For the second game in my “taking a break from huge titles” series, I dove into Grow Home, a small game by Ubisoft.  It’s weird to see a game like this by such a huge company.  Two hours after buying it, I completed it.  The verdict?  A neat game with some cool mechanics if you can get it cheap.

It's certainly got a unique look to it.
It’s certainly got a unique look to it.

  • TL;DR: Platformer with fun controls and harrowing heights
  • Platform: PC, PS4 (reviewed)
  • Hours Played: 2
  • What I Played: Completed the main campaign.
  • Who Should Play It?: Platformer fans with a few hours to burn.

Grow Home stars B.U.D. (Botanical Utility Droid) and his adventure to grow the Star Plant up to 2,000m.  That’s really about it — grow the plant, harvest the Star Seeds at the top, and return to the mothership.

Most of the fun in Grow Home comes from how it plays and how it controls.  It only takes about five seconds to realize how strange B.U.D. moves.  It’s almost like he’s both drunk and has no bones.  When B.U.D. runs and turns, his upper body and head turn way before his legs do, so he’s almost diagonal with the ground.  His arms flail all over the place, too, making the simple act of moving quite an experience.

B.U.D. can grab onto anything and everything in the world, which means you can scale and climb whatever you want to.  Since he moves so strangely, you’ll sometimes see him reach one arm through his body to the other side when climbing sideways.  B.U.D. can also get all sorts of tangled up and look like he’s seriously injured.  It’s both funny and strange, but definitely adorable.

He's so cute!
He’s so cute.  Just look at his little backpack!

Growing the Star Plant means climbing up the main stalk over to a red-flowered branch.  Once B.U.D. grabs onto a red flower, you can trigger the flower’s growth.  All you have to do is steer the branch, which starts off like a bat out of hell until it gradually slows down.  You have to steer the branches towards floating energy rocks, which feed the main Star Plant and help it grow.  One thing to keep in mind is that the growing branches spawn other growing branches, so you’ll have to walk back down a finished growth to trigger the next one.  Long story short, don’t grow a branch completely vertically unless you want to spend a lot of time slowly climbing back down.

One of the unique parts of Grow Home is how vertical it is.  I mean, the main goal is to grow a plant towards the sky.  It can be dizzying at times and you definitely do not want to fall.  Climbing back to the top, especially as the game goes on, can take up to 10 minutes.  By the end, the Star Plant grows straight up towards B.U.D.’s ship in the stratosphere.

Not great, Bob.
Not great, Bob.

As the Star Plant grows, it will crash through a few different miniature worlds each with their own settings like an island of mushrooms and an ice cavern.  There are also a handful of plants and animals that B.U.D.’s ship’s computer, named M.O.M., can identify and catalog for you.  Some of the descriptions can be pretty funny, like the carrot which is used in “recipes for 75k soups, 25k cakes, and 1 brownie,” but I didn’t bother collecting much of those items.

Scattered around the map are 100 crystals which unlock power-ups for B.U.D.’s mobility as the game moves on.  The rocket pack, while it has a short fuel gauge, can be key in getting just close enough to grab the Star Plant instead of falling to the ground.  You also need to unlock the ability to zoom out, which sounds strange but is true.  On top of that, B.U.D. can hold a single item to help with floating, whether it be a flower with slowing-dying petals or a large leaf to basically surf with.

Grow Home is a very unique game in the graphical department.  It’s got an old school, polygonal look but the plant growth is procedural and dynamic.  Everything is very bright, whether it’s B.U.D.’s red body, the bright green Star Plant, or the vibrant blue sky.  It’s a pretty game to look at in the two to three hours it takes to complete it.

A robot growing a plant towards space. Weird premise, fun couple of hours.
A robot growing a plant towards space. Weird premise, fun couple of hours.

All in all, I think I liked Grow Home.  It was definitely short — it only took me a single two-hour session to finish it — but since there isn’t much in the line of upgrades or abilities, it’s better that it didn’t drag on.  The bright, vibrant colors are nice to look at and the retro, polygon graphics are both cool and nostalgic.  This is one of the shorter reviews I’ve written in a while, but that’s because there isn’t much to really say about Grow Home.  It’s a fun distraction and worth it if you can get it for, say, $10 or less.

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