Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge official artwork featuring Cleo, Axel, and frogs
Image via Armor Games Studio

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge Review — A Cozy Conservation Effort With a Nostalgic Kick

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is a uniquely fun farming sim fueled by heart, a message of conservation, and a whole lot of frogs.

From Armor Games Studio, Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is an original farming sim with more to it than a whole lot of frogs, though our amphibious friends are definitely the faces of this story. Sandwiched between a subtle narrative and a message of activism is a cozy conservation effort spotlighting — you guessed it — frogs. Helped along by gorgeous hand-drawn artwork, Kamaeru encourages its players to restore the natural habitats its mascots call home, customize the sanctuary, and, of course, discover as many frogs as they can along the way. While arduous, the task at hand is far more comforting than it is taxing, and it’s worth every hour spent playing.

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Calming Yet Compelling Gameplay Keeps You Collecting for Hours

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge focuses on restoring the natural habitats of frogs and insects to increase biodiversity and nourish the native frog population. While Armor Games Studio’s latest release wastes no time showing you the ropes of the sanctuary and encouraging you to realize new goals in your conservation efforts, Kamaeru also gives us a bit of backstory about our background protagonist, Cleo, and her childhood friend, Axel.

Axel reminds Cleo of their time spent admiring the wetlands in Kamaeru: A frog Refuge
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Like many kids, the two loved frogs. All grown up, the pair take it upon themselves to establish a frog refuge in the wetlands of their youth. The context isn’t totally central to the farming sim’s gameplay, but it does add a touch of sentiment to your endeavors as activists and longtime friends. On a hunch, I looked into the title’s meaning and how it relates to the game’s premise; naturally, the Japanese word kamaeru can be used in reference to building a home or caring for others, which are major themes at play in more ways than one.

A restored portion of the wetlands in Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Admittedly, I’m a huge sucker for themes of nostalgia, and even more so when my own childhood is reflected in a piece of media. Kamaeru fosters a familiar childlike impulse to collect and admire as many frogs as you can get your hands on — as well as the creepy crawlies they like to eat. This driving force is one I felt myself as a kid in Florida and again from the moment I picked up Armor Games’ uniquely comforting farming sim on Switch, and it’s kept me playing for hours on end. Collectors at heart will find themselves at home in the wetlands, where amphibious friends of endless patterns and color variations are wading in ponds or lounging around on wicker chairs or inside wheelbarrows, just waiting for an offering of flies.

So Many Frogs

Just when you think you’ve completed Kamaeru’s frogedex, as it were, an entirely new species appears with unfamiliar markings in a hue you’ve never seen before. Provided you’ve collected enough bugs to feed your company, you can tame just about any frog that wanders into the sanctuary. And that’s not the only way to register new species; Kamaeru also features several mini-games of sorts, including a breeding program.

Player and Anabelle play the tic-tac-toe frog breeding program
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Once unlocked, breeding your existing frogs can help you discover new colorways in a fun tic-tac-toe fashion. While the standard color variations you have to work with include banana, pink, aqua, kiwi, and silver, strategically planning the next trait you place on the board can lead to uncovering more nuanced tones, like cookie and blush. So far, my favorite frog is the Leopard Kiwi Pink, which I named Lisa Frank for obvious reasons.

The Leopard Kiwi Pink frog is discovered in Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge
Screenshot by GameSkinny

While there’s a veritable ton of frogs to find and register to the ‘dex, collection isn’t the only name of the game. Curating the wetlands and other biomes is a crucial aspect of Kamaeru, especially within your aims to bring more frogs to the area. This involves digging ponds and planting native greenery, like cattails and berry bushes. Of course, a bit of décor can’t hurt, either.

Bringing Frogs and Illustrators Back From the Brink

Armor Games’ amphibious farming sim is unmistakably soothing and surprisingly educational. The vast majority of titles within the genre bring longtime farming staples to the forefront, typically highlighting crops, farm animals, and home customization. Kamaeru is a highly original take on this cozy class of games, so much so that some might call it niche. Simply put, you’ve got to love frogs as much as the developers to get into this one — and it’s clear the team of artists behind the beautifully hand-drawn visuals knows their stuff.

Cleo and Anabelle observe a frog in a terrarium in Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Kamaeru doesn’t veer too far off from the farm sim genre at its core, but its narrative tidbits and forward message of conservation set it apart from the pack. As casually as you can customize your refuge and collect heaping amounts of frogs, the lesson here is that your goals wouldn’t be possible without taking the proper steps to restore native habitats and bring endangered species back from the brink of extinction. Caring about the cause is so central to the game that it’s in the name. I’ve got to hand it to the artists at Armor Games — the illustrated visuals throughout add a personal touch to the activist message and really drive it home, too.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge — The Bottom Line

A frog peeks out from behind a well in Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge
Screenshot by GameSkinny


  • Soothing gameplay that keeps you going
  • Clear-cut and compelling objectives
  • Adorably hand-drawn visuals
  • Loads of unique frogs to collect


  • You’ve got to like frogs — a lot

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is a uniquely fun farming sim, unlike others of recent years. It casually tugs at your heartstrings with surprisingly poignant pangs of nostalgia and an important overarching message of conservation masked by a simple goal to collect and raise countless adorable frogs. While Kamaeru isn’t too heavy on the narrative, you’ve got to love its amphibious mascots to really get your hands dirty in the wetlands and restore the native wildlife population. Despite its somewhat niche standing among cozy competitors, developers at Armor Games have managed to create an undeniably special game with a profound message.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge releases June 8, 2024, on Steam, Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series. Review code provided by Armor Game Studios. Gameplay tested on Nintendo Switch.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge Review — A Cozy Conservation Effort With a Nostalgic Kick
Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is a uniquely fun farming sim fueled by heart, a message of conservation, and a whole lot of frogs.

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Image of Olivia Rolls
Olivia Rolls
Olivia Rolls earned her degree in English from the College of Central Florida in 2021 and began her career as a freelance writer at Screen Rant the following year. She currently directs her creative efforts toward offering tips and insight on a wide variety of game titles at GameSkinny and BGFG, a passion she's held close to her heart since adventuring alongside Chikorita in Pokémon Crystal as a child. Olivia's all-time favorite franchises are Pokémon and Animal Crossing, but she's generally fond of fantasy RPGs and cozy games of all kinds. She's also a budding animanga enthusiast, her personal big three being Jujutsu Kaisen, Fruits Basket, and InuYasha.