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Review: Grow Home

by onFebruary 8, 2015
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Reflections Interactive is certainly one of the smallest studios in Ubisoft’s roster. Yet its repertoire has some prestigious licenses such as Destruction Derby, Driver or even Shadow of the Beast if we go back to the days of the Amiga. Lately, the English studio was used primarily as a co-developer of AAA titles including Far Cry 3, Watch Dogs and The Crew, but now they present to us a small project – out of nowhere – developed in an “independent” manner: Grow Home.

Take control of a robot smartly name BUD (Botanical Utility Droid)

Parachuted on a planet sheltering a “Star Plant”, you take control of a robot smartly name BUD (Botanical Utility Droid), is in charge of helping the plant grow until it reaches the sky… And that’s about it for the script, deliberately minimalist, explained within the first seconds of the game. Nevertheless, Grow Home focuses primarily on its gameplay, which is heavily emphasized on exploration and the freedom of choice of the player. After a crash landing on the planet, our Botanical Utility Droid quickly regains the ability to jump by absorbing a crystal on the map. It can then absorb up to 100 crystals throughout the game, to unlock new abilities at various levels.

Ubisoft - Grow Home - VGProfessional Review (7)

As you soon start getting a hand of collecting these crystals, you get to find fun abilities like the jet pack, which will help out finding the rest of these shiny stones and finish your main mission. Although it is possible to complete the game without worrying about these stones, you can rely on your hero’s main specialty: climbing. A stroke to the left or right trigger (right click or left click if you’re using a mouse), you can climb almost everywhere: one hand is enough to cling to the walls, and should help you asses the right pace for climbing in the smoothest possible way.

But to indulge in the joys of the climb, you need a support worthy of the name. Bud will need to access buds located on either side of the main plant and connect them to floating islands in the sky to help it grow several hundred meters higher. After a certain number of connections, the central structure of the plant will rise by several meters, allowing you to access new levels often accompanied by a teleportation device that will serve useful in case of a nasty fall. Note, that despite its simple appearances, the structure of the game world will not be the same for each of you, as the world is randomly generated.

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If things are simple with minimal risks early in the game, the progress towards your ship up in sapce will get increasingly complex to the extent that connecting floating islands will be more widely spaced. The buds do not have an infinite capacity for growth, and it is often that you’ll find yourself hanging in the middle of nowhere, away from your target. A great test to your observation skills and agility, you will be forced to assess the various elements of the scenery to understand how to reach your goal.

Some will appreciate this sleek “Darwinian” universe

In short, there is not much to say about Grow Home gameplay or on its ways to achieve your goals, even if from time to time, the camera will become a little buggy and prevent you to maintain a good apprehension of the next move to make. On its art direction, another highlight of Grow Home, it is rather difficult to explain. Some will appreciate this sleek “Darwinian” universe, including shades of colors giving the whole a calm and relaxing atmosphere, others will be put off by this minimalism. The soundtrack itself is a quiet one but easily managed to restore the aerial dimension of the game. I could only blame Grow Home to be a little short – Less than two hours for my part – unless you’re a completionist kind of gamer. Between finding all the hidden caves and 100 gems, that should extend your gameplay to around 10 hours, but after reaching your final goal, there won’t be much of reasons to go back into the game… Unless you want to therapeutically relax to the calm and soothing sounds of a robot in a Darwinian planet.

Grow Home was reviewed using a PC redeemable code of the game provided by Ubisoft Abu Dhabi. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.

What we liked

• Nicely done vertical gameplay
• Robot Animation
• A Darwinian Art Direction
• Really low price

What is not fun

• Missing some music
• Too short

Editor Rating
 
Concept
8.0

 
Graphics
8.5

 
Sound
8.0

 
Playability
9.0

 
Entertainment
9.0

 
Replay Value
7.0

Final Score
8.3


Our final verdict
 

Ubisoft is definitely a two-headed hydra: known from their high end AAA titles, the French publisher regularly gives little heartwarming gems of gaming experience. After Child of Light and Valiant Hearts: The Great War, it is now Grow Home that takes us by surprise and I'm sincerely delighted. The Graphics, gameplay and atmosphere of this platform game is like no other at all. Given that this gem is nicely priced at less than $8, it would really be a shame for you not to try it.

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