Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: Cozy Grove

Darkening my soul

Ian and I were talking the other day about how I was difficult to recommend games to because I was very picky about games. Not only that–it’s difficult even for me to tell what I will and won’t like before playing the game. Well, more what I will like. I am usually very good about knowing what I won’t like, but even in that I can be surprised from time to time. Such as The Surge by Deck13 Interactive. I was expecting it to be trash and to hate it (but I had to try it because it’s a soulslike and it’s in my contract). While the former is mostly true, the latter was not. Maybe it was because I had such low expectations of it, but I quite enjoyed my time with it and finished it–which is more than I can say for the vast majority of soulslikes.

Anyway! Ian joked that it was easy to tell what game I would like–actual Souls games. That made me laugh. He’s not wrong, though, and WHY ISN’T ELDEN RING IN MY HANDS ALREADY??? *Ahem* I keep thinking I’ll like soulslikes, but I…don’t. Or more truthfully, I mostly don’t. There have been a few exceptions, but the ratio is dismal. I’ve tried dozens of soulslikes and have really enjoyed two. The aforementioned The Surge and Salt and Sanctuary by Ska Studios. Having said that, there are qualifiers. I enjoyed The Surge, but it was very much in the vein of ‘this is way better than I thought it’d be so I’m pleasantly surprised’. As for Salt and Sanctuary, it’s a slavish homage to Souls and while I enjoyed playing it, I immediately forgot it once I was done. Ask me to name a single boss in either game and I can’t.

So, yeah. I don’t like soulslikes–I like Souls games. Some people are grumbling that Elden Ring is going to be basically Dark Souls IV. Which, it’s not, but if it were, I’m all over that! I’ve watched the trailer at least a half-dozen times since it dropped and I get stoked every time. I want this to be good sooooooo bad. I’m trying not to get too hyped because I don’t want to be crushingly disappointed, but this game excites me like none other in recent years. I feel for Miyazaki because there is so much pressure on him (well, FromSoft in general, but he IS FromSoft) to produce the perfect game every time. He got almost universal praise for Bloodborne, but there has been some amount of pushback for all his other games*.


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Demo(lition) woman

It’s Steam Next Fest! What is that? I had no clue when Ian told me about it. I thought it was yet another Steam Sale, which, to be fair, it is, but it’s also a conference/festival/etc. Summer seems to be the time for this shit to happen, which is fine. In this case, that means many demos! I’m a casual gamer at heart and with casual games, demos are expected. Casual games are probably easier to make in general so it’s no biggie to have a demo, but it’s really nice to be able to play the first hour or the first chapter before buying. And that’s with a $7 game! With hardcore games being upwards of $70, it makes sense to want to check it out before buying.

In fact, that’s one reason Game Pass (Xbox and PC) is such a good thing. You can play the games for free and then buy them if you really like them. It’s pretty great that most of the stuff coming up on Xbox is going to be on Game Pass from day one. Which includes PC. I’m here for that and my Game Pass library is growing to the point where I have a pile of shame over there as well.

First, I’m still playing Cozy Grove by Spry Fox every day. It’s my comfort game and it’s my way of starting the day–well, continuing the day. I don’t do it when I first get up–that would be my taiji routine after feeding Shadow, but I usually do it within a few hours after that. Nowadays, it takes about an hour because I have so many resources to gather plus helping my spirit friends and, most importantly, Fashion Grove! I had to help one of my friends leave this mortal coil–look. This is difficult to explain, but they’re spirit bears who are caught in limbo. When they need help, they’re translucent as is the area around them. Nothing grows in the translucent areas and the animals are frozen. After I help them, they wave their paws in the air and become colored again–as is the area around them. Animals spring back to life and you can harvest fruits and flowers again.

Anyway, once you fill all five of their hearts, they are ready to move on. That happened with one of the characters and I was caught off-guard. I was trying to back out of it because I wasn’t ready and managed to flub it up so I didn’t get her final story scene. That bothered me and still does, but I can picture it in my mind (also, not going to play the game all over again just to get there because that  would be two more actual live-time months). I actually said I wasn’t ready for her to go. Afterwards, she turned golden and she’s still there, but I can’t talk to her. Or rather, she can’t talk to me. She still sends me on fetch quests now and again, and I can still buy/sell from/to her when she does, but other than that, she’s just there.

Today, I had a task to do for another spirit bear and he said it was one last craft. I adore him and did not want him to go so even though I had the material he needed, I refused to give them to him until I had done absolutely everything else for the day. Then, I gave him what he needed and it wasn’t actually the thing that pushed him to being released. I was relieved that he was still going to be around.


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Hodge, podge, and a little bit of dodge

Still on that Cozy Grove (Spry Fox)/Binding of Isaac: Repentance (Edmund McMillen) tip on the daily. Every morning, I do the loop in Cozy Grove and it goes like this. First, I gather all the resources that are available. Flowers, minerals, nuts, and fruits. Then, I feed all the animals/imps that need feeding. After that, I go to the spirits who need help and do their quests. While I’m doing their quests, I have my divining rod on hand so I can divine as I tromp across my island. I also dig up any resources that are around–onions, sweet taters, taters, etc. Once all that is done, I go to Mr. Kit (and Mr. Kat, the mouse on top of his, a fox, head) to sell my goods. If I overpacked my backpack while gathering resources, I go to him to sell off the flowers. Man, you can make a pretty penny by selling all the flowers.

Once I’m done selling, I turn to buying. First, haircuts. I remember when I first tried a new haircut and realized I couldn’t get my old one back unless it went on sale, I was crushed. Now, I switch it up on the daily and it’s so much fun.

Side Note: It’s interesting looking back on the first few weeks and recalling how stressed I got when I didn’t have enough money to buy something or ingredient to make something–specifically cocoa beans.  There was no way to get except to buy one a day from Mr. Kit and…several at a time from Pandam once a week. And the former was only after you expanded his store–which wasn’t cheap. Everything was scarce and I felt as if I would never be able to make certain items, such as the Bon Bons.

Fast-forward over a month later and now, I rarely have to worry about resources. Money is not an issue at all. Cocoa beans? I have them laying around my tent just gathering dust. I will say, it was still sticker shock when I had to buy a 50,000 old coins item for the mayor today, but I had it on hand. I dropped it like it was no big thing.

The biggest surprise is how much I’ve grown to care about the spirit  bears. They each have a story and most of them are heart-wrenching. I want to help each and every one of them, even though I know that means I’m bringing them closer to their release. They each have a distinct personality and I can find something to love about each of them. There’s Charlotte, the embittered ranger who used to be a Spirit Scout like me. There’s Allison, the pig bear and baker who likes to use, um, unusual ingredients in her creation. There’s my dear, sweet Arjun (ram bear) who has Alzheimer and only wants to be with his beloved wife, Lily. There’s Flamey, my campfire who does so many things for me. There’s Mr. Kit, the tall and silent fox merchant with Mr. Kat, the mouse, sitting on his head. There’s Pandam, the poor red panda wandering salesman who is cursed and miserable.


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WWDTAOL: The thin line between hard and unfair (video games edition, part four)

me standing by campfire leveling up my tent.
I’m an empress leveling up my tent!

Here we go! Part four of WWDTAOL: vidya gaemz! Here’s part three. First, some more talk about Cozy Grove and BoI: Repentance. These are the two games that I play every day and they could not be more different. Cozy Grove is like slipping on a pair of fuzzy slippers, sitting on an overstuffed couch under a fluffy duvet and sipping a cup of raspberry tea. I mentioned before that once I could wrap my head around the fact that the game was very much about taking it in little chunks and not mainlining it as I would most games, my frustration just melted away. There’s something charming about a game that isn’t trying to be massive, grim, and gritty. It knows what it wants to be and is more than happy to do exactly that. Not everything needs to be open world and hundreds of hours. Though, this game can be hundreds of hours, it’s not open world and it’s not meant to be played for hours on end.

In the beginning, I spent a few hours a day just wandering around and fishing endlessly. Now, it’s about an hour, but that’s because I have so many resources to gather. Many many flower/fruit bushes/plants and fruit trees. By the way, I have one niggling complaint about the game, a very small one. The interactive function can be wonky. I have probably thirty plants close to each other, plus decor, plus deer and birds. Clicking on the one that needs to be harvest can be hit or miss. The reason they’re so close to each other is because they ‘like’ being next to x, y, or z, and the radius isn’t that big. Nor is space that plentiful. I can deal with that, but what really frustrates me is that sometimes, it’s impossible to interact with certain items. I can’t even get the prompt. It was really noticeable when it happened to the campfire and it’s doubly frustrating when I had just been able to interact with it a second before.

The only thing I find that makes it better is to exit to the menu and restarting. If that doesn’t work, then completely shutting down the game and starting it up again sometimes help. I don’t understand why it suddenly stops working, but it’s frustrating as fuck. It’s a little irritation in the grand scheme of things and it’s an indie developer so I’m apt to be more forgiving.

Now. Let’s talk about BoI: Repentance. It’s funny because I call the former iteration BoI: Rebirth, but this one Repentance. Shorter, I guess, and I just assume everyone knows what I’m talking about. Anyway, there is so much there.  I think it’s the best iteration of the game since Rebirth, but it’s also…not the worst, but so fucking hard. Is it too hard? I don’t know. I think I’m less likely to want to quantify ‘too hard’ in general and just say that I’m reaching the ceiling for myself. I took Apollyon out for a spin because I hadn’t played them in aaaaaages. I don’t hate them–I just don’t find much interesting about them. They’re the one I always forget even exists. I managed to unlock Tainted Apollyon, however, and that’s an interesting character–more interesting than Apollyon.

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WWDTAOL: The thin line between hard and unfair (video games edition, part three)

I think I need to uninstall Repentance because I can’t stop playing. This is part three of hard/unfair games and you can read part two here. I have now unlocked 9 of the 17 Tainted Characters and here’s something funny. I was trying to remember all the characters when I wasn’t playing it and always came up one short. I looked up the characters’ names and came across Apollyon. Oh, right. They’re a thing. I never remember them even though I’ve done their whole Post-it Note. They are just so boring. It made me wonder if maybe they were my least-favorite character, but, no, that’s still The Keeper. Well, maybe *spoilers will abound* Jacob and Esau (one character, technically, but two moveable bunches of pixels) will end up being my least favorite, but I haven’t taken them out for more than a short spin.

Of the Tainted Characters, I’ve unlocked Tainted Isaac, Tainted Maggie, Tainted Cain, Tainted Judas, Tainted Samson, Tainted Lost, Tainted Forgotten, Tainted Azazel, and Tainted Eden. Having to do more of The Keeper is going to make me very sad. I’ve taken each of the tainted characters out for a spin and they range from fun to confusing as fuck. Tainted Forgotten is tons of fun as you play as the secondary character, (flying blue baby), while tossing a dead The Forgotten around. Tainted Cain is confusing as fuck because every item you get is tossed in the Bag of Crafting and….profit? Supposedly, if you follow the recipes, something is supposed to come out of it, but I don’t know what. Oh, wait. I’ve been doing it wrong? Simply trying to pick up the items breaks them down into consumables. I have to swipe with the Bag of Crafting to put them in the bag. Same with pickups on the floor. Anyway, too much for me, though I will try it out again.

ETA: Ok. You cannot swipe items at all. They have to be broken down, I guess. This is just weird.

ETA II: I am completely on board now that the first time I did it properly, I crafted The Book of the Dead, one of my favorite items. Granted, it got nerfed in Repentance, but it’s still amazing. I thought it would be harder to craft something, but it’s not. I didn’t even look up the recipes–I just threw stuff in my Bag of Crafting. Will have to play with it more, I guess.

In general, though, I’m not sure I want to learn seventeen new characters and do all the achievements again.


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WWDTAOL: The thin line between hard and unfair (video game edition, part one)

In today’s edition of WWDTAOL, I want to focus on hard video games. Why? Because, well, look at the games I play. FromSoft games, to be specific. But also NL hours into Binding of Isaac in all of its iterations. That’s why it’s endlessly amusing to me that I also like games such as Cozy Grove (Spry Fox) because it’s the exact opposite of demanding and curse-inducing. I’m really digging Cozy Grove now that I’ve completely accepted it for what it is–a bite-sized chunk game in which putting an hour into a day is the way to play. I love doing my little chores  and making the rounds, talking to my friends and trying on the new clothes. I have a real problem with hoarding all the items and it’s only been recently that I’ve been able to make myself sell clothing that I know I will never wear. I can buy new slots, but it’s 30,000 old coins for ten spaces. That’s chump change these days, but I’m still cheap.

Anyway! Tough games. Let’s talk Binding of Isaac by Edmund McMillen. Normally, I would call the game Binding of Isaac: Rebirth because that’s the best edition of the game in my opinion. I’ve played them since Wrath of the Lamb–well, I actually played the first version, but hated it–and, man, has the game changed so much. I’ve 1001%ed the game and I played it every day as my relaxer. If I played as Zaz or Eden, I could reliable win most games. With Isaac, Samson, Judas, or Laz, as long as I got decent damage upgrades, I win more often than I lost. I knew the items like I knew the back of my hand and I could play on automatic. Then, at some point, I got burned out on the game and uninstalled it. I’ve done that before and then gone back to it, but this time, it stuck. It helped that while I really dug Rebirth, I was less than enamored of Afterbirth and Afterbirth+. I did play the mod, Antibirth, for a bit, but I didn’t get too into it.

Then there was the announcement of Repentance. I think it was before the pandemic. I noted it and moved on. In the last few months, it was announced as coming out for realsies. From what I knew about it, it was Edmund taking Antibirth and incorporating it into the game. By the time the official announcement happened, I was over the game. So over it. I messaged Ian and told him that I was NOT going to get the game, nuh uh, no way. I was so over it and I didn’t like the way it sucked me in for way too much time. He gently reminded me that I didn’t have to get the expansion, which was true. I wasn’t going to do it and the day of the release came and went without me buying it. Then, I started watching Northernlion play Repentance because, I don’t know why. I just couldn’t let go of the game. Watching NL play it made me want to try it.

Long story somewhat shorter: I bought it. I was just going to try it out–yeah, right. Who am I kidding? I know how I am with this game. That’s one of the reasons I quit playing it. Anyway, It’s fucking hard. It’s brutally hard. Now, I probably should have started out with Isaac just to ease myself into it. However, I wanted to unlock the new characters as quickly as possible. There were two new characters in the game and I know one of them was in Antibirth. Let me just say that spoilers will abound. That’s just the way it is. Anyway, Bethany was the one with the explicit requirements–beat the game with Lazarus without losing a life (he comes with an extra).


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My body is not a temple

clyde wallace, the wolf-bear, introduces himself.
I’m a wolf! I’m a bear! I’m Clyde Wallace and I’m both.

In the weekend post at AAM, someone asked what you would wish for if you had three wishes. The twist was that the first wish had to be for yourself, the second had to be for everyone, and the third could be whatever. I thought it was an interesting question, so I thought about it a bit. The second one I waver between everyone not having to worry about the basic needs being met (housing, healthcare, etc.) and eradicating all isms. The reason I don’t make those the second and third wishes is because I want to make a good welfare to all animals wish as well. Oh, of course, there can be no wishing for more wishes.

The first was the most interesting because there were a ton of things I could have said–be a best-selling author, know all the taiji weapons forms, etc. Or be the best at FromSoft games in all the world. But the first thought I had and the one that stuck to me was good health, both mental and physical. That seems especially relevant now and I’m going with that one. My father ends every conversation with a pompous monologue about how health is the most important thing and as annoying as it is, he’s right. So much of my life has been shit because of my varying health issues. I would get rid of them in a heartbeat if it were possible.

Back to Cozy Grove by Spry Fox. The biggest tip I could give to a newcomer would be to take the game as it is. When I first started playing, I would get impatient because there was so much I couldn’t do at the moment. I didn’t like that the game would introduce things such as the brokenhearted imps without me being able to do anything about it (no cocoa beans). It stressed me out until I realized that there was no negative consequence to not being able to do something at the moment. I mean, I didn’t like it, but I was able to let it go.

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A little bit of this, a whole lotta that

Feeling much better, but still exhausted. Arm a bit swollen and sore, but not hot. Was a bit burny earlier this morn (had a wee relapse last night), but that’s gone now. I am ready for a nap, however, and I’ve only been awake for a few hours. Last evening, I had an irresistible urge to sleep and ‘napped’ for four or so hours when I normally would be awake. Still pared down my taiji weapons routine this morning. Still not feeling up to anything but the basics.

Anyhoo! Still playing the hell out of Cozy Grove by Spry Fox. I’ll get to that in a second. I tried out the Resident Evil Village demo, which surprised the fuck out of me because I normally DGAF about Resi games. I know it’s heresy to say, but I don’t find them scary and having come to gaming late, the tank controls are just too damn frustrating. I did try Resi 4 and gave up after an hour or so. It just wasn’t my jam. However. The aesthetics of Resi VIII are right up my alley. Moody, goth, hot vampire ladies? Yes, please. By the way, I find it amusing that Lady D has taken the internet by storm. Yeah, she’s hot and all that, but the over-the-top thirst is, well, outre. I do like that she’s a middle-aged woman who’s not stereotypically hot, but I don’t get the rampant lust over her and her daughters.

I only played ten minutes or so of the demo and five of those minutes were me interacting with the Duke (shopkeeper). Why? Because while I can watch other people play if they’re not whipping the camera around too quickly, the first-person bobbing got to me immediately. I hate it! I really wish I didn’t have these issues with first-person perspective, but there you go. I do like that both Andy (Oxbox) and Aoife (Eurogamer) uploaded reviews and they were diametrically opposing. Andy loved it and the story, thought it was a spiritual successor to Resi 4, and super spooky. Aoife thought the lore was rushed, not scary, and a disappointment to Resi fans who wanted more. Oh, and Andy liked Ethan (main protag) more this game whereas Aoife still found him bland and boring. They both are huge Resi fans. I would love to see them have at it with their opinions.


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Still tootling around in Cozy Grove

medium-length hair and rectangle frames is so me.
Always be thinking about fishing.

I’m still stuck in and on the game, Cozy Grove, by Spry Fox. It’s something like Day 16 and things have really opened up. I finally bit the bullet and scraped up the 400,000 coins needed to upgrade Mr. Kit’s shop for a second time and have upgraded my tent (storage space) twice as well. Before I get into that, however, let me remind you that I ended the last post with a question of sorts. I had noted that I had just opened access to haircuts and didn’t know quite how it worked. I have a closet of clothes and I can switch them out whenever I want by visiting Flamey, my bonfire. Er, campfire. Would I be able to store my hair and change it at will like wigs? That’s what I thought it might be, but I also had the sinking suspicion that I might just lose my hair completely. I didn’t want that to happen because I really liked my black twisty braids, but I felt like I should try the new content. There was a cute ‘goth’ hairstyle of curls loosely tied at the nape of the neck. It seemed more Victorian or some such to me, but whatever. It was white hair and I bought it.

Me being me, the first thing I tried to do was figure out how I could change it back. I checked my closet. Nope. Storage? Nope. Mr. Kit–maybe I had to buy it back? Nope. I even tried buying the same hairstyle again, thinking it would give me my old hairstyle back. Nope. By the way, I don’t get that–why can I infinitely buy the same hairstyle? I hopped onto the Discord to ask if there was a way to get my old hairstyle back. There wasn’t. I had to hope that it would be offered on sale at the store.

This is how compulsive my brain gets sometimes. When I was told that I couldn’t get my hair back, I actually thought about restarting the game because it bothered me so much. I didn’t do it, but I did think about it off and off for the rest of the day. Then at some point it didn’t bother me any longer, but I did check out the hairstyles first things first the next day. My original haircut wasn’t there, but  there was a black hair that was long and wavy. I bought it and felt much better. The picture above is medium straight black, which is close to my real hair. Not quite as long, but it’ll do for now. I still miss the black twisty braids, but I can live with this for now.

I have to say that looking at hair/clothes every day is one of my favorite things to do in the game. It’s funny because I have no interest in that kind of thing in real life, but I’m all about it in games. Back when I played Saints Row IV by Deep Silver, I changed up my looks on the regs. I loved adding tats and making my character look as much like me as possible. As long as she was wearing sunglasses, she looked remarkably like me.

Me all busty and tatted and curvy. And a big gun.
She’s a brick…HOUSE. (She’s mighty mighty!)

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Getting cozy with Cozy Grove

me in a peaky blinders black hat, purple mask, chilling with the mayor
Looking peak Peaky Blinders while socially distancing.

Since I finished the DS II (SotFS) plat, I’ve been mainlining a game that, well, isn’t meant to be mainlined. I mentioned it in my last post (the one about the plat) and it’s called Cozy Grove by Spry Fox. It’s Animal Crossing with a sprinkling of Spiritfarer and it’s been the perfect antidote to the plat. Speaking of which, Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games had an update with some new ‘gameplay’. I put that in quotes because it was not gameplay, exactly. It was Stella’s (main character) sister, Lily, showing up to flesh out Stella’s character and backstory.

*SPOILER FOR MAJOR SPIRITFARER PLOT POINT*

Stella is a nurse who takes care of end-of-life patients and then gets cancer herself. The whole game is an allegory for what’s happening in her life. None of this comes through in the game and while there are hints now and again, I didn’t know about this until a newsletter from Thunder Lotus after I finished the game. I did know that Stella was dying because she’s the last person you take to the Everdoor, but I didn’t know the details about her death.

Anyway, the update is Lily’s spirit talking to you about family history and spells out the above paragraph in photos and memories. You can tell it’s Lily and their mother visiting Stella while Stella is in the hospital dying and Mom is asleep. Lily wants to take a walk down memory lane and in order to do so, you have to go to the different shrines across the world. The thing is, you can only do it at night and I just missed getting to the first shrine on the first night. I haven’t played this game in several months and had forgotten the mechanics to a certain extent. So I had to waste a whole day waiting for nighttime in order to access the new content.

After a few memories at this shrine, I had to go to another shrine to get more memories. I get why they did that, but I internally rolled my eyes as I set off. Then another shrine. Then, the fourth shrine. The one that almost made me quit the game the first time around because of how difficult it is to access–and this is at the very end of the game. There’s a bunch of platforming that is very fiddly and requires a combo of different moves. I had to look it up because I could not remember how to do it. Once I was reminded of the Dash, I was able to get to the shrine with fairly little effort. Still. Was it worth it?

Look. This was one of my two co-GOTY last year. I platted the game and cried several times while playing it. Gwen will stay with me forever and I loved almost everything about this game. This update, however, fell flat with me. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve moved on from the game, but I didn’t really get much from this update. There was nothing bad about it, mind you (except having to go to several different shrines), but it just didn’t add much to the game experience for me. In addition, Lily is…I hate to say it…a bit of a brat. I get that the devs were trying to show a sister/sister relationship that was both loving as well as somewhat contentious, but it just felt off to me. I think it’s because we have no history with Lily so when she comes in and puts Stella down, it feels bullying. Especially as Stella can’t respond. I think it’s meant to show the enormous pain Lily is feeling, but, again, I don’t know her from Rose. I am very protective of Stella and it irritated me to hear Lily put her down.

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