Grow Home is yet another small indie-esque release from Ubisoft, following closely in the footsteps of Child of Light and Valiant Hearts. It combines unique gameplay, a stunning graphical style, and a cute story about robots and plants in an attempt to recreate the sensation of rock-climbing. But does this plucky platformer climb to the top of the vine, or should you leaf it alone?
The title's story, while slight, is sweet and endearing. You play as BUD, a robot sent to a deserted planet in order to grow a Star Plant and harvest its seeds. To do this, you'll have to climb your way up the plant itself, while directing its branches to help it gain enough energy to continue growing.
Along the way, you'll constantly receive messages from your ship – the adorably named M.O.M – whose gentle encouragement and guidance give the game a tender atmosphere. You'll also encounter all manner of flora and fauna, which you can kindly ask M.O.M to scan and research for you.
The main thrust of the gameplay, then, is your ability to climb, and it's therefore fortuitous that the game's single biggest achievement also happens to be its ability to successfully simulate a truly stymieing sense of altitude. Indeed, this writer – who has a potent fear of heights - had to take several strategic breaks in order to not collapse into puddle of vertigo-induced vomit.
This is only compounded by the platformer's unique controls, which assigns the two shoulder buttons to BUD's left and right hands. In this way, the climbing doesn't feel scripted and contrived as it does in so many other games, but instead feels tangible and terrifying.
As you progress and collect more of the many gems scattered throughout the one large level, BUD will upgrade, unlocking jet-packs and various methods of floating and manipulating the camera. The winding and twisting stems of the Star Plant are also decked out with springy leaves which allow our hero to bounce around, and quickly traverse its mountainous stem.
Indeed, these controls are one of the platformer's most impressive feats, and also one of its major flaws. On the one hand, they act as a remarkably clever means of characterising BUD, painting him as a clumsy yet loveable machine who is trying his absolute best. What's more, they make the sense of height more palpable, and are often an absolute delight to navigate.
However, they also take an unacceptably long time to get used to, and even after you've acclimatised, can still be fiddly at times. And, considering the sometimes dire consequences when you do fall off the plant – namely having to climb all the way back up again – these input-based woes can be particularly frustrating.
The other complaint which could potentially be levelled at the title is its length. Indeed, you'll probably be able to clear through the main campaign in an hour or two. There are several collectables to be found once you've completed the main quest, but this is still a comparatively short game. In many ways, though, that's also a good thing; it doesn't overstay its welcome, it definitely never feels like it repeats itself, and this ultimately makes for a densely packed piece of gaming.
Furthermore, simply existing in the world that Ubisoft Reflections has designed is utterly joyous thanks to the title's brilliant presentation. By using a rudimentary polygon based art style, the developer has removed all ambiguity from the gameplay, while also creating a colourful and enticing world to explore. The Star Plant itself acts as a massive and gorgeous centrepiece to this ecosystem; its beautiful and byzantine branches reminding you where you've been and what you've done. Similarly, the music - while relatively simple and unchanging – manages to both subtly solidify the title's futuristic setting, while also exacerbating the gameplay's sense of height.
Grow Home is a gorgeous title which acts as yet another example that not all games need to be hours upon hours long. Its unique climbing mechanics make for a tense and often terrifying time, while its endearing story grounds the entire experience. There are some niggling control issues, but the stunning presentation and subtle soundtrack round things out, ultimately making for a satisfying and adorable game.
I'll add it to my library but it could be a while before I get round to it with Until Dawn and Metal Gear keeping me busy. Does look interesting though
I thought it was a great game, but the controls are so bad, so bad that I couldn't play it any longer, it's a shame I was really excited for this game this month, well I guess I'll have to wait for another gem like Valiant Hearts and Child of Light from Ubisoft.
I was the least interested in this game of the 3 but it won. Seems like an ok review but would have preferred Armello & based on its review I think I still will.
Really fun game. I can understand if people can't acclimate to the controls but they give a great sense of inertia. from this point of view it's almost similar to old games like Thrust or Exile which are both love it/hate it propositions.
@vegeta11 easy solution to your problems. Buy the game you want. Then, the rest is gravy.
This game is probably the best thing that Ubisoft have made in a while
@hi_drnick oh I agree and at some point I will. But I bought three games last week and only have so much money to go around with a wedding coming up.
I've been wanting to play this all weekend. I just need my 5 and 7 year olds to stop watching the living room tv.
Really enjoying playing Grow Home, even though the controls are a little cumbersome. Feels like controlling a drunk balloon at times.
But I love the aesthetic and the premise. It's free people, give it a shot
@k_andersen did you ever have problems with the camera having BUD inside the plant?
Also does this game have a new game+ mode?
I made it to the top got a seed and now the rest disappeared.
The bull is also gone from the cave & other stuff missing.
I hate to find all the silver things twice.
I played for like 2 mins and stopped. I wish Zombie Vikings won instead.
Started playing and got curiously addicted. Just the right length. It is annoying when you fall off without a plant or leaf but otherwise pleasantly surprised!
I like this a lot. A feel-good-game that is relaxing, fun and the graphics reminds me a bit of Zelda windwaker.
@jbrewer99 lol , now that's my problem too the only other TV I have is a CRT and PS4 games don't look very PS4 on an old CRT
5 out of 10 at best for me. A game that only lasts a couple hours should not require those two hours to be spent trying to master clumsy controls, imo. Child of light is a far superior ubi indy experience.
@vegeta11 that's fair enough. Weddings are not cheap. Good luck!
@Malouff I never had that problem personally, no. But I've read of a few other people encountering it. As for the new game+, the answer is complicated. There's certainly stuff to do once you beat the main quest, but it's not a new game+ as such.
Thanks for reading
Honestly it just seems like a really crappy 3d platformer with octodad controls.
You know what was an awesome short game from ubisoft that people got free with psn+? Valiant hearts.
Yep I was skeptical about the game at first. It turned out very fun/and addictive. I completed the game in its entirety in 1.5 days(all trophies). The controls of the robot are like a drunk person which didn't bother me.
Ps+ free game of the month, and a decent one, no reason to complain here at all imo
I tried it out but it seemed like a substandard performer to me. Hopefully one day I will try it again and will like it. I would give it 6/10.
Downloaded this off of PS+, couldnt stand it for more than 30 minutes. The character moves like an infant and the platforming was too frustrating to enjoy. L1, R1, L1, R1, L1, R1 all day looooooong.
All I remember about the soundtrack is constant wind chimes, reminded me of the chimes played when booting up a PSOne
This isn't that bad of a game, but I will agree with the controls and camera...they are horrible, but it's still a fun little platform title. The Last Tinker was a better platform title on the PS4 shop, but this title is fun...and it's free for Plus users, so not that bad.
I think the controls are fine, it's meant to be a bit clunky because he's a disjointed robot. What isn't so forgiving is the somewhat variable framerate and screen tearing at times that really annoyed me.
Not played it yet,but I see alot of people saying controls are bad. I know alot of people forget ps4 has button remapping now, would this not help?
I'm glad to see so many comments backing up my thoughts: this is an absolutly horrible game. It looks like crap, controls worse, and even sounds awful. I deleted it very, very, very fast.
@Hullksmashhh It has nothing to do with the controls, it's the actual physics of the robot you control, it feels like you're trying to control a drunk person as soon as you try to change directions.
Really enjoyed it though like others have said the robots lagging controls take some getting used to. Gives him character though...
Nah, this is a dreadful game, terrible controls, very simple looking and worse yet for the very simple cell shaded graphics the performance is terrible, its screen tearing all over, made me feel ill. Deleted very quickly myself - one of the worse PS+ titles in a while and worse , many of us voted for this. Terrible all round IMO
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