Cozy Caravan Review - by Daxel

You’re the proud new purveyor of fresh creations on the local market scene with your fixed up Caravan in 5 Lives Studios’ new Early Access release, Cozy Caravan. This is a single player “cozy” casual indie game in which you explore, gather, complete little fetch quests, and other easy-going activities in an attempt to raise your “Happiness” level and upgrade your caravan and cooking abilities while interacting with the local fauna (your townmates!) The game is currently in Early Access with a roadmap to add more throughout the year and plenty of communication through their social channels. I got to spend a few hours with the lovely townsfolk of this world, so here are my thoughts as the game currently stands!

Characters Galore!

You start off by creating your character and, thankfully, there are a plethora of options to choose from. You will have more of an issue with making a final decision rather than not having enough to decide between. Otters, foxes, goats, cats, bears…and it’s a list that will expand, as the roadmap indicates additional character choices are on the way. I didn’t see a way to switch my outfit or character after having already started the game, but maybe I missed it or it’s on the way. If not, I hope the ability is added, because I’d love to be able to change my critter’s visage whenever I wanted, especially with the amount of choices. You can also change the color, outfit, voice type, and name of the character, also with their own wealth of choices.

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

Once you’ve stepped out of your home and into the world, you go around completing tasks like gathering crops, helping out with fellow town animals’ small distresses, and other quaint activities. Some involve navigating the map between different little locales and spotting objects like frogs or dig spots. They were stress-free and some of the spots were actually pretty smartly hidden and involved taking in all of your surroundings. The world was alive with little scenes and other animals, and watching it while driving your bee-drawn caravan between spaces that you could disembark and run around in made it feel so lovingly crafted. The activities you can partake in vary beyond that, and I found myself continuing to find things to do as the world moved between days. Playing hopscotch, delivering milk varieties to customers at a dairy bar, among other things. I’m excited about the variety of tasks and the developers’ ability to make sure of each environment in different ways throughout the week.

Market Madness

The gameplay revolves around completing these quests and gathering activities throughout the week to eventually run a “market” from your caravan on Saturday and Sunday. This market’s success rewards you with a score that boosts your heart level, which in turn allows you to buy upgrades and customizations for your caravan. Doing worse or better doesn’t have any detriments or positives that are incredibly tangible (there’s no currency or failure system) so even this part is inherently “cozy” and casual. However, in my experience, the market part itself was a bit chaotic at first. Animals come and go with little thought bubbles above their heads that indicate what they’re craving…but not ALL of the animals, and they also don’t require their chosen desired food, either. I mistakenly thought they’d all say what they wanted and I just had to deliver it. This wasn’t the case, and I had to actively figure out the process without much guidance. After I understood the assignment, as it were, it became much less of a Chinese fire drill. With another week of gathering and cooking recipes, the experience would be much more chill, so this was probably just a result of my inexperience. Would have been nice to have a little more knowledge before starting it, but I got my bearings quickly.

A Bit of Tedium

In addition to the market, you can raise your heart level by waving at every single other creature placed all over the world, every day. I do mean every one, too. This is probably the fastest way to earn heart credits at the beginning, and became a -bit- tedious after a while. With further time spent in the game, I’m hoping this becomes an afterthought of experience gain, and more of a natural thing I’d enjoy doing as I venture around doing tasks, and not a main way of progression. Maybe I’m just too much of a sucker for completionism and wanted to make sure I didn’t miss any iota of a chance to gain points. Additionally, the townsfolk you can talk to usually have a short line of dialogue that’s specific to them, and then a notice of whatever main task you’ve taken up last. This made talking to the other characters that weren’t main ones more of a casual activity than one I found particularly rewarding on its surface. Because of this, I found myself just waving at a group of 10 people surrounding me at hangout spots rather than taking the time to talk to them all. Is that a bad thing? Maybe not, for a cozy game. I probably wouldn’t want to feel like I was missing out on a ton of content just because the developer felt they had to have something for every single being in the game to say.

Here and There

There were other little touches and elements that were added to the game, including the ability to take pictures with a floating camera mechanic, and also a recipe book and crafting that included its own minigames for cooking. These made for a constant easy-going gamification of even the most usually mundane activities. It kept the activity level modestly engaging while getting to complete your tasks for the day, and made it more than just a run-of-the-mill “daily tasks” experience.  The music and sound was poppy and perfect for this type of game, and it had a bit of a “storybook” feel to it. The delayed framerate of the characters made this even more enhanced, and just really amplified the cuteness factor. The dialogue was well-written and every element had a soft, comfortable feel around it. It was fun to read, listen, and play.

Caravan 01

Final Thoughts

Overall, Cozy Caravan was a treat. It was fun to read, listen, and play, and I plan to revisit it throughout their development. The team seems to really enjoy producing content, and everything felt like it was crafted with care. As far as criticism goes, I do think some guidance on the market part of things could be valuable. There is also no quest log or way to keep up with what all you’ve signed up to do (unless the NPCs directly come with you or pull you into an activity screen you’re locked into completing.) I could see myself running into a bit of a gameplay loop issue once I finish the set activities, when gathering and producing throughout the weekdays could become tedious. I haven’t reached that point yet, and so I can’t tell if that will be the case. 

GF Review Final Scores:

CozyCaravan ScoresGF

Uncivil Gamers played Cozy Caravan for their Uncivil Weekly Release Party! Check out the video!

Daxel
About Author:
Hey I’m Joshua Hyles! Owner and Editor of Gaming Furever. Married. He. Pan. Lover of cruises, travel, food, drinks, my wife and my family.
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