Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more it feeds, the more it roots.
Grow Home is a game that bloomed out of the primordial ether of fresh game ideas and really has rejuvenated the indie scene with its casual yet lovable self. We would never have thought this would’ve been as thought provoking and fun as it is, with the general concept of a little robot exploring an unknown world and going back home. This platformer really shines in its innovative approach of using the idea of Jack and the Bean Stalk and the procedural creation of multiple stalks to generate new interactive platforms. If you want a fresh platformer with some good design ingenuity, then look no further!
The controls in the game aren’t overly kind as the sensitivity of the character’s movement is a bit much. It is as though the momentum of the character’s movement continues in whatever direction you’re headed long after you have released the inputs. While it was likely intentional to create some artificial difficulty, delicate tight areas and general movement can feel a bit jarring to get used to at first.
You do get the hang of it after a while, though it can either enrich or infuriate your play experience to a small degree. Beyond the issue of character movement, the rest of the controls felt rather natural.
If you like Minecraft you will generally like the faceted look of Grow Home. It is a stylistic choice, but you can clearly see polygons in the character models and environments. The game also does a great job with the altitude of the stratosphere and the many layers on your ascension. Some altitudes even offer some visually stunning horizon shots worthy of just sitting and watching the clouds go by for great screenshot opportunities. The soundtrack was rather light, but it helped to compliment the overall casual nature of the game.
Grow Home takes you to an uncharted world where you play as the botanical utility droid or B.U.D. for short. Your mission is pretty self-explanatory as it is in the namesake. You will explore the planet’s indigenous plant life and grow the magical plant stalk back to your spaceship. Growing the stalk requires you to cleverly maneuver growth stalks into nutrient-rich floating islands. On occasion you will reach teleporters that act as save points for whenever you fall to your death, which is a high possibility with the current control scheme.
Aside from your mission, you can collect crystals to increase B.U.D’s abilities such as camera zooming or rocket propulsion. Rocket propulsion, in combination with other natural fauna, can help you traverse the stalks easier and can save you in some tight binds. Sunflower petals can slow your descent, leaves can help you glide and certain mushrooms act as jumping pads. The option is also there if you just want to have a little fun sky diving or skimming through rock ring formations for legitimate Steam achievements.
Exploration is also another part of the game as there are plenty of little nuggets and secrets in caves for either crystals or interaction with the indigenous lifeforms. Most creatures are harmless and can hilariously be sent through your teleporters or drowned in the surrounding ocean — just don’t let PETA hear of this animal abuse.
As Grow Home is a single-player sandbox experience, your time with the game is up to you. There is a good deal of Steam achievements to be collected as well as a new game-plus mode where you can essentially do “end-game content” with all your equipment and progress intact.
Grow Home is a lovable indie-type title that brings some creative ideas to the forefront of what makes a platformer fun and appealing. With extreme climbing and sky diving aspects, this game was made to give you an adrenaline rush. It is also nice to see the route that you’ve taken to get back to your spaceship is saved and, in essence, an interactive environment that you created.