I played Grow Home when it first came out on PS4 and it did well enough to warrant a sequel: Grow Up. The first game featured a quirky little robot known as B.U.D (Botanical Utility Droid) who had lost M.O.M, which is basically his ships overseeing computer. The game was about using the environment and world around you to reach different areas and get back to his ship. This time in Grow Up, you still play as BUD and you’re still as curious and as clumsy as ever.
BUD and his companion POD this time set out to retrieve all parts of the MOM ship around the beautiful planet. The first thing you will notice is that the game has a simple but effective art style, that’s very bold and colourful. Grow Home gave us a good experience but this time around the game feels more polished and you have other abilities and mechanics to play with.
Throughout the world there are various pods that have different abilities which make traversing the world a little bit easier and more enjoyable. You get to use things like your handy jetpack and you can move quickly in a ball form. You can also scan plants around the world that give you different movement options, like Star plants that reach high into the sky. If you hold onto a stalk and move in the direction you want to go, you can reach some interesting locations. You can get fairly high above the planet and this time you can use POD to show you a bird’s eye view of the world and even set waypoints.
Like I said, this time you get even more abilities but BUD’s movements still feel unpredictable at times but that’s all part of the games charm. You grab onto objects using R1/L1 or R2/L2 and you climb by using them alternately. The jetpack is very handy for travelling over large distances but you need to be aware of your momentum when it comes to landing.
The best part of the game is trying to get higher and higher above the planet, as you can see the sprawling landscape below you. The game has a great sense of freedom, as you can explore freely and choose which route you want to take. The different plants and abilities can be combined in interesting ways to reach new areas and it encourages exploration. Later on in the game you do start to feel more in control of BUD and movement becomes second nature. The upgrades and abilities are slowly introduced and keep things interesting and you would be surprised how much of a difference they make. Much of the game feels like the original, but that’s a good thing, and it also manages to add enough to make you want to play as BUD all over again. It’s also important to know that you don’t have to of played the first game to jump into this one.
The world around you is key to progress and you have to learn what objects and plants do what, whether it’s reaching great heights or bouncing off mushrooms. The scan ability allows you to clone a certain plant a drop it anywhere you like. So for example you could clone a mushroom that allows you to bounce and drop it somewhere else in that area. I did have a couple of issues with the game, firstly the framerate does stutter but only very occasionally and considering the world is fairly large and ever-changing it’s not surprising. Also the game is fairly short but for me I like a compact experience and the game also has plenty of challenges to complete. There are 40 challenges in total which gives you more reasons to explore and get the most out of the game.
The presentation of the game is great, although very similar to the first. The world a bold and full of colour and I genuinely enjoyed finding out what was around the corner or in fact high above me in the sky. BUD is as charming as ever and he has a tonne of personality despite not speaking a word of English. The sound design is also good and suits the tone of the game.
Overall, Grow Up is a great game which has taken what made the first game so enjoyable and has added some fun new abilities and mechanics to make exploration even more enjoyable. The game is short but the unique world and use of environmental interaction kept me wanting to explore. I would have liked to have seen a bit more depth to the story but saying that the game is all about that child like sense of discovery and curiosity. I would recommend this game if you enjoyed the first or you like games that have exploration or environmental puzzle solving.
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