Dr Yemaya Halbrook
Cozy Grove: A perfect hour every day
Updated: May 22, 2021
Cozy Grove was first released for IOS on March 19th of this year with its PC and console launch shortly thereafter on April 8th. This game has brought a unique playstyle in which there is only so much you can do in a particular day in regard to storyline and quests. Now you can continue to fish and gather resources for a while, but even that can only be done for so long. Trust me. Whenever I finish my quests for the day, I spend about another 30 or so minutes going to every corner of my island multiple times seeing if I can collect any additional resources. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was also meant to capture a daily playtime limit of sorts, but not to the same extent as Cozy Grove. Sure, in AC you have to wait until the next day in order to move buildings or have new villagers move in, etc., but you can spend literally your entire day terraforming your island (I know, because I have). Cozy Grove, on the other hand, really limits your options unless you’re willing to time travel by changing the time and date on whatever platform you are currently playing on. It’s relatively simple on the Switch, but you can’t travel backwards without corrupting the save file, so you’ll have to keep track of the date you’ve set it to.
As a psychologist as well as an avid gamer who absolutely adores this game, I was curious as to what other people think of this limited daily playtime. I conduct a simple survey of Cozy Grove gamers by advertising on the sub-Reddit, Discord, Facebook group, and Twitter (I love being able to survey people without having to wait months for a university’s ethics committee’s approval). The Cozy Grove people even retweeted my survey which was absolutely awesome and helped me to get hundreds of responses! I asked the players what day they are currently on, have they time travelled, which system(s) they play on, what they like and don’t like about the limited daily playtime, and if they had any suggestions for future updates. Several of the participants definitely thought that I actually work for Spry Fox, which I don’t, but I certainly wouldn’t say no to being paid to analyse their responses! This alone demonstrates that the developers really listen to their players. Just go through their Twitter and you’ll see that they respond to so many questions and try to help people whenever they need it. This level of attention is not what you’re used to if you play mostly AAA titles. It’s amazing how much a small indie developer will listen and adapt for their gamers compared to bigger companies like Nintendo and Rockstar. Go indie developers!
Now, for anyone who knows or has ever worked with me, qualitative analyses are definitely not my area of expertise nor have I ever really considered them as powerful as statistics simply because it is less straightforward than maths. However, I must finally admit their merit as the only way to truly know what people think of this limited playtime was to ask them the actual question. A few key themes emerged for each question (I cannot believe I just wrote that and was totally happy to do so. Did I mention I’m a stats person?). In general, players enjoy the limited playtime as it is relaxing, can help them manage their time, and encourages them not to binge play the game to get through the storyline. For the most part, those who took the survey enjoy the game for its story, art, and music and love having the storyline unfold slowly each day. There were also a large number of people who say both the game itself and the daily tasks helps them to relax, lessens their anxiety, and even helps them to get out of bed in the mornings.
It’s very nice to have a game to look forward to playing every day, and I say that both from what I gathered in the survey and what I think personally. Sometimes I play during the day, but for the most part I go into bed about an hour before I want to sleep and just relax and take care of my bears. Which reminds me of my absolute favourite comment from the survey: ‘The bears are so cute I would die for them.’ They really are adorable. The soundtrack in the game is also amazing, but there is a particular song that is the most relaxing to me. When this song comes on after I’ve done most of my tasks, I turn the light off and just gather some resources until it’s done. It helps me relax and makes me sleepy enough that I can actual fall asleep relatively quickly after playing. I have some major issues turning off my brain sometimes, especially when I’m really busy, but there is something about this game that allows me to do that enough that I can fall asleep. It’s helped my sleeping pattern quite a bit, to be honest. But I digress. The purpose of this article is to discuss what other people think of the game, not me!
All of this positive feedback is great, but there are also some negatives to the limited playtime, even for those of us who really enjoy the limits. In essence, it’s nice to be able to organise time to play and get things done, but sometimes when you’ve a day off, you would really like to play all day. That is the biggest complaint from the players in my survey—they would like to option to continue playing for longer and do more quests if they have a full day-off. Some of the quests also take DAYS to complete (I’m looking at you, Jeremy Gruffle, give me my damn tools for Francesca), which can be a bit annoying. Although you garner some major satisfaction from completing quests, there are some days where you can’t progress too terribly far because of the grind to get resources or simply having to wait for a bear to give you what you need for a different bear. I suppose the point of this is to teach players how to be patient and the instructions for the quests LITERALLY say: ‘be patient, it may take several days to complete,’ so it’s not like it’s a shock that some things will take longer than others. That said, sometimes I just want to get that stupid undeveloped photo today! Or at the very least, it’d be nice to know which day I’m going to get it. The planner in me wants to know alllll the things.
There were also many requests for future improvements to the game. These answers came before the 1.6.2 update and amazingly, some of the comments have already been addressed in this latest update. The most notable improvement is the ability to craft any number of items you want, not just one or max. Jesus, that was annoying. I am way too impatient to sit there and select craft one over and over because I only want a handful, not a dozen. It’s also been pretty laggy on the Switch at times, though this has been significantly improved since release. There was also a bug mentioned for the Switch—sometimes when the buy menu is open for Kit or Lee Berry, the lights do this weird strobe rave-like thing. It’s happened to me, too, but someone also reported it in the survey. There are, however, many requests for things that have not yet been addressed in updates.
Firstly, one of the most requested improvement is the ability to sort clothes and really just items in general. Having a ‘sort by type’ option would make things soooo much easier. If all the hats were at the top, you could just choose the hat and then move on to the rest of the outfit. Same thing with the actual storage. Maybe it is easier to move things around on mobile or other consoles but having to press R3 on the switch to move one item at a time takes ages. The organiser in all of us would appreciate storage being a bit cleaner.
The whole ‘look behind something’ can also be super frustrating. My eyesight, and others who took the survey, can be atrocious and often times, the item is in front of the landmark, not behind. I know the instructions really mean to look behind things in general, but still. It can be difficult to locate things. Having the option to buy a hint, though, is really nice. This both a personal opinion and something that was noted in the improvements question of the survey. One player in particular said they were colour blind and some sort of accessibility option would help. I’m not entirely sure how that could be addressed, but it is something worth noting.
Another major request has to do with the collision and invisible object. Looking for quest items means running around the island with the clues, which is totally fine because that’s literally the purpose of the game, but sometimes the character gets stuck in things. I’ve had this issue myself and many of the players indicated they have as well. If the object can become invisible, there shouldn’t be a way for you to get stuck. On multiple occasions I’ve spoken to Captain Billweather, but because he was next to the ship, my character went inside the ship. I then had to wait until he moved because I was otherwise stuck. This has also happened with the mayor’s statue and was noted in the comments from the survey. Some players (myself included) have had to go back to the main menu and reload the game entirely. A possible way around this would be having the ability to clean up the island like you can in AC. I run into things all the time and often times can’t see places where I can get resources or pick up items just because it is so cluttered.
There were some other notable quality of life suggestions. For example, it would be great to know how many essences/precious gems you have in storage before purchasing an item. Having a personal checklist for what’s been donated instead of going to the Captain and/or a checklist to see if you’ve talked to a bear already would be very helpful, especially as more items and bears become available. The more bears on the island, the more likely I am to forget if I’ve already helped them for the day! A checklist like this could also have how much an item will sell for, or even just include this with the actual item itself. These could be implemented in a similar manner as the phone in AC. You don’t want to buy a new potted flower if you’ve already donated it, but it can also be annoying to go back and check with Captain Bellweather. By the way, those common flowering bushes that don’t like common objects? Come on, don’t be so snobby. One player’s comment: ‘Don't trust flowering bushes. They're hiding something. A common that dislikes other commons, they must be up to something!’ Super sus.
Being able to purchase/bake/craft more than one thing without having to go through the dialogue again was also a common suggestion. That and for the shop, you end up back at the top and have to scroll back to whatever other item you want. Having to wait an hour for baked goods also kind of defeats the purpose of the limited playtime. If you start up the game and need to feed your birds, you’d probably like to be able to do it immediately. Why can we craft items and get them right away but not with cooking? If this stays the case and we do have to still wait an hour, it would be nice to know how long there is left until it’s delivered. Should you stay playing until it arrives because it’ll only be five minutes? Or come back later? I know, I know, we can just keep track of the time ourselves. But sometimes it’s just nice to have the game implement it for you. Speaking of feeding the birds, if they could switch up what they wanted sometimes, that’d be great. I haven’t been able to feed one of my birds for days because I don’t have the stuff to make their stupid salad. Be less picky, damnit! Though supposedly with the upcoming update the salads will require fewer onions, thank goodness.
There were some other less common suggestions, but they are important to mention, nonetheless. There are some quests that can’t be started immediately because they require a bear that doesn’t exist yet. In the beginning of the game, there were several mentions about a baker bear, but I hadn’t unlocked her! Needing a photo from Arjun Bhalla who didn’t exist yet was a bit confusing because unless you look it up, you’re not entirely sure what to do about it. It’s also been noted that imps sometimes take the object one of the other imps wanted. I only had one walnut and it got wasted by a greedy imp who ate it before the targeted one could. Lastly, having an upgraded tool that still gives you the same amount of resources is a bit annoying, especially when it can break and requires loads of materials to repair. Getting 3 coins is absolutely useless, so it really shouldn’t be an option. I don’t want to collect meaningless resources and then spend 8 relic ashes to repair the tool, you know?
Even with all of this feedback and suggestions for improvements, players love the game overall. The music, atmosphere, graphics, they are all perfectly suited for a relaxing playtime. There is definitely a grinding aspect to the game and the storyline is slow compared to playing something like Spiritfarer (also a great game, by the way), but that is the charm of Cozy Grove. You don’t play it to get through the entire storyline in a weekend. The game is now a part of many people’s daily routines, something which is extremely important since there are loads of countries that still have major restrictions. It’s amazing how a sense of accomplishment in a game effects your feelings in the real world. This was also the case when AC came out last year, but Cozy Grove takes it to a different level. With AC, there’s always more that you can or want to do each day. With Cozy Grove, though, you’ve a few select quests to do and then unless you want to collect some resources or fish, that ends your playtime. It is on most all platforms and unlike AAA titles, it’s completely affordable. There’s no pressure to keep playing—you can simply go and enjoy the rest of your day or head to bed as a good portion of the players seem to do. If that is the kind of game you like to play, I 100% recommend it.