‘Cozy Grove’ is not ashamed of me

There are, it seems, endless choices when it comes to gaming. With increasing backward compatibility, the trend to remaster old games, and a plethora of new titles coming out every week, there’s always something new. That can make it difficult to decide what to play. And it can make it even harder to choose which titles are worth keeping in rotation.

But here’s the problem: I’m really bad at going back to games I didn’t play anymore. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Ghost of Tsushima was a great game that I only finished about a quarter of the time because something else piqued my interest. Immortals: Phenyx Rising? Got all the way to the last mission and got sidetracked. My list of unfinished games is similar to the list of completed titles – and growing.

However, there is one game that defies all this. A game I keep coming back to after months of doing nothing: Cozy Grove.

This game certainly got me through some rough times, but it’s not nostalgia or gratitude that keeps me coming back. It’s the fact that I’m not ashamed of leaving it alone for long periods of time or demanding more from me than I can give.

Cozy Grove also artfully dodges all my trouble remembering control – it’s so simple, so easy, and so intuitive that there’s never a learning curve. Whether it’s a day, a month, or a year, I never forget how to play. The quest view is also expansive and easy – there’s never any confusion about where I’ve gone, where to go, or what to do. I loved Spiritfarer, but it requires players to have way too much information in their head while playing. I will never pick it up again because I have no idea what I was working on when I stopped. The diary in the game is unfortunately quite simple.

That said, Cozy Grove isn’t alone. There are many games with such a simple control mechanism, detailed quest log and continuous story to help you settle back into a game after a long time – Animal Crossing: New Horizons comes to mind. But when I wanted to get back to that with the recent DLC, it didn’t stick. The game shamed me for my absence, right down to the comments from my villagers and the cockroaches in my house. Guilt is not gaming.

The characters in Cozy Grove keep me hooked too. The premise of the game is that you are a Spirit Scout sent to an island to help a bunch of ghost bears go to the afterlife. While I ran errands for the bears (how many damn fish do you need, Captain Snout?), I got to know them. I have come to care about them and their stories, and I want to know the truth behind each of their journeys.

It’s bittersweet and even sad, but it’s surprisingly rewarding considering that often you’re just collecting a bunch of fruit and sticks and rocks. Frankly, I’d feel awful if I didn’t see through the story because right now I’m invested in these bears finding an end even if it’s all made up.

The bottom line is that Cozy Grove works the way I need it to and doesn’t demand more than I can give (or remember). It feels like the perfect game for my weird little brain, and it’s nice to know it’s there when I need it.

Excuse me, the bears are calling my name.

This post ‘Cozy Grove’ is not ashamed of me

was original published at “https://www.wired.com/story/cozy-grove-does-not-shame-me/”

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