Sometimes, you'll come across something that looks so simple and cute that you just want to give it a try. Grow Home is one of those cases, as it's a colorful adventure centering around an adorable little red robot named BUD and the cartoonish world he's exploring.
Your main goal is to force sprouts to grow off the side of the plant, embedding them in glowing yellow islands in the sky. These islands store a lot of energy, which will be absorbed by the plant through the sprouts. Once collected, it will suddenly grow, and once it reaches 2,000 meters tall it will bloom and produce the seeds BUD is after.
Along the way, you'll spot other objects that BUD should grab. The most important of these are the bright blue crystals dotting the landscape. Yanking a crystal out of the ground allows BUD to absorb the power contained within it, and as various thresholds are reached, he gains new or improved abilities.
Other objects include flowers that BUD can use as a parachute, leaves that he can use to glide through the air, and tele-router stations that give him a fast travel network using wifi connections.
One of the unique features of this game is how the controls work. BUD's primary ability is that he can grab on to surfaces or objects using either hand, and in order to climb around, you'll need to have him grip with one hand while reaching out with the other. Thus, he'll scale mountains and plants much like a real mountain climber.
But, as cute as the game is, it quickly becomes apparent that the game isn't as perfect as the graphics make it seem. It takes a lot of horsepower to run this title, and I found it remarkably easy for BUD to let go of things I was telling him to hold. This often included the cliff he was in the middle of climbing, resulting in a lot of long falls and wasted time.
I wouldn't say that Grow Home is a bad game, but it might have been a little too ambitious for its goals. If your computer can handle it, then you'll probably enjoy this game.
In order to save its home planet, a Botanical Utility Droid (BUD for short) must explore an alien world and gather the seeds produced by a gigantic alien plant. While a mothership (appropriately named MOM) watches over the expedition from low orbit, BUD needs to survive and encourage the giant plant to grow quickly so the seeds can be harvested.
Three missions to accomplish
It's going to be a busy time for BUD as there are three missions for him to be working on during his stay on this alien world. The primary mission is to gather a single seed of the alien plant and bring it to M.O.M. for analysis. Once M.O.M. has analyzed it and confirmed its usefulness, you can go back to gather the remaining seeds.
Goofy sense of humor
The secondary mission is to use the tele-routers to scan and document a number of creatures and plants found throughout the world.
While BUD himself doesn't have much to say, M.O.M. can be a chatterbox, chiming in with a number of silly comments throughout the journey. Many of these remarks are references to various things in pop culture, such as a warning to ensure there aren't any flies on BUD when he teleports. The database entries created through scanning objects are also utter nonsense.
Steam achievements and trading cards
Like most other games on Steam these days, there's a set of Steam trading cards*
and plenty of achievements*
to earn. Most of these are going to require some careful planning to earn, as they often require you to do something out of the ordinary, such as teleport with a sheep-like creature called a meep.
The controls are somewhat iffy
BUD may be a simple droid, but he can explore the land in style. As you progress, you'll unlock*
a number of different paint jobs and costume options. These don't have an effect on gameplay, but a little cosmetic tweaking never hurt anybot.
Perhaps the biggest issue I had with this game was the difficulty I had with controlling BUD himself. More often than not, he'd stagger around like a drunk, being unable to walk in a straight line or come to a stop without serious effort. In many cases, I'd try to get him to grab something, and he wouldn't react. This tends to be the leading cause of falling off a floating island -- which usually meant spending several minutes trekking all the way back to where he started.
Sprouts are surprisingly hard to control
Sending a sprout towards a nearby island can be very difficult, as they tend to steer themselves in random directions. You can steer them while they are growing, but too much of a nudge results in them flying off somewhere else. Eventually you wind up with a network of vines that resembles a chaotic squiggle.
Frame rate issues
Grow Home requires a powerful computer, and even then you're might hit sudden drops in the frame rate. Thaddeus
was able to keep the FPS*
steady, but many people on the Steam forums weren't this lucky. This is by far the most common complaint about Grow Home; all I can suggest is not to even try playing it on a system without a dedicated graphics card.
BUD can be destroyed in various ways
The carnivorous plants can kill meeps
It's actually fairly easy to reduce BUD to a pile of parts. The usual methods involve falling too far, getting eaten by a carnivorous plant, staying underwater for too long or manually self-destructing. When BUD is destroyed, he'll respawn*
at the last tele-router he used a few moments later, no worse for wear. This is mostly an inconvenience, but considering how easily you can wind up being inconvenienced already, it can be frustrating.
The player is sometimes rewarded for being a jerk to local animals
Meeps are little sheeplike creatures found around the world. Like BUD, they can be killed if they wander into the mouth of a carnivorous plant. Once the plant chomps on them, they'll fall apart just like BUD does, though they don't respawn*
until you restart the game.
While the meeps aren't very bright and will wander into the jaws of one of the creature eating plants, the player can also have BUD drag a helpless meep into one of the plants -- and there's an achievement*
for managing to do that. Likewise, there are achievements*
for doing other prankish things to the locals. There's no gameplay benefit to do any of these; you're just being rewarded for being something of a jerk.