Cozy Caravan Early-Access Preview

Cozy Caravan Early-Access Preview

Currently in Early Access, Cozy Caravan is a wholesome game about driving a caravan around towns and doing good deeds for the residents. Kindness is an integral part of Cozy Caravan and helps bring about the pleasant feeling that players search for in games such as these. I would probably explain it as part shop keeping game, part driving game, part crafting game and part series of minigames. Funnily enough, trying to define what makes the game enjoyable is as difficult as trying to define the “cozy” genre itself. 

Players will spend a lot of time travelling in their caravan between the towns of the region of Harvestvale. As the citizens of Harvestvale are a variety of mammals, the caravan isn’t pulled by a horse but by a giant bumblebee named Rigby. Rigby is adorable and wags his thorax when you pat him. Technically, the player’s best friend Bubba the frog is driving, but the player controls the caravan. Driving itself is simple enough and it is only for transport purposes. There is a lot of driving because there are three different towns that have spaces for the player to set up market. As well as that, different locations will have different supplies and quests so it’s smart to keep moving. Especially if you want to maximise the variety of supplies and take advantage of doing good deeds. 

I organise the good deeds into a variety of three flavours. Quests, roving minigames and farming. Quests are like what you’d find in most games where residents ask your character to do something for them. This can be finding frogs, returning a book, or transporting a resident to their destination. Once these quests are done, they cannot be replayed. They may have several parts to them though which can lead the player all over the map. Speaking of all over the map, let’s discuss roaming minigames. These are micro minigames that can be found in many locations and require the player to complete them for a minor number of hearts. These actions have the added benefit of passing time, which stops when the character arrives in town. The quest givers of these activities can be found at any location on the map and will move to a new location the next day. The last type are the farming minigames. These are activities that stick to their designated location and can be repeated daily with diminishing returns. If that’s making you think, “hey wait a minute, that seems unfair”, hang on, farming actions are different to the other two. Unlike the questing and roving minigames, farming gives the player items instead of hearts. An example is that if a player picks tomatoes for Barry on Monday and receives four tomatoes as a reward, the next day there will be less tomatoes to pick, and Barry will only give the player two or three this time. This is further encouraging the player to never stay in one spot.  

That leads to the final main mechanic of the game, the market. On the weekends, players can open the market to sell items they have gathered or crafted for large amounts of hearts. I know I keep mentioning hearts and you’re probably wondering what that is all about. The player and their friend Bubba are part of a guild that keeps track of the good deeds they do because if they reach a certain threshold, they will acquire a token. Tokens are important because they allow the player to upgrade their caravan in a variety of ways. Upgrades include the wardrobe which allows player to change their outfits, a cooking table and ovens to craft delicious food to sell as well as different caravan paint jobs and wheels. Markets are the best way to work towards getting tokens and as mentioned before, crafted items are worth more hearts than plain produce. Players will need to know their market too as customers in each of the three market locations will prefer different things. Luckily, there’s a fortune teller who can predict what will be popular, kind of (more on that later). With each upgrade to the caravan, the degree of items you can produce is increased meaning the possible hearts profits go up too. If this sounds like your kind of jam, that’s great but keep in mind Cozy Caravan is in very early access having only released on the 16th of May.  

The game itself is fun to play, but it is still quite bare-bone when it comes to content. There is a lot of repetition in the mini-games and there are only a few quests. 5 Lives, the developers, are going around with hammers as they try to squash all the bugs that have reared their ugly head since its release. So far, I’ve only encountered one major game breaking bug and that ended up being resolved within a day. There are a few other minor bugs I’ve found including the fortune teller being useless in my game, but it wasn’t a major issue as I still sold plenty of items. One thing that was a bit of a problem for me was when I first started to create my character, I was given a choice between 16 different animal characters. I had my preferences, but I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to be. After I narrowed it down to the Axolotl, Fox and Cat, I ended up enlisting the help of my mates on discord. After streaming my screen and discovering that each animal had three to five different colourings on top of the initial choice, I finally settled on the strawberry cow. It seems that there are plans to add more animal characters in the future if their discord is anything to go by. Unfortunately, aside from the cooking, the rest of the crafting content hasn’t been added yet, but it looks like 5 Lives plans to add sewing and woodworking in the future. There are no plans to add multiplayer, which I believe is the correct course of action for this type of game. Multiplayer wouldn’t really add anything and would probably detract from the game, not to mention the extra work it would put on the developers. 

Cozy Caravan is a lovely experience, albeit threadbare, but as an early access game it’s to be expected. Despite its current issues, it’s shaping up to be a thoroughly enjoyable game with every player enjoying different aspectsIt’s the small touches like Rigby’s tail wiggle, the prominence of kindness and the ability to wave at any of the residents that truly allows it to live up to its title of Cozy Caravan. 

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