As all PlayStation plus members know, every month Sony releases a few free games for paying members. These games are usually more obscure indie titles that can be hit or miss. I am here to give you a short, to-the-point review of the headliner PS+ game of the month. This month, PS+ members were gifted with Grow Home, a procedurally generated adventure game.
Grow Home is a unique title that puts you into the shoes of the Botanical Utility Droid, or B.U.D. The controls are simple, leaving you in control of each hand used for grabbing things, an ability to jump, and, later on, fly using the jet pack. This simple control scheme is easy to grasp and has you feeling like a master of climbing as you send B.U.D. leaping out to grab an overhang dangling precariously hundreds of meters over the ground. The general game mechanics were gratifying as I slowly got better and better at traversing the largely vertical landscape. The importance of an excellent control scheme was important as most of the game play is centered around climbing large vertical structures. Putting one hand over the other is surprisingly fun as you climb these giant stalks growing out of the star plant.
However, this game largely boils down to just that, climbing. You spend a lot of time just climbing and jumping over things, and it can begin to become a bit repetitive, even in a game as short as this (it took me about 6 hours to finish). In this case, the brevity of the game actually lends to its enjoy ability as Grow Home is best in short spurts. All in all, for PS+ subscribers this game is a great way to relax and spend an hour or so just exploring. I would recommend anyone who likes exploration type games to give this a play through and find out just how fun climbing can be.
B.U.D. was put on this strange planet to harvest the seeds of the Star Plant. To do this, you need to grow the plant until it is close enough to the stars, at which point it flowers, leaving you with the seeds. You are given directions from M.O.M. and that is about it. The story does not delve deeper into what purpose gathering this information serves, where B.U.D. is from, or even what the Star Plant is useful for.
If you are looking for a story driven game, this is not it. The objectives are clear, but do not change. You are tasked with riding the branches of the Star Plant into energy rich planets to make the Star Plant grow. You will repeat this cycle to complete the game. This lack of variety in the game severely restricts the game’s potential as you lose motivation after long stretches of play time. A little more depth to the story would have gone a long way as the lack of story is a glaringly obvious omission.
If there was any reason to play Grow Home, it is the exploration. The game presents you with very simple controls, allowing you to use each hand individually to grab things. This gives players an amazing experience of climbing that I have never experienced before in game. There is nothing more rewarding than playing a game that allows you to pass or fail on your own merits, and Grow Home puts the control in your hands. This game is centered around exploring and this is where the game shines. Searching the environment for crystals, which help upgrade B.U.D.’s abilities, is truly fun as there are crystals hidden in hard-to-get nooks. B.U.D. can also jump, jetpack, and glide using flowers. These are critical in making traversing the expansive world easier and offer a needed amount of control during free fall with B.U.D. The gameplay is where this game shines; exploring the bright colorful world is a relaxing experience as you have B.U.D. climb up mountains and hang from ceilings, all to acquire hard-to-reach crystals.
Grow Home is a fun game to pick up and play in short bursts. The lack of a compelling story makes the game feel incomplete, but a well designed control scheme makes exploration feel rewarding and fun. Grow Home could have definitely benefitted from some TLC as more variety in objectives and a more unique and interesting story could have made this game unforgettable. All in all, as a free game, this is something any fan of exploration games should experience as you have never explored a world quite like this.