Grow Home is an interesting little game out of Ubisoft Reflections that’s built around a core premise of exploration and traversal. If you haven’t heard of this PC-only title, we can’t blame you for it. The game was only announced a short while ago, and given a surprise release date to take place shortly thereafter. The game is now out on Steam, and it’s an impressive blend of 3-D Platforming and Physics-based gameplay.
In Grow Home, players are controlling B.U.D. (Botanical Utility Droid) who is sent on a mission to collect the seeds of a massive alien plant. What the player encounters is a world centered around this giant “Star Plant”, which B.U.D. must manipulate to grow higher and higher. Grow Home is fairly light on story, the gameplay is the real main attraction here.
It’s pretty clear from the onset that this is a physics driven title, B.U.D. moves around awkwardly, and getting the hang of controls can take a little while. Ubisoft recommends a controller for Grow Home, and we wholeheartedly agree. The main controls of the game involve using the Left and Right triggers to latch on to parts of the environment to climb. It’s fairly simple though, click the trigger and you’ll grab with the corresponding arm of the robot. Hold the trigger and you’ll stay latched on with that hand. Alternate hands to move around the branches and rocks of the world to push higher into the sky. Accidentally let go, and you’ll go plummeting to your death.
Grow Home most certainly feels experimental, but it’s well thought out when it comes to gameplay ideas, and it’s definitely enjoyable while it lasts. As you come to terms with the traversal in Grow Home, you’ll be more comfortable with leaping from branch to branch or scaling the side of a rock face, and that’ll come in handy. There’s a light progression system that involves navigating the environment to collect crystals. As you collect said crystals, which are scattered in both plain sight and obscure locations, you’ll earn power-ups that enable you to perform special abilities like jet boosting, parachuting, and leaf gliding. This is the exploration part of Grow Home. You’ll be given audio cues that a crystal may be nearby, and you can search around for them. This may entail you making a risky maneuver to procure the item with no safety net. Getting the bare minimum of these crystals will give you enough ability to reach the very top of the game without much of a problem.
The world of Grow Home is vertically built, with many floating platforms surrounding the central plant. This main plant continues to grow skyward as B.U.D. connects platforms, which is done by latching on to offshoots of the main stalk, riding and steering them to these other areas. The game is broken down into a few different elevation markers, which gives you some checkpoints for your progression, but you can also see the plant growing higher in real time. Teleporters are also located throughout the world at different elevation markers and function as save points, and will make your climb a little easier if you tend to be a careless climber. Different parts of the environment have different effects. Leaves can be bounced on to gain great height for jumps, branches can be extended to join platforms, geysers can be ridden and coupled with power-ups to make long rides across massive gaps. Grow Home is incredibly fun to experiment with in these traversal mechanics.
Grow Home Gameplay
Getting to the top of the stalk in Grow Home won’t take you more than a couple of hours at most. Turning in that seed for analysis is only the beginning though. If you’re enjoying your time climbing around in this colorful polygonal world, you’ll be given the option to collect more seeds. Unfortunately, the game has only got this single layout. And while it can be altered and traversed in any number of ways, the fun could die out on successive playthroughs for some. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to uncover however, and the objective is much less rigid than getting from point A to point B when collecting the additional seeds. You’ll do some free form exploring of the world if you want to find them all. This is the part of the game that was really impressive. There’s something very compelling about even the simple accomplishments in Grow Home, and that’s the nature of a good 3-D Platformer. Getting from point A to point B is simple in theory, but extremely satisfying because of its sandbox nature and limitless ways to do so, regardless of if there was an objective in place or not.
Grow Home feels original and different in ways that we rarely see anymore, even if its basically a game about climbing and collecting. Grow Home isn’t awfully deep, nor does it provide any real story to hook you, but this game taps into the pleasure centers of seeing something and going there… however you may choose to do so.
- Available On: PC
- Published By: Ubisoft
- Developed By: Ubisoft Reflections
- Genre: Platformer
- US Release Date: February 4th, 2015
- Reviewed On: PC
- Quote: "Grow Home isn't awfully deep, nor does it provide any real story to hook you, but this game taps into the pleasure centers of seeing something and going there... however you may choose to do so."