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Cozy Caravan Takes Animal Crossing on the Road

Cozy Caravan tells Tom Nook where to shove it and we couldn’t be happier. This cutesy life sim isn’t an official Animal Crossing spin-off, but it’s got the same cutesy vibe, with the added benefit of not having to pay for anything. What’s not to like?

Okay, we’re not super keen on the idiot who keeps clambering up to high places, forcing us to gather enough hay to break his fall. we swear, if we see them once more we’re going to walk away and let them Lara Croft themselves into the pavement. But that minor irritation is eclipsed by the sheer amount of joy 5 Lives Studio has packed into Cozy Caravan, even in its Steam Early Access incarnation.

Related: The best games like Animal Crossing

You can play as one of sixteen anthropomorphic animals, though if you don’t choose axolotl we can never be friends. Then, after undertaking a few tutorial tasks for the locals – picking veg, helping fix a gate, you hop into your caravan with your froggy pal and hit the road. That might sound like a cue for an Oregon Trail-style adventure but, delight not dysentry is the order of the day.

Cozy Caravan, the character select screen with an axolotl character selected.

Because instead of roaming from A to B, you take your caravan (pulled by a giant bee) around several charmingly named locales, like Sweetness Way, Fellowood Acres and so on, selling your wares in each town. The game grumbles if you hit the open road on foot but otherwise you’re in complete control. Want to pull up and harvest some carrots for a local farmer, taking half your bounty as a reward? Go ahead.

How does this work without money? Easy. Your customers pay you in happiness. The more happiness you rack up, the more tokens you get to upgrade your van, the more things you can unlock – cooking benches and so on – to make them happier, and so on. I admit, it sounds like working for exposure, but Cozy Caravan’s residents are pleasingly low on entitlement.

They’re such a delightful bunch (climbing idiot aside) you’ll relish helping them out, whether that’s going on a treasure hunt, tracking down an overdue book or taking pictures of frogs. The stop-motion style animation adds even more charm to what’s shaping up to be a thoroughly engaging and absolutely wholesome open-road adventure.

Cozy Caravan is available on PC right now, via Steam Early Access, priced at £16.75. Its full release is tentatively pencilled in for later 2024, and the current version contains its first region.

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