Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator Review – Not So Cozy

Featured image of the Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator review, depicting the entire cast of characters from the game along with a cat in front of the garden scenery.
REVIEWED ONXbox Series XALSO ONPS4, PS5, SwitchRELEASEFebruary 22, 2024
PUBLISHERNaconDEVELOPERstillalive studios


Is it worth giving it a try?

With a heavy heart, I must say, it depends. The best scenario for purchasing Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator would be to wait for a good promotional price. Unfortunately, it’s not hard to find a better cozy candidate for an evening in front of the monitor screen, with coffee or a warm cup of tea, and your feet up on the chair. The game in question is more of a creator, allowing you to craft a beautiful, colorful garden to showcase online.

Visually appealing, but don’t judge a book by its cover

In terms of visuals, Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator clearly demonstrates its understanding of what a cozy game should look like. It could honestly serve as a textbook example of the genre. The color palette is incredibly charming and pleasant to behold. The entire art style remains consistent throughout, including the characters in the game. The flowers manage to stand out in contrast, which is fitting since Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator revolves around managing one’s own garden.

First look at Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator

However, even though it sets the textbook example for a cozy game visually, we know well that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. A game that only looks good is not enough. And here lies the biggest issue: Graphically? Superb. Mechanically? Disappointing. Despite the developer’s emphasis on the procedural plant growth simulation, its significance diminishes when you spend more than a few hours playing Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator.

At first glance, I swear, Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator seemed really promising. Unfortunately, with almost every interaction, the charm fades away. Both among things that could still be overlooked and those crucial to gameplay, quickly making it tedious. When I imagine tending to flowers, I primarily envision observing their maturing beauty. To some extent, we get that, but only to some extent, because a flower matures within 24 hours, only to fulfill classic fetch quests the next day in story mode. The imposed pace didn’t suit me at all; it was supposed to be cozy! But apart from tending to flowers, this game mainly has nothing else to offer, hence the accelerated process.

There’s a lot of room for improvement

In my opinion, there is so much room for improvement that it would require a series of changes, potentially even at fundamental levels, which I’m not sure anyone can afford. However, there are also minor details that could be improved without much trouble, such as the interface. Switching between tabs in the seed inventory or flipping through pages to find information about a particular flower is slow and off-putting. Additionally, the animations while working in the garden lack life.

A screenshot from the game Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator showing a view of the garden, with Red Tulip seeds held in hand. In the middle of the garden with buildings stands a large, pink tree.
It’s time to get down to work + Image: stillalive studios / Nacon via Game Compendium

I’m not fond of narrative decisions either. Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator doesn’t fulfill my dream of having my own garden because the garden in the game isn’t entirely ours; we merely take care of it, commuting to it by public transport. Additionally, the scenery itself, apart from the garden, is more suburban, which somehow doesn’t evoke that cozy feeling in me.

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And despite the absence of penalties for extending one’s stay in the garden at night (unless halting the flower growth process is punishment enough), I sense that time should pass more slowly. It might just be my perception, but in Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator, I feel pressured to fulfill my duties quickly, only to catch the bus and speed through another day to make progress in the game.

Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator could have been a relaxing game, but unfortunately, it isn’t

Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator has a few elements that I particularly enjoyed and haven’t mentioned yet. One of them is the ability to modify the garden, allowing it to differ from those of other players despite certain limitations. This feature can be highlighted through the photo mode, which, with its beautiful graphics, hits the mark perfectly. Objects we can place in the garden include stone frog figures or benches. While we’re unable to construct additional buildings, we can still slightly alter their appearance. Additionally, the procedural plant growth, which ensures each plant grows differently and adapts to the environment, is quite interesting. It’s a really solid foundation that just could have been utilized better.

A stone frog statue against the backdrop of a flowing river late in the evening in the game Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator.
🐸 + Image: stillalive studios / Nacon via Game Compendium

However, my lack of joy derived from Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t enjoy it. I believe this title is most suitable for individuals who aim to quickly create a photogenic, colorful garden and derive the most satisfaction from its visual appeal. Ultimately, Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator lacks depth.

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Posted by
Damian Cholewa

The sole author of Game Compendium. Enjoys gaming and writing about it.

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