Review- Cuddly Forest Friends Is a Low-Key Experience 1

Review: Cuddly Forest Friends Is a Low-Key Experience

Aksys is known for certain sorts of titles. It can always be depended upon for otome games, especially on the Switch. It also handles some RPGs, like first-person dungeon-crawlers with turn-based battles. But the third group is the family-friendly fare. Moco Moco Friends or Pretty Princess Party are good examples. Now, it’s continuing that trend with Cuddly Forest Friends, which mashes up something of a pet simulation with a minigame collection. It’s adorable, to be sure, but also doesn’t try too hard to reach people outside of its core audience.

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There’s only the vaguest hint of a story surrounding Cuddly Forest Friends. The animals of the forest happen upon a letter with a seed. They plant it. Their happiness will help make it grow, resulting in a joyful surprise. Which means you meet their needs, fulfill their requests, and play games with them to work toward that goal.

Aksys

That’s where the lite pet sim elements in Cuddly Forest Friends comes into play. Each in-game “day” begins with some requests. The animals will likely ask for some sort of special food, a piece of clothing they could wear, or a decorative item for the forest. You’ll then see if you have enough materials for the projects. After that, you’ll send groups of three animals out to different locations to gather materials. While they are gone, you’ll also watch and be able to button mash the A button to “Cheer” them on in the name of getting additional ingredients. Once that’s done, crafting will begin. Again, you can perform some light button pressing in a more rhythmic fashion to speed up the process and perhaps ensure it will be completed in a single session.

Tasks completed, you’ll then get to play a minigame with the animals. While you can play these with others from the main menu, in-game you are limited to three randomly-selected AI opponents aside from the animal you chose. (The one you picked gets a happiness boost.) You then pick one of four random games, with two offering bonus stamps for a stamp card to unlock more minigames. Once that’s finished, you can spend time with each of the animals to feed them, pet them, talk to them, and perhaps dress them up. If you crafted food earlier, you’ll have a set number of special items aside from the unlimited pellets no animal seems to enjoy. As you increase their happiness, rudimentary profiles unlock additional information for each one going

Review- Cuddly Forest Friends Is a Low-Key Experience 3

But, in a way, that gameplay loop in Cuddly Forest Friends can work against it. There are times when I wanted to play more than one minigame. However, because of the progression, I was limited to one from an array of four random options each “day.” For a younger player, this would probably work well. That kind of structure would make it easy for a guardian to set a certain gameplay limit. As an older, more experienced player, it feels restrictive.

Which is odd, because some of the minigames are legitimately challenging in Cuddly Forest Friends! A few of them involve Mario Party levels of competitiveness, as you might fight someone for resources or get to somewhat sabotage another person’s progress by doing what you are supposed to well. While some are button-mashers, like Wheel-y Fun Race, others require actual thought. The AI in Fluffy Space Race, which involves walking over territory to turn it to your color, can be shockingly good. Fruit Fight is one that can get competitive. Not to mention Pop-Pop Bunny Drop involves carefully watching the timing and hammer swings to take the lead.

Review- Cuddly Forest Friends Is a Low-Key Experience 4

The selling points of Cuddly Forest Friends are that it is cute, it is easy for someone to get into and play, and there are an array of different sorts of minigames. It succeeds on all three fronts. The pacing does force you to follow a certain sort of schedule, which might be a bit slow or restrictive for experienced players. Still, that will probably work well for beginners and younger players. For those looking for a more relaxed title or game for kids, it could feel like coming home to fluffy friends. For the sort of game that it is, it handles the concept and material very well.

Cuddly Forest Friends will come to the Nintendo Switch on February 2, 2023.

7
Cuddly Forest Friends

In order to help the Tree of Happiness in the forest grow and reach its fullest potential, you must collect Happy Feelings. Happy Feelings are obtained by feeding and interacting with the little animals in the forest – and keeping them safe. The Tree has many levels to grow and playing mini-games or making food will increase your Happy Feelings and help the Tree grow. Fulfilling requests from the little guys makes them happy which also gives you HF points. Join the little furry friends and indulge in various daily activities so that the Tree of Happiness reaches maximum “happiness."

While it doesn't try too hard to reach players outside its target audience, Cuddly Forest Friend is a cozy, family-friendly sim with minigames.

Food for Thought
  • There are actually certain animals that will sometimes be better or more effective at specific crafting tasks, but the game doesn’t outright tell you this. You need to experiment until you see the final project “shine” to know you picked the right ones.
  • Before you “cheer” on gathering or crafting efforts, make sure you grab any glittering “stars” on those screens to get extra materials.
  • Degu is the cutest of the animals.

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Author
Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.