Original concepts are becoming increasingly hard to come by yet Grow Home's unique premise will make your imagination run wild. If you're ready, let's plant some seeds, boot up our robot buddy, and see what it's all about.
Grow Home puts you in control of a robot named Bud whose job it is to explore a planet and report back to Mom. In order to tour all the land filled with floating islands, he'll need to grow enormous plants that he can climb to traverse previously unreachable locales. As soon as Bud finds himself grasping a sprout, he can ride and control it while it extends to wherever he wishes. As you progress, the tangled mess of plant vines will give you quite the sense of accomplishment especially when you're two kilometers up in the air. You control Bud somewhat clumsily as he has a great deal of inertia but that makes mastering his subtleties all the more rewarding. You can jump, learn new abilities, use certain flora to hover, and grab on to any surface by holding the shoulder buttons which correspond to each of Bud's hands. It takes some getting used to as you'll fall quite often on the road to discovery, but the amount of enjoyable quirkiness the gameplay offers more than makes up for any accidental slip-ups.
Visually, you're treated to a colourful palette of solidly coloured polygons that are reminiscent of a typical 32-bit game. However, the graphics create more of a whimsical atmosphere than a nostalgic one. Bud is animated seamlessly as he excitedly runs to his next destination while the few critters that inhabit the land are both peculiar and cute. One aspect that blew me away is the fantastic audio. Soundscapes are filled with relaxing music and Bud's eccentric robo-chatter. This complements the visuals perfectly to craft an irresistibly extraordinary experience that's both fun to play and watch.
Although you can complete Bud's main objective within a couple hours, there are many intricacies just waiting to be discovered. Collecting crystals reward Bud with new abilities when he reaches certain thresholds. These abilities are not only a satisfying achievement; they also make the gameplay much more intuitive as they allow Bud to manoeuvre around the planet with ease. You also have the option to locate various plants and creatures that you can scan at terminals to fill a catalog of documented life. Even after you complete your primary objective, another optional adventure presents itself immediately after. There's certainly a lot to explore and discover which will keep perfectionists busy for much longer than they would expect. All of that being said, those just looking to play the core journey might be let down by its brevity. Therefore, if you're the type who doesn't like to explore then you'll surely miss out.
There isn't much about Grow Home to speak negatively of. As previously mentioned, the controls will occasionally make you fall. The other contributor to this is the fact that it's difficult to judge which way down is when you're really high up. As a result, you might think that you're about to let go of holding a rock to land safely on a vine yet Bud falls in another direction. You get used to how to handle these situations as you play, but it's still a highly annoying learning experience. The only other issue I had was a few glitches that emerged which included falling through the ground and being stuck in tight places. These didn't happen often enough to take away from the overall splendor, but when they did occur it definitely made things feel significantly less engaging in that moment.
Grow Home isn't a game that I expected to fall in love with but after playing for a while and letting it wash over me, I can easily say that it's one of the most imaginative and enjoyable gaming experiences that I've played so far this year.
- + Innovative gameplay will keep you hooked
- + Awe-inspiring level of imagination portrayed through colourful visuals and great audio
- + Tons of enjoyable intricacies to discover
- - Although quirky and fun, the controls make it easy to slip up and fall to your demise
- - It's a little on the short side
- - Minor glitches occur intermittently