Grow Home is Ubisoft’s latest experimental game. Unlike Child of Light and Valiant Hearts, Grow Home is less about the story and more about the game’s mechanics themselves.
You control BUD, a bouncy robot on a mission to save his home planet by harvesting star seeds from an alien plant. You are sent to a colourful planet with multiple floating islands to grow said plant to maturity. As the giant plant reaches ridiculous heights, you’ll have to use all your abilities to reach your goal without falling to your demise.
The mechanics are simple: climb the plant to reach a bud, grow the bud and try to direct it to one of the islands containing green goo. Once you’ve manage to ride the phallic branch into the reservoir, the main stalk will grow. Rinse and repeat until the plant reaches the stratosphere and blooms to reveal its star seeds. You’ll also need to explore your surroundings to find crystals to recharge BUD’s internal power. As you collect crystals, you’ll unlock useful upgrades for your abilities. To find the crystals, just listen for the chime; it’ll get louder the closer you get.
Grow Home is not so much about strategy or puzzle solving, it’s more about reflexes and reaction. The planet presents a low gravity field thus enabling BUD to move around freely and in a very bouncy manner. However, it makes him also hard to control; like trying to get a drunk to walk straight on a sheet of black ice. Hence why I fell off the plant a lot during my first hour of playing. I eventually got the hang of it and managed to get BUD to do what I needed him to. When I did fall, I develop the reflexes to recover quickly: use my jetpack to adjust my trajectory, pull out my flower ‘chute to slow down my fall and once back on solid ground, find my way back up the plant.
I enjoyed playing Grow Home, however, falling and trying to get back up the plant can be frustrating. Here are some of my suggestions to succeed in this game and avoid rage quitting:
Falling is no big deal if you know how to recover
Learn to control your fall: always have a flower parachute or a leaf glider – they are your safety net, upgrade and use your jetpack and once back on the ground, find the quickest way back up the plant, which brings me to my next point.
Grow Home’s core mechanics are centered around climbing, however it’s controls are annoyingly repetitive and it’s actually the slowest way to get around. Unlock all teleporters. They have a flashy red light and emit a specific sound when you’re close to them. Teleporters will let you travel quickly between the tiers. Jumping is also much faster than climbing: use the bouncy leaves, geyser plants and mushrooms. I’ve even used star shoots as a mode of transportation.
Explore the world and hunt for crystals
When reaching a new tier, look for crystals. You don’t have to find all of them, just enough to upgrade your abilities. Once you’ve reached the stratosphere, you’ll be happy you did as the enhanced jump and full power jetpack will let you quickly move about the plant without falling.
Last but not least, never lose sight of where you are and where you are going
It’s easy to lose sight of your destination when climbing and jumping about. Stop once in a while to make sure you’re still going in the right direction. The star shoots also tend to grow wildly and are hard to control. Use your camera to keep the reservoir island always in sight so you may direct the branch accordingly. After a few tries, you’ll get the hang of it.
Grow Home is colourful, light hearted and fun. It’ll keep you entertained for about 10 hours, more if you decide to complete the bonus end game objective. And at the modest price of $10 CAD, you don’t have to wait for a Steam Sale to get it.