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Grow Home (Video Game Review)

Grow Home is a new game from Ubisoft and their development studio Reflections that casts players as a robot sent to an uncivilized planet to grow a special tree and harvest its seeds needed to save the protagonist's home planet. The Botanical Utility Droid or B.U.D. is the star of the game, and his quirky characteristics is one big reason that Grow Home is a game to remember. The game is presented with a unique style that is reminiscent of classic platforming games from the PlayStation era with advanced graphics that are presented in excellent cel-shaded form. Grow Home is a truly great experience for gamers during the roughly 10-hour long campaign.

The world of Grow Home is presented with a last robot on the planet narrative. B.U.D.'s only companion on the adventure is an artificial intelligence appropriately codenamed M.O.M. that guides the player though the game's opening tutorial and beyond. The game's storyline unfolds as almost a coming of age tale, as the opening scene of the game has B.U.D. crash land on the remote planet containing the elusive Star Plant, though the character can barely walk at first and must find an energy source to continue through the game. By the end of the game, players will have gained a strong bond with B.U.D. that will have players feeling truly sentimental about the game's shocking ending.

The primary focus of gameplay in Grow Home is exploration through climbing and moving objects through the environment. Players always have the primary objective of growing and climbing the Star Plant in order to eventually grow it enough to harvest seeds to take back to B.U.D.'s home planet. The game is an open world though, so it's really up to the player how to achieve this task and to set a pace at which to discover the game's secrets.

Grow Home features overly complicated controls that actually work in the game's favor most of the time. B.U.D. has strange animations that make starting and stopping movement a chore in their own. The little robot has a tough time gaining momentum, but once the robot is moving forward at top speed, changing directions will take a few extra steps as a result. This only further exaggerates the feeling that B.U.D. is a child exploring the sandbox world, as his ship's AI overwatches his adventure. Climbing is also difficult to learn at first, since there is a different button corresponding with each of the robot's hands. Mastering the controls in Grow Home isn't impossible though, and moving through the environment becomes easy after spending about ten minutes with the game.

Grow Home also includes several hidden items scattered around the in-game world. There are 100 crystals to find hidden in the game, and these special items can be found anywhere from sticking to the sides of mountains to hidden in treasure alcoves that players must learn to uncover before entering. There is little reason to come back and play Grow Home after completing the game's main campaign for the first time, so it's good the game includes plenty of hidden secrets and Achievements to add some replay value for fans of the new title.

The world of Grow Home is stunning to say the least. The game's graphics look fantastic whether viewing the large island after ascending a mountain, walking down the beach with waves crashing on shore or looking down from the sky after climbing high up the Star Plant. The game also has some good themes and sound effects to help make the game more immersive. B.U.D. does have a tendency to glitch out thanks to the character's bizarre animations, though these minor hiccups don't take too much away from the experience.

Learning to play Grow Home is a journey in itself. The game's main character is a bit tough to control, and the introduction of catapults, flowers that allow the player to slowly float through the air and some other items mean players are always learning something new about the game. Grow Home doesn't have much replay value, but there are a lot of secrets and Achievements to give players some reason to revisit the game after the final credits roll. Grow Home is a highly enjoyable experience while it lasts, so players should look for Grow Home only on Steam today.

Grow Home is now available exclusively for PC via Steam and can be purchased for $7.99. For more information on the game, check out the official Grow Home website.

Game Features:
  • Single Player
  • Intuitive Climbing Controls
  • Hidden Collectibles
  • Steam Trading Card Support
  • Achievement Support

Game Information:
Developer: Reflections
Publisher: Ubisoft
Available exclusively for PC (reviewed)
Release Date: February 4, 2015

Score: 8 out of 10
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