Ah, "Cozy Grove." This all-ages game is essentially a heartfelt, significantly less capitalist version of "Animal Crossing: New Horizons," made for anyone who needs a break from that hit title. Though it does have a few key differences, like a richer plot and deeper character development, the fun of fishing, decorating, and getting to know the neighbors is all the same. Short daily playtime is a refreshing element of the game that keeps many fans coming back. Even critics sang the game’s praises. Still, there’s more to the game than what appears on the surface.
One thing that makes "Cozy Grove" so special is its complex layers. On one hand, you have cuddly bear friends shaped like corn cobs and tall trees. On the other, "Cozy Grove" does not shy away from serious and mature topics, some of which might not be noticed by younger players. From alcoholism to disenchantment with public service, read on to find out a few key game elements that hit home for adults.
Scoutmaster Blake’s sneaky cover-up
From your early days on the island, opening letters with postal bear Patrice Furbac is a key part of the daily grind. Often, Scoutmaster Blake will send along a note, though it becomes clear with time that no amount of rustic accessories he sends your way can make up for what he’s doing. In his sixth letter, the Scoutmaster shares the news that "your parents gave permission to extend your trip a bit longer," and he even "took the liberty of letting them know you’ll be late." He goes on to make light of his clear stress about the situation: "I’m sure you don’t want them to worry. Ha, people can get so upset when their children don’t come home! Ha ha ha."
While the Scoutmaster’s update letters are entertaining and elaborate, they’re also pretty eerie. Letter 20 has another gem that captures the essence of the Scoutmaster’s communications: "I’m so proud of you! Whether or not you’re still alive." As unsettling as the reality is, the letters themselves are actually pretty hilarious to adults who understand the dark irony of the situation.
The Mayor’s shady politics
Political corruption is nothing new, but in the form of an adorable yet shady spirit bear? That’s not been done before. Adults will appreciate the full level of Valentina Oso-Fisher‘s sketchiness in a way that anyone who isn’t old enough to vote likely won’t. Though it’s easy to sympathize with her stresses and struggles, she’ll constantly give you reasons to remember her unethical side.
Mayor Valentina doesn’t ask questions. She just calls the shots! Take the fact that she appoints you as her assistant and orders you around the island on cleaning and coffee missions, for example. It’s the ultimate unpaid internship.
However, Valentina’s shady side goes beyond being a tad controlling. She’s not just corrupt, but openly so. As she said, "It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Wise words, no doubt. Still, if someone wanted to test that theory out, I could be persuaded to volunteer my services." Whatever players’ political views, adults are sure to get a chuckle out of the sheer audacity of the Mayor and her corrupt politics.
Captain Billweather Snout’s grog problem
It doesn’t take long into "Cozy Grove" to learn that Captain Billweather Snout has a taste for grog. And of course, kids might not understand the full impact of this plotline since alcohol is an adult beverage.
The Captain seems to struggle with overconsumption, touching on the sensitive yet important topic of alcohol addiction that’s not often explored in gaming. Players are likely to develop empathy and compassion for the Captain since the game is careful to give him a rich, colorful personality and not define him by his addiction, though there’s also no beating around the bush.
Adults will notice the little "hic!" exclamations that make their way into the Captain’s dialogue when he’s under the influence. The bears of "Cozy Grove" all have their own problems to work through, and even though the Captain’s struggles are not easy to face, he’s well aware of them. Take this recurring chat quote, for example: "Aye, ’tis true that my reputation is of a grog-drinkin’ hardy. But I’ve been known to partake of the finer things as well…’Course, the finer things’ll give ye a crushing hangover just the same as the cheap stuff." This character always has a sense of humor, even in the tough times, which many adults will relate to.
If you or someone you know needs mental health and/or substance use disorder support, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for free, confidential, 24/7 support (English and Spanish available)
The (literal) wolf of Wall Street
Clyde Wallace‘s wolf-like form and ruthless business practices combine to make a great pun. This character contains some references to moneymaking in the modern world, the most notable of which has to be his own form of currency: Wolf Coin.
Especially in the context of the popularity of DogeCoin, the cryptocurrency that started as a joke and has gone on to create tons of hype, Wolf Coin hits right on the nose. It’s hilarious to see this new technology represented in the game in a way that clearly pokes fun at highfalutin businessfolk through Clyde’s persistent self-aggrandization and greediness. Whether players have no idea how crypto works or not, all adults get to join in the laughs all the same.
Even the origin story of Wolf Coin is hilarious. In Clyde’s words, "We’re going to start a monetary revolution! And we’re doing it by mining our own coins out of nothing." Who knew stocks could be so silly? While some younger players might get the gist of the joke, only adults have full access to the world of business, stock trading, and crypto.
As cute and comforting as "Cozy Grove" can be, it’s easy to forget some of the key facts about the island you’re on. Notably, everyone on it but you is as dead as a doornail. The spirit bears are literally souls trapped in brand-new ghost bodies, and they’re all working through their deepest issues while trying to come to terms with their new realities. Some of them feel disoriented, while others have regrets and pain they’ve carried on with them from life. Imagining being in their shoes quickly turns into an existential experience if players think about it hard enough.
To top it all off, even though the player character’s not dead, they’re stranded on an island with no connection to life. That’s enough to leave anyone feeling shaken. No matter how many birds and deer gamers fill their islands with, they’re still alone in many ways. Now that’s intense.
The next time you play "Cozy Grove," keep an eye out for these things only adults notice in the game and many more creepy, humorous, and deep moments along the way. There may be more small details you may have missed.