Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge review

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge review

Environmental sim building meets animal collecting in this new cozy game

Somewhat shadow dropped during the Wholesome Direct stream during this year’s Summer Game Fest is Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge, a sort of environmental sim builder for cute amphibians. The game has us revitalizing a wetlands area, making it habitable again for frogs. The frogs come in several different species and variations, and as we’re trying to both bring them all back we can also set them up in fun, interesting poses to take photos of.

The game basically starts out really heavy on the reconstruction of things and getting our business going to allow ourselves to buy things like props and other elements to encourage the frogs to come. Taking their photos allows them to gain a sort of trust in us, allowing us to eventually feed them too. All of that allows us to capture them and add them to our collection to become a permanent member of the refuge.

After a while, as we establish our wetlands and put in different ponds and plants and berry bushes, we can gain resources which will help us feed the frogs and have them join us. We can also turn the berries into products to sell, which then gains us more money to buy more stuff and expand even more. At some point we can even open up a paper mill where we convert cattails and other things into paper, letting us sell notebooks and stuff. Creating products relies on a sort of mini game that we have to do, but it’s fairly basic and requires us to have to repeat it over and over just to make the products that we want.

It’s a lot, and it just keeps getting layered and layered in interesting ways.

Eventually the game switches away from that wetlands revitalizations sim to a full on frog town. The devs give us a lot to do, like hooking us up with a jungle gym so that we can have three frogs climbing on at the same time and take a photo, or a breeding section that helps us acquire all of the different frog species. Breeding is almost like a competitive puzzle. The bog has a base color, but we can eventually come across new patterns that let us interbreed the frogs in a sort of tic-tac-toe type of mini game. We need to try to match the patterns on a board in a series of lines to ensure we get the traits that we want. After we take a turn placing a square, the computer takes a turn, and we try to form different lines and characteristics to hopefully get closer to the variations that we want. If that sounds complex, we can still just sit around and hope that the frog that we want will specifically show up. Good luck waiting, though.

The game has a lot of story built in, involving not only the premise of building the wetlands and rescuing frogs, but also in how the different characters react and form relationships. It’s not too heavy, it’s really just there to support us, to give us reasoning of why we’re trying to take a photo gallery of all these frogs.

Kamaeru is built around cute frog-collecting, with some interesting sim and business aspects added in. It’s not too heavy on the latter, and with the friendly plot it may be just enough to keep us engaged to go forward. If we love frogs, and frankly we all should, then this is definitely a game to check out.

This review is based on a Steam code sent to SideQuesting by the publisher. It first appeared on The SideQuest LIVE on June 12, 2024. Images and video courtesy the publisher.