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Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge Review – A quaint slow-paced adventure

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge Review – A quaint slow-paced adventure

Hop along into a world of adorable amphibians

Having recently repurposed an old Belfast sink as a small pond for our back garden, the chance to rescue frogs, although fictional, was too tempting to ignore.

Yet, when I turned up for my first day at Kamaeru: A Frog Rescue, I found myself underwhelmed; everything felt too stripped back and basic. There were adorable frogs to coo at, and beautiful artwork to admire, but it didn’t initially spark joy within me.

But then, the game picked up pace. Not so much that it loses its relaxed atmosphere, but just enough so you’re not simply staring at the screen waiting for a frog to hop along. Unlike other cosy games, both past and present, Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge has a quick, rather abrupt start. The story, although there, is lacking when compared with other tales such as Stardew Valley.

Begin your journey with Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge today

Despite being kept to a minimum, though, once you push past the tutorial, you discover a brief but satisfying story whose emphasis is on actions rather than digesting lore. There are characters to meet and chat with, but their presence is a means to an end. It’s certainly one that adds depth, but that depth isn’t nearly as substantial as I’d have liked.

This all makes it sound like I’m disappointed with this Nintendo Switch title, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s been a slow burn for me, now I’ve unlocked different areas, and built up my biodiversity, I find myself losing track of time as I snapjust one more photo of a cute frog. So far, my favourite is when they lounge around on a sofa all stretched out like a sun worshipping feline.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge sneaks up on you; in that you don’t think it’ll start to consume your waking thoughts... But then you’re there, making a drink of tea, wondering what frogs you’ll try to breed next. You know, the usual thoughts that plague one’s mind while pottering about the house.

As is commonplace with cosy experiences, there’s a certain level of grind involved. That said, there’s a greater emphasis placed on taking your time while building this frog haven. So much so that the game reminds you to slow down when the opportunity to advance the story appears. The choice is always yours; it’s an element more cosy titles should introduce.

The fact that the developers address the way progress is achieved in such games, and thus offer a gentle reminder to quiet down the hustle culture instilled into us, is a small but welcome feature. Even if you decide to power through every objective with zeal, you’ll at least know that the frogs are more than happy to relax in their ponds while you improve the wetlands for them.

Armor Games Studios

Yet, while the world in which I find myself meticulously arranging furniture is attractive, it’s a short-lived attraction. The issue is a lack of depth, as previously mentioned; when you’re given only surface level exploration, no amount of endearing artwork will save a game from feeling rudimentary. I wanted Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge to wow me. However, I was left with frustration born from all the untapped potential this game has. It’s under baked; taken out of the oven too early for it to ever rise to heights such a pretty farming sim should be able to.

But lest we end on a bum note, for there’s a redeeming feature that every frog loving farmer will squeal with delight over: being able to pet the frogs. It’s sad that this is one of the title’s crowning achievements, yet it’s also a feature that, if removed, would dramatically reduce our enjoyment.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge wasn’t what I’d hoped for, nor did it scratch that cosy games itch I’ve felt since finishing Pine Hearts. Still, I find it hard to deny its charm however superficial it may be. Maybe we’ve become too conditioned in expecting more from farming sims, and thus the issue rests with us – with me – rather than the game itself. Whatever the reason, the adorable frogs of Kamaeru aren’t enough to have me wading back into the wetlands I’ve so lovingly tended to. Nevertheless, those hoppy little cuties have left an impression all the same.

Pros: Easy and accessible gameplay, beautiful artwork, and frogs galore!

Cons: Lacks substance, while relying too heavily on its adorable aesthetics to win players over

7/10: Very Good

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is available now on Nintendo Switch (version tested), Steam, and Xbox. Review code was provided by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Armor Games Studios

Topics: Nintendo Switch, Indie Games, Xbox, PC, Steam, Reviews