Developer: Ubisoft Reflections
Platforms: PC, PS4
Reviewed on PS4
GROW Home has taught me that I am not scared of heights, but I am scared of falling.
There is a simplistic beauty to everything in Grow Home that is charming and just complex enough to draw you in.
You play as a cute fumbling droid called B.U.D. who has been dropped onto a remote island, with the goal of growing a plant big enough to reach his mother ship (called M.O.M.) up in the Stratosphere.
Aesthetically, the presentation is one step ahead of Minecraft and a step behind Tearaway.
Textures are absent, colours are bold and diverse lighting gives form to the rather abstract models; it is all quite pretty really.
There is a child like wonder to exploring Grow Home’s modest vertical world.
B.U.D. moves in an unco-ordinated manner, much like a toddler, he is all limbs and good intentions as he vaguely follows where you point the left stick.
His quick acceleration means he can easily stumble off a cliff with a 2,000ft drop waiting for him, this is where the ‘grab and climb’ mechanics are at their most vital.
B.U.D.’s left and right hands are tied to the shoulder buttons, holding one down makes him grab with the corresponding hand.
The little droid’s unyielding strength means that even at terminal velocity he can save himself by gripping on to a branch that was rushing past.
He is able to climb up any surface by alternating which hand he is holding on with, at first this feels clumsy but quickly becomes an intuitive system that I would like to see more of.
B.U.D.’s hands are a big part of the game, he is constantly holding them in front of himself, ready to scale a tree or uproot a mushroom.
Again, like a child, you find yourself discovering the world through touch and grabbing on to things to see what they are or what they do.
Ubisoft Reflections use this child-like world discovery as a consistent theme.
M.O.M. sends encouraging messages at poignant intervals, such as “Play nice down there” and “You’re doing really well.”
While B.U.D. himself communicates with nothing more than gurgles and jargon, designed to sound like a robot baby’s first words.
It is a comforting theme and does well to dissipate feelings of danger during the two kilometre climb to M.O.M.
It is not a difficult game in any sense, though I did manage to die twice on my journey, once dropping into the ocean and another after being bitten by a venus fly-trap.
There is no real punishment for dying, though you will mutter “uh-oh” to yourself when the boulder you are clinging to decides it would like to experience a 200 mile an hour face-plant on the Earth’s crust.
There is a fun time to be had in Grow Home, though in hindsight the map will seem tiny and the visuals are perhaps over simplified at times.
What unlockables there are don’t really push the boat out either.
The first three can be gained within an hour and they are the only ones that you will ever need.
Grow Home is a wondrous game built around a brilliant and simple idea; go up.
+ Comforting maternal theme
+ Climbing controls
+ Simple but effective visuals and mechanics.
- Not enough unlockables
- Sometimes it is too simple
- Climbing two kilometres is a relatively quick task.
See full story in the County Times