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Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge (Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, & PC)

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The Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge, refuge in the daytime.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is a game that is supposed to bring relaxing gameplay mixed with the idea of collecting frogs. The game sends you to a refuge where you will work to make a safe haven for frogs while fixing up the local wetlands. The game is billed as a farming simulator with a relaxing atmosphere that players can sink hours into. In our review, we take a look at just how fun it is to collect frogs and how the Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge holds up after playing for several hours.

Restoring The Wetlands

The start of Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge.

The game has a very straightforward story: you return to a place from your childhood and team up with your buddy Axel. Together, you work to make a frog sanctuary while restoring the nearby natural wetlands to their former glory. This is pretty shallow, and the speed at which your main character takes to the wetlands is pretty fast. Once there, you will be able to chat with Axel, and there are points where the story will advance. The game does have an ending, but it will take you several hours of grinding to get there.  If you're here for a deep story or lore, you're not going to find that in Kamaeru; it's very much a slow-paced game that focuses on its gameplay.

Waiting in The Wetlands

The wetlands in Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge.

The first thing you should note is that while it's a farming sim, it's a very light one. You're not going to be watering crops, upgrading equipment, or raking in cash from huge harvests. Instead, you're going to be doing a lot of buying and waiting. When you start out, you will soon be whisked away to the wetlands after getting your first frog and snapping some pictures. Once there, you're told you need to restore it. Doing this is by buying plant and pond recipes from the shack. Once this is done, you can use your editor menu to plop down patches of water and plants around them for a price. Plants will grow food that can be cooked to make money, and the water sources will attract bugs that you can feed to frogs to tame them.

You're not going to be using a net for bugs or watering plants; they just spawn after a short amount of time. Once they spawn you click to collect plants from the menu, or hover over the pond with and click to collect the bugs. Of course, as you grow, you can hire a helper, but for the first little bit, you're going to be sitting there just a bit bored, waiting for enough items to spawn to make money. If you're looking to tame frogs, then you may be waiting a bit longer, as it seems like they may have spawned a bit slower. Of course, that could be a bit of impatience as it certainly wasn't fun waiting for a fly to decide and show up.

Worse yet, the wetlands cooking mini-game is the same for every recipe. The mini-game isn't enjoyable and made me wish it was just a one-button press. To make goods to sell, you must first select a recipe. If you choose the wrong one, too bad, you're locked in. Once the recipe is selected, you must click and drag the ingredients to the pot and then press the flashing red button. You must then adjust the solar panels to project light down to your cooking machine. After this, a mini-game will be played where if you press the other red flashing button at the right time, you will get extra food. Sadly, no matter how much of an item you make, this mini-game is always the same length, which felt a bit unfair.

To wrap the wetlands section up with a positive note, you can find frogs there to tame while you are waiting. These will likely be frogs you already have though, and outside of this, there isn't all that much to do even when the game picks up. For the right person, this pace could feel nice, especially if you're looking for a game to play in between classes or while taking a short break from work.


Breeding in Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge.

Many players who found themselves happily clicking away at games like Neko Atsume or Cozy Grove likely felt pulled to Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge. One of the best parts about those two games is they may have only really had bears and cats, but they made them unique. In Kamaeru, there is no Tubbs to eat all your food or Francesca DuClaw to learn the backstory of. Instead, you are left with frogs of different colors. Sure, some may have polka-dots or other fun patterns, but none of them were distinct. Some frogs even have the same color body, but their legs will be colored pink or blue. Sadly, if there hanging out in the water, you may find yourself excitedly clicking away just to be disappointed by a dupe.

There are also no stories with these frogs, and you need to attract them by placing different types of furniture. If you place the right piece, then a new frog might show up, and it could even do something cute to grab a photo of. If you want to try your hand at making your own new frog, then you can go to the lab. Here, you play another mini-game, this time related to tic-tac-toe. The winning row decides one of the frog's primary traits, and to be honest, this also wasn't that fun. Once you're done, the randomizer will pop out your new frog, which is already an adult.  It doesn't take much money to do this, but it does take some patience.

Speaking of money, it's one of the worst parts of the game. You need money to breed, buy new plants, expand the refuge, save the wetlands, and buy new furniture.  Players get this by selling items made by playing the cooking mini-game. You can't just pop out of the mini-game to sell your item stock, though. Instead, you must go to the wetlands to cook and then click the button to go back to the refuge. Once there, you need to move to the bottom and click on the shop. From there, you can go to the sell tab to offload your goods. If it sounds a bit tedious, then you're right. Making money was not fun, especially in the early game, and while it gets better, it just feels boring.

Creating Your Frog Refuge

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge, refuge night time.

One thing that the game does remind you to do is to take things slow, which isn't hard considering the waiting and grindy nature of things. While the game could certainly be more enjoyable at a slow pace. For a player who is looking to sink hours into frog collecting, the game is a bit hard to get behind. The main point of the game actually seems to be decorating, but this is a bit limited until you get your wetlands more automated. Sure, you can place a few logs every five to ten minutes, but that doesn't really scratch that decorating itch. You aren't doing something like in Animal Crossing to actively make money or build your furniture. You're just waiting.

Even expanding is slow, as it takes 1,500 coins. This is a pretty daunting task at first, and all it does is give you more room. Even things like your level don't really feel all that rewarding compared to other games. While you still unlock more things to do by raising your level, it just doesn't feel as great as other titles. We should also mention that frogs quickly pop in and out, so if you are planning to make a cute set-up for your favorite, you are going to be a bit disappointed. There is a good bit of furniture, and a lot of it can be customized to different colors.  The art style is cute, and the soundtrack is relaxing, but many games may feel disappointed in the refuge.

Hopping On Home

One of the side characters in Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is the type of game that could probably be enjoyed more on a mobile device. If this was a free game with purchases or even a cheap game on phones, more players would probably enjoy it. As it is now, the game presents itself as a full-indie game, but there is just too much waiting involved. At many points, it felt like playing a sped-up idle simulator without all the ads. The lack of distinct frogs was heavily felt, and while the decorating could be nice, it would feel better on a touch screen. We played the PC version of the game, but it seems like it would be even less comfortable to use a controller to drag and drop the various items.

While Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge isn't a bad game, it's not an exciting one either. If you like frogs and decorating, then this might be good to pick up in the future, but if you're a fan of deep, cozy games, you will want to skip out on this one for a while.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge (Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, & PC)

A Slow Restoration

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is a game that sounds good on paper, but it just doesn’t feel all that fun. While it has a cute and cozy style, you will be waiting a lot, especially in the early parts of the game. Even when things get rolling, the game feels shallow, and the lack of interesting frog designs really hurts the title. If you’re looking for something to play in small bursts and just like to decorate, though, then you may find a bit more enjoyment in Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge.

Judson Holley is a writer that began his career as a ghostwriter. Returning to the mortal coil  to work among the living. With some of his favorite games being tactical FPS games such as Squad and the Arma series. Although this could not be further from the truth as he enjoys games with deep stories such as the Kingdom Hearts series as well as Jade Empire and The Knights of the Old Republic series. When not attending to his wife, Judson often tends to his cats. He also has a knack for music mainly composing for and playing piano.