There aren’t enough games about frogs. These slimy yet cute amphibians are largely underserved by the gaming community, and we should be ashamed. Sure, there’s Frog Detective, doing his part to put frogs on the map, and all those years ago we had Superfrog and James Pond. But recently? Hardly any. That’s where Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge comes in. Rather than playing as a frog, here your goal is to create a sanctuary for frogs. And if its demo is anything to go by, it’s absolutely lovely.
If you’re a fan of cosy farming simulators, this is a title you want on your radar. In development by Humble Reeds and being published by Armor Games, players take on the role of a girl helping a friend restore a run-down frog sanctuary. You’ll be building frog-friendly furniture to entice them to your enclosure, before adding lakes and plants to ensure their environment offers them everything they need.
Frogs in Kamaeru come in various species and colours, and eventually you’re going to want to collect them all. Not in a Pokémon type way, I hasten to add. Rather, you’ll simply photograph them to add them to your ‘frogedex’. Feeding them enough grubs of their choice will officially make them “yours”, which allows you to give them a unique name. Cue lots of Kermits and Fred-the-Frogs.
To make money you’ll gather berries and reeds from the plants you’ve grown in order to make jam and other treats in your kitchen. By taking them to the shop you can exchange them for coins, which can then be spent on more goods for your frogs. Beds, sofas, logs and other bits of furniture. Your sanctuary can look just as you want it to.
There’s a gorgeous 2D, watercolour art style here and that alone is enough to make you want to fully absorb yourself into the world of Kamaeru. The frogs themselves, in their various shades of blue, pink or yellow, are adorable. But so are the human characters you’ll come to meet and all the pieces of decor you can place around your space. This is a game that’s been created with love, and it shines through every pixel.
The demo of Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge, which you’ll be able to play for yourself during Steam Next Fest from 5th February, is only short but it gives a good introduction to what you can expect. You’ll be able to name some frogs, photograph others, and even breed some. It’s given me everything I need to know, anyway, to be sure I’ll love Kamaeru when it releases later this year.