In Camp Canyonwood Early Access, you play yourself. Well, a variant of yourself in the form of a bird avatar. You’ve just been recruited by Vernon, the vulture, who seemingly hasn’t taken a blind bit of notice about your credentials. It doesn’t matter – you’ve got the job.
Arriving on your first day, having just created the perfect you via customisation options (very cool, I hasten to add), Vernon will blurt out a mission statement about making sure you make money, keep the campers happy, and, ideally, keep them alive.
Camp Canyonwood Early Access isn’t all about Ging Gang Goolie and roasting your nuts on the fire; instead, it’s about learning about yourself through the medium of others. Show your ‘cadets’ how to cut down a tree or fish, and then they’ll repeat the action, thus earning a badge, honing their skills, and ensuring that their folks are getting their money’s worth sending their little rugrats to camp.
On the surface, Deli Interactive and Grafitti Games’ title is super cute, calm and collected. Stroll through the wilderness and meet some cute lil’ aminals, explore the surroundings, talk with your guests (earning some respect along the way), and generally enjoy the outdoors. In some ways, Camp Canyonwood Early Access is a lite version of Animal Crossing or Hokko Life. ‘Lite’ as there’s only so much you can do in camp.
However, the camp has a past, overlooked in my introduction, but should you pick up this game in Early Access, you’ll note the alarming number of posters at the entrance listing all the missing campers. Is there a Voorhees on the register? No, but maybe worse. There are supernatural powers at work here, and it’s not a coincidence that the lake is that creepy.
While cutting down trees and aiming to be a good role model, the clock never stops, and if time doesn’t have you hitting the sack, your energy levels will deplete and force your hand. So, you end each day, maybe tell a ghost story or two, and in your dreams (or nightmares) are visited by the ominous jackalope ‘The Jack’. Said character will drip-feed you information about your predecessors and the surroundings and make a deal with him to swap the skills you have learned, cashing them in for inventory spots.
When you complete an action, you’ll typically acquire materials that can be used to craft something or exchanged with your fellow Camp Canyonwood staff. There are eight slots by default, hotkeys assigned, and they fill up pretty quick. An advantage is you can drop items and come back for them or hand them to the kids – particularly important if you assign them a task such as fishing; they need a rod to do so.
It’s essential to keep the campers happy because, as mentioned, the parents are the ones who are paying your wage. After each day ends, there will be a countdown for when summer will end and an update, represented by stars, on how happy the campers are. At the end of summer (about eight or nine days), you’ll get a summary of how many badges the kids earned, how much money was made, plus some reviews from the parents. The score you get will then improve the overall reputation of the camp.
It’s easy to… keep a tab…. on things in Camp Canyonwood Early Access, as pressing tab will bring up your status. Included are the campers’ well-being, such as their health, safety and fun, an inventory list, current skills, messages that hint at tasks, and a to-do list. This isn’t your typical objective list as you can add your own such as poo in the woods, cook marshmallows, and abandon the kids in the scary forest. These are all make-believe, of course, but it’s a nice touch to stay on top of things by making a custom list.
There were a couple of teething issues with the Early Access. If you try to make a deal with The Jack before speaking to him and exit, you can’t return to the conversation or take up his offer. Additionally, some text does overlay other text now and again. Not game-breaking – especially as it’s Early Access, but something to note at this current stage.
Camp Canyonwood Early Access is a fun experience once you learn how to delegate. A bit like real life. Getting your kids to do tasks will improve the camp’s reputation, keep them happy as well as the parents, earn money, and have the place running tippety-top without lifting a finger. Great if you like lifestyle sims that aren’t just cute on the surface but layered with a degree of mystery along the way…