Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is a pure slice of bliss

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge tasks you with creating a biodiverse wetland, and then caring for the frogs that take residence there.
kamaeru a frog refuge review

How often do you stop in your day, and take time to breathe? I’d wager it’s not often, whether by your own choice or not. Modern living means we’re so often caught on the hamster wheel, running in circles with no opportunity for meaningful pause. Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge took me off the hamster wheel forcibly, in the days following Summer Game Fest.

After a rush of major game announcements and feature after feature, it was this wholesome and cosy game that interjected in my busy day-to-day. “Hey,” it said. “It’s okay to take a break. Put up your feet for a bit.” And in taking a break, I found a wonderful reward.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is not a particularly complex game. You won’t spend hours working out systems or figuring out how to min-max your frog refuge. It’s not about that. In the same way Neko Atsume encourages idle gameplay in an idyllic world, Kamaeru invites you to lightly manage a wetland ecosystem, for the sole purpose of befriending, photographing, and breeding frogs.

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You begin this process simply, by purchasing furniture for the frogs to lounge around in. Money can be earned by building up a wetland and crafting various items (jams, ground nettles) to sell at a local shop. Then, you’re free to establish a mini playground for potential froggy friends, who then occupy your outdoor lounges and beds, smiling to the camera or hanging their tiny froggy bums out for a cheeky show.

kaemeru a frog refuge gameplay
Screenshot: GamesHub

Finding a new frog is its own reward. There’s different coloured ones, spotty ones, and dotty ones – all of them waiting to hop onto your furniture, and beam with the power of the sun. You can take a photograph of them if you’re quick enough, or click to feed them bugs, and tame them. Once they’ve been tamed, you can head to the local breeding lab to create new frog variations, as you work to fill out an album of new friends, in all colours and patterns.

While you’re gathering new friends, you’re also tasked with maintaining a wetland of ponds and shrubs. In this location, you’ll be able to gather bugs and new frogs, while also discovering new technology, which attracts new frog species, and allows you to craft more items.

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Again, this is a simple process. Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is not about packing in complex management systems – it’s about taking your time, and letting your thoughts wander. You may dig deep into its research systems to fill out your entire album of 500+ frog variants, but personally, I found the most satisfaction in letting Kamaeru play out in slower fashion. Let the frogs come to you, and you’ll find their appearance all the more delightful.

With patience, you can also greatly expand your frog refuge – earning money, placing items, and watching frogs jump onto your furniture with great enthusiasm. Sometimes, frogs will sit in your outdoor bath tub and simply bask, their faces bright and wholesome. Some frogs will struggle getting into the bath tub, and leave themselves adorably half-hanging out. It’s very cute, and a lovely answer for the rush of real life.

You can’t be stressed when a tiny little frog is peeking out at you from behind a lounge chair.

kamaeru a frog refuge
Screenshot: GamesHub

While it lacks the impetus and time pressure of other management sims, that leaves Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge ample space to massage your mind. It invites you into a cosy realm of frogs and peace, and lets you go at your own pace, all while treating you to froggy surprises along the way.

For those who need a moment – just a moment – it’s a lovely breath of fresh air. With the pace of modern living, we could certainly all use one of those.

Kaemeru: A Frog Refuge is now available on PC and consoles.

A PC code for Kaemeru: A Frog Refuge was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.

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.