Review: Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge Croaks
Image via Armor Games Studios

Review: Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge Croaks

I’m really disappointed in Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge. I expected a Neko Atsume or Usagi Shiima sort of game with a little more meat to it. While there are minigames and more objectives, the lack of interesting frogs and furniture to collect and repetition tied to completing goals makes it feel far inferior.

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A lot of simulation games star protagonists escaping the drudgery of corporate life to a slower-paced, soothing, rural paradise. This is true of Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge too, with players returning to work with a childhood friend named Axel on a wetland restoration project and frog sanctuary. This involves earning money via creating products from the wetlands you revive, investing those funds into furniture for frogs and more wetland ponds and plants, and breeding frogs to prove the project is worthwhile and attract more people to help in different ways.

The concept is sound! The execution is not. Frogs come and go quickly, but it isn’t so much that specific frogs seem to like particular pieces. Rather, all you need is to have something that a frog would enjoy, and then they’ll set up shop there. What makes this worse is that it isn’t like Neko Atsume or Usagi Shiima, where you know unique cats or rabbits with specific appearances and requirements could appear. You’re waiting on green and silver frog with a yin yang Doblex design. Or a yellow and pink frog with a leopard print pattern. Or a silver and blue Victulus one with legs that are a different color than its body. Even less exciting is when you get, say, a Victulus kiwi kiwi style frog, because then it is green on green. It looks identical to a Doblex kiwi kiwi variant, by the way. 

I get that part of this was to incentivize the breeding element of Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge, but that’s handled really poorly too! Instead of going with randomized genetics from two frogs you tamed by feeding them the exact bugs they wanted in the order they asked, you play Tic-Tac-Toe against an NPC. In my experience, it meant I was lucky if I got one guaranteed trait I wanted through to the final frog. So if you’re hoping for a Doblex silver pink and not a Doblex pink pink or pink silver, good luck! 

Breeding and furnishing, as well as feeding frogs to tame them, is tied to the wetlands restoration element of the game. Unfortunate, this ends up being tedious and involves Cookie Clicker style elements. After you invest in acquiring certain types of ponds and plants, you place them. You then need to click everyone once in a while on spots to catch bugs to feed frogs. Clicking another button gathers resources you’ll use to make things like food and paper goods to sell for cash, which you can then invest in more wetlands parts, frog furniture, and breeding.

The minigames tied to product production also turns into quite a chore. All of the food products? Those use the same minigame that involves turning on a stove, aligning mirrors just so to direct light down, and pressing A when the moving indicator is in the center. Paper goods? Again, arrange, press the buttons, and it never changes for any product. At least the quality of life feature here means you can make more than one of an item when playing the minigame once, so you aren’t repeating the same process endlessly.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is a letdown, as it doesn’t feel compelling or rewarding to collect frogs, acquire money, or build up the frog sanctuary. I got more out of games like Usagi Shiima, even though it featured no quests and less “gameplay” to it. The thing is, it’s easy to see how it could have been better. More unique frogs, eliminating the tedious minigames, and making specific pieces of furniture feel more important could have all fixed it. As is, it feels like a boring job instead of a relaxing game about cute frogs.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge will come to the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X, and PC on June 8, 2024.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge

Foster a sanctuary for frogs and restore the biodiversity of the wetlands in Kamaeru, a cozy farming sim where you raise frogs by playing mini-games and decorating your habitat. Hop right to it! Switch version reviewed. Review copy provided by company for testing purposes.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is a letdown, as it doesn’t feel compelling or rewarding to collect frogs, acquire money, or build up the frog sanctuary.

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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.