island will grow.

It’s a good system for those who need that extra bit of structure, and Cozy Grove also does something unexpected: it encourages you to log out. There are only a handful of quests per day, and they probably take less than 30 minutes to complete. After that, you’re free to do whatever you want – fish, decorate, craft – but the game makes it clear that you won’t be able to continue until the next day. It’s always nice when a game respects your time. Like Animal Crossing Cozy Grove has become a habit for me, a nice place to dive into every day for a short period. It helps that the hand-drawn world is incredibly charming. There’s even some hilarious writing and knowledge to dig into if you really want to.

Cozy Grove is now available through Apple Arcade and I’ve found it perfectly suited for mobile devices. As soon as I get notified that new quests are available, I jump into the game for 20 minutes, and then I’m done. It may be the most peaceful part of my day. For those who are not subscribed to Apple’s gaming service, Cozy Grove is also coming to the Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC on April 8th.