Written by Toralar | Edited by Denayed, Originally Posted: October 10, 2021
We’re well into October and Halloween preparations are in full swing. It’s time to pull out the fake spiderwebs and drape them over trees and bushes, set up some scary skeletons and ghosts around the house (or apartment), and settle on a Halloween costume. It’s also the perfect time to play Cozy Grove, an indie game centered around helping ghosts fulfill their unfinished business on a not quite-so-deserted island.
You play as a novice spirit scout on your first solo mission, intent on finding a restless soul and helping them pass peacefully into the afterlife. But what was supposed to be a quick and easy adventure turns into something much bigger when you discover that the island you landed on is deeply haunted, and there are seventeen ghosts to help instead of just one. Then, as the cherry on top, your boat comes loose and drifts away, leaving you stranded on the haunted isle of Cozy Grove.
The art style is very warm and endearing, and the ghosts are friendly, cute bears with unique backstories. You’re also joined by a cheery sentient fire. Later in the game you can get ghostly pet birds and deer that give you special resources when you make them happy. Not so bad, right? Well, the fire grows larger and more terrifying when you feed it spirit logs, and you get those spirit logs by helping the ghosts. And when you help the ghosts, they share details about their pasts and deaths. Settle in, it gets very dark.
(Story Spoilers Ahead)
The first ghost you meet is a former spirit scout, Charlotte Pine, who ended up dying on the island while attempting to do the same thing you are. She helped many ghost bears, but eventually found one that she couldn’t help pass on. Charlotte became obsessed, neglecting her spirit fire – and everything else – until there were nothing left but embers. Then, hungry and alone, she accidentally ate a fatally poisonous mushroom.
Then there’s a ship captain named Billweather Snout, who died from a shipwreck caused by his heavy drinking. He was the captain of the Cozy Grove ferry, taking residents and visitors back and forth from the island to the mainland. Unfortunately, he had a bad habit of drinking while sailing and one night, too drunk to see the island, he steered the ferry into the rocks. Billweather and his passengers were killed, and every remaining bear on the island of Cozy Grove was left stranded.
And a postal worker, Patrice Furbac, who suffers from survivor’s guilt and PTSD after losing close friends during his time in the military. He was in the hospital with a broken wrist when his squad went out on a patrol and was ambushed. They didn’t make it back, and Patrice is consumed by the feeling that he should have been there to save them. He entered the postal service after that and in the afterlife, he receives disturbing and cursed packages that are tied to his guilt.
Despite all of the dark and unsettling backstories, it’s difficult to call Cozy Grove a scary game. The feeling from it is more akin to the short animated series “Over The Garden Wall.” It’s cute, engaging, and entertaining, but there’s always something waiting to make you slightly uneasy. That’s exactly what makes it the perfect game to play when you’re curled up under a blanket during a brisk October evening with ghosts and spirits haunting the neighborhood.