Grow Home is a game that i have heard overwhelmingly positive feedback about, so much that I needed to see this game for myself. On it’s face this game furthers a trend from Ubisoft of releasing small but clever and unique games at lower prices beginning with, to my recollection, Rayman Origins.
As an adult with two jobs and a child, a lot of my time playing video games has been focused on smaller games that are ideal for shorter play sessions. I heard that Grow Home was only a few hours long so I thought that this would be right up my alley. While I was pleasantly surprised with this game, I do think that all of the hyperbole surrounding it is uncalled for. I found this game simply to be good and that is all. The game is competent at what it does, but it does not excel at anything and it has moments that are extremely frustrating.
Grow home is a 3d platformer, but an incredibly basic one. Grow Home takes the genre and strips it down to its core essentials, platforming. The player assumes the role of BUD, an android who is supposed to be helping his stranded spaceship get home. His spaceship is in orbit around a planet that has a “Star Plant”. If BUD is able to help the “Star Plant” grow the 2000 metres up to his ship then he can use it’s power to get home. This is accomplished by getting the plant’s vines to connect to different islands floating in the sky. There is no over world or level selection that has become common in this type of genre, the player is plopped down onto the ground and told to climb up this plant, and that is pretty much it.
Grow Home does have other 3d platformer tropes, such as collecting; however, unlike in other games where you collect for the sake of collecting, the items that you collect in this game increase your ability to move around the world. Scattered throughout the world are little power orbs that give BUD a jetpack and then increase the range of this jetpack. This allows him to reach new areas and move faster through the world than he could before. This is an example of collecting done correctly, since the rewards for collecting these items are given to you frequently and there is a narrative reason to collect. Nothing frustrates me more than collecting items that serve no purpose to the narrative or mechanics of a game, like the stupid feathers in Assassins Creed 2.
The sound effects and music are top notch, BUD makes cute little robot sounds as he travels through this odd world. Though the sounds of BUD climbing up surfaces does get annoying after a while, and you will be hearing that sound a lot. A majority of your time with this game will be spent climbing up the side of the Star Plant or along the side of a cliff. The only real issue I have with this game is that I did not enjoy the platforming, instead it really frustrated me.
As I said earlier, a lot of time will be spent climbing up vertical surfaces, this is done by alternating trigger buttons on a controller. The rate that you climb up surfaces is incredibly slow and I found the act of climbing everything very tedious preventing me from enjoying the game. When you are not climbing surfaces controlling BUD is not very fun at all. BUD is clumsy and wobbly, he moves like he is drunk. Controlling BUD is very similar to controlling Niko Bellic after he has been drinking a lot in Grand Theft Auto 4. With the character wobbling and having a lengthy delay once you press a button or move one of the analog sticks. There are some objectives in the game that require you to grab items bringing them to one of the teleporters that are scattered through the world. Completing these objectives, with the controls, is incredibly frustrating, and I can not even tell you how many stupid sheep have gotten thrown off of a cliff because of the way the game controls.
Aside from the very major issue with the controls, this is still an enjoyable game. I would highly recommend trying this game before spending any money on it because the controls may be off putting to some and not to others. I found the idea of playing this platformer where all of your progress is measured in your vertical movement to be novel. I appreciated the complete lack of tedious tasks that have been polluting other games recently. If you do not mind the loose controls and possibly enjoy playing as a stumbling drunk robot then you check it out. If you got it in September 2015 as part of your Playstation+ subscription then you should definitely check it out.