Cozy Caravan (PC) – Early Access Review

5 Lives Studios' Cozy Caravan is brimming with wholesome potential.
cozy caravan early access game review pc

I remember the first time I saw a Sylvanian Families window display, with its tiny little houses and idyllic parks, and wanting desperately to be there. To be a tiny little rabbit playing on a treehouse, or jumping on a miniature bed, living in a world of sunshine and friendship. Newly-released Aussie-made game Cozy Caravan goes a long way towards capturing that pure joy, with its tiny, doll-like world of creatures, caravans, and cosy markets.

This warm, dappled-light game is all about embodying a creature with big ambitions to run a market filled with goods. You can be a little cat, or an axolotl, or a fox, or a raccoon (my choice), and then set off to make friends, find ingredients, create dishes, and grow your local community. It’s a lovely and simple concept, and 5 Lives Studios has done well to build out Cozy Caravan‘s world in its early access period.

By nature, there is an “endpoint” in this version of Cozy Caravan, as new worlds and activities are in the process of being built, with feedback from players reshaping the game in future. But already, you can see the neat, wholesome ideas backing this game, and how they’ll influence its direction.

For now, there is one major region to explore in your journey, with mini-locales littered throughout. In each, you’ll meet new friends, help out with quests, and learn more about life as a travelling nomad. The journey is buoyed along by a charming art style and low-frame-rate animation that makes each character look like a tiny action figure trundling along with the help of an unseen hand.

cozy caravan early access review
Screenshot: GamesHub

I recalled the Sylvanian Families brand while playing the game for that reason – playing Cozy Caravan is a lot like playing with mini action figures, as you explore a farmstead world where “troubles” are late library books, escaped (harmless) bees, and tiny frog children lost in shimmering glades.

Beyond exploration of this world, there’s plenty that keeps Cozy Caravan feeling novel over its first few hours. While you can spend your days wandering around, and helping out folks for the buzz of gathering friendship points, the core action is hooked on setting up for “market days” on the weekends. As a wandering Guild member, your purpose is to gather goods from nearby farms (by picking and packing their crops) and then either sell these goods wholesale, or turn them into more “complex” goods by cooking them.

Read: Cozy Caravan: How to easily upgrade your caravan

In the five days preceding the market, you’ll take part in a variety of activities and mini-games, bulk up your store of goods, and spend Guild Tokens to improve your caravan. You’ll also gather quests by speaking to local folks, and letting them guide you on your path. Then, you’ll head to market with stocks full, and haul in Friendship Points as you sell to your local community.

The loop is lovely and rewarding, and a plethora of activities means you can spice up how you gather Friendship Points and Guild Tokens in your quest through Cozy Caravan‘s world.

There are layers of repetition to these activities that start to grate around the ten hour mark (depending on your patience), but given this title remains in early access, we can assume these issues will be ironed out over time.

cozy caravan cooking
Screenshot: GamesHub

As of this early release, it’s this repetition that feels most in need of tweaks. There’s a solid market sim here, with excellent touches of cosiness, but it’s certainly still an early access game. The further you travel into the adventure, the more you want from it. More activities, more world to explore, more characters to befriend, more unique questlines.

It remains incredibly charming in launch form, and you’ll be kept engaged with a strong main questline that allows you to venture from farm to farm, seeking new upgrades and unlocks for new areas. You will hit the wall eventually, though. And at that point, you’ll become keenly aware that Cozy Caravan has a medium-to-long road ahead.

Per 5 Lives Studios, Cozy Caravan will be in early access until at least the end of 2024, with feedback from the game’s community helping to shape new features. As of writing, the game only contains “the first region of the world” and the studio plans to add more content in early access, and beyond this period.

Based on plans, it appears Cozy Caravan‘s world will at least double in size, if not triple, in future. That’s likely to bring new opportunities for your cosy market, including fresh activities, new places to find froggy friends, more goods, and more recipes to whip up. With this added content, Cozy Caravan can evolve into something genuinely wonderful – a well-rounded and rewarding market sim oozing with charm.

For now, you can see the bones of this ambition in the existing game. Greater depths are needed for Cozy Caravan to realise its future goals, but with 5 Lives Studios keenly watching feedback, we’re likely to see the game progress rapidly from here.

Cozy Caravan is out now in early access.

A PC code for Cozy Caravan was provided to GamesHub by the publisher, and played on the Asus ROG Ally, for the purpose of these impressions.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.