It’s been years since I sat down and gave Ubisoft’s Grow Home a go, and looking back, I remember being rather fond of BUD and his weird adventures in creating a star fruit for his mothership, MOM.With those fond memories in mind, this past weekend I decided to sit down with the sequel to that surprise hit, Grow Up, and it has to be said, the game is just as fascinating and charming as it was the first time round. Let’s explore why.
Grow Up starts out with BUD riding within MOM, playing Tic-Tac-Toe indefinitely whilst exploring the cosmos. Unfortunately, with MOM concentrating on Tic-tac-toe too much, she accidentally hits into an asteroid, causing her to explode across a planet leaving BUD falling through it’s atmosphere. Upon landing, you’re straight back to where you were in the first game – controlling the weird physics of BUD and navigating an alien world.
Eventually, you’ll happen across POD, a new drone character that is able to survey the land for you whenever you press the touchpad on the PS4 controller. Using his surveying ability you’re able to hunt down MOM’s parts, as well as all the new challenges, flora and crystals across this new land. In addition to that, you also have 4 new Starplants to grow!
So, with POD in your arsenal of tools, you’re now able to set out and go about playing the game however you like. The completely open world is yours for the taking, with the same climbing mechanics also coming over from the first game completely in-tact. I proceeded to spend the first hour of playing Grow Up hunting down abilities for BUD (like the parachute, glider and even jetpack), and then proceeded to go to whatever tickled my fancy.
At first I simply grew star plants and ensured they got as big as possible, controlling their vines to hit into floating lumps of rock to get them ever stronger, but this wouldn’t last, with myself constantly getting side-tracked with so many challenges and crystals to collect throughout the world.
You see, with Grow Up, bigger definitely equals better, and where as the first game felt more of a primer to the BUD universe, you now have an entire world to explore, with different climates, land masses, and even more things to see and do than ever before. Just like Mario Odyssey (my review is coming for that, I promise!) you constantly have things to do, with even the climbing from one point to another being a puzzle and challenge in and of itself. There would be many instances where I would see a crystal sticking out of a rock a mile away, and consider how I can make my way to it using all the unique flora around, as well as using what limited resources BUD has available to him.
The simplicity of the games design, to just have a open world with an end goal of accumulating all of MOM’s piece, can’t be understated. It means you can make your own fun, whether it be pushing bugs off mountains to their death (sorry poor creatures), or exploring each and every secret cave to find those luscious crystals, everything is pretty damn fun. Some may be annoyed at the lack of proper storyline/ no linearity, but I for one loved it.
Most of the ideas here are recycled from the first game, from the collecting of plants and species, to the using crystals to level up your currently activated abilities, but overall the recycling doesn’t hurt the sequel, due to all the new things to collect and see. The power-ups too are given faster than before, meaning I was able to glide around the world fairly fast, resolved one of my biggest gripes with the first game, the constant climbing.
If there’s one criticism to throw at Grow Up it’s the performance. Whilst i was playing Grow Up on the PS4 Pro i would constantly get framerate pauses whenever the game tried to save, and had many instances of the game slowing down to a crawl at times. Weird considering how graphically simple the game is.
Also, graphically the game is still not much to look at. I mean, it’s to be expected when this is from a small off-shoot team within Ubisoft, but it’s not exactly a fantastic looker, especially within screenshots.
Grow Up was the sequel many thanks hoped it would be. More of the same, but plenty more of it, allowing fans to do more of the things they liked, and less of the things they didn’t like (I’m looking at you, climbing). I certainly enjoyed my 5-6 hours in the game, and will be going back to it to collect all there is to find, including finishing each and every challenge, and getting all the remaining crystals I missed (40 damnit!). If you want a lovely lazy Sunday afternoon exploring a freeing and charming world, you most certainly can’t go wrong with Grow Up.