Our favourite Botanical Utility Droid, aka Bud, is back for another colourful, bouncy and vertiginous adventure in Grow Up. There’s a new planet to explore, Star Plants to grow and new crystals to find.
Mom? Mom! Mooooooooooom!
If you’ve played the previously released Grow Home, you are familiar with M.O.M., Bud’s mothership. If you didn’t play said game, here’s the tl;dr. She drops Bud on a planet where he must grow one giant Star Plant to replenish the atmosphere and harvest the plant’s Star Seeds. Throughout this whole mission, M.O.M. serves as a guide for Bud, and by extension us as players, so we may reach our objective: grow the plant until it reaches M.O.M. who’s orbiting said planet. You literally Grow Home.
In Grow Up, however, M.O.M. crash lands on a new planet and is blown into pieces. Gone is M.O.M.’s nurturing guidance. It’s up to you and a satellite named P.O.D. to find the pieces and put your mother ship back together. This time, you have to grow many Star Plants to reach pieces but also rely on your abilities to reach others. You Grow Up, in more ways than one.
Only Way To Go Is Up!
Grow Up and Grow Home are platformer adventure games that are in a league of their own, offering simple yet engaging gameplay. You must use a combination of climbing, jumping and gliding to reach high platforms that are hiding crystals, new abilities and of course, pieces of M.O.M.
Previously, in Grow Home, you had a simple jetpack ability, the power to store certain plants that you could use as a glider or parachute, and had to rely on the surrounding fauna to reach your goal. Grow Up expanded on that by providing these as upgradeable abilities: the classic jetpack to give you a short distance boost, a glider to cover longer distances, an air brake to slow down your fall and a ball form to dive faster and do a spin attack. Honestly, I have no idea what the ball form truly is for, it’s definitely the least useful of the lot and I don’t recall ever using it.
The flora system was also revised. You scan a plant once and it is permanently registered, enabling you to pull out seeds from your pack and plant them as needed. Different plants serve different purposes: some are geysers that will propel you to great heights, others are bouncy to help you jump from plant to plant, others grow tall and provide a climbable surface, and some will just toss you around. Honestly, this is another feature that I found lacked purpose. Aside from adding the odd geyser plant here and there to help me complete Pod Challenges, I barely used this flora system. I don’t understand either the need to have multiple plants that do the same thing, other than a skin that matches the biome you find them in.
In my playthrough, I mostly relied on the jetpack, glider and air brake. Everything else was just extra.
What a View!
Grow Up is set on a colourful planet peppered with critters, plants, platforms and majestic waterfalls. Don’t let the low polygon style fool you, this game’s art style will convince you that less is indeed more. Through a minimalistic visual style, Reflections Studio created a rich environment crawling with life and a diverse flora. If each biome looks different, they will feel the same: platforms, waterfalls, bouncy plants, tall plants, geyser plants, crystals, etc etc. All that to say that the gameplay is quite uniform from start to finish. Minimalist art style aside, I wish they hadn’t made the clouds 100% opaque, nothing throws you off your game thousands of meters in the air like a sudden complete loss of vision.
A new feature in Grow Up are the Pod Challenges: simple parkour races you must complete under the pretext of surveying the planet for your satellite friend P.O.D. They are completely optional and unlock fun litte suits for Bud that give you small bonuses.
I personally think they are a great addition and a way to break the game’s otherwise very repetitive gameplay. They are also aptly named as they can be quite challenging, especially if you aren’t used to the game’s procedural animations and general weird physics engine. My tip for you is to hunt crystals and upgrade your core abilities: a maxed out jetpack and a souped up glider will help you reach the finish line in time.
Reach For The Stars
Grow Up, as simple as it is, is well written, humorous, colourful, kid friendly and offers a straightforward yet engaging gameplay. It will keep you entertained for a good 10-20 hours, well worth beyond it’s 10$ CAD price point.
DISCLAIMER: Grow Up review copy provided by Ubisoft Canada. The opinions expressed in the article above have not be affected by, dictated or edited in any way by the provider. For more information please see Girls on Games’ Code of Journalistic Ethics.