Grow Home is a simple new sandbox game created by a small group at Ubisoft Reflections, an offshoot of Ubisoft best known for creating the Driver series. This new game seriously deviates from their previous releases and interestingly enough wasn’t originally planned for public release, rather just a small project for a few staff members. The game is therefore somewhat humble in design, leaning towards simplicity and sincerity rather than anything too overly complicated.
Developer: Ubisoft Reflections
Release Date: Out Now
As far as story goes there isn’t anything too substantial here. Our protagonist is a small robot named B.U.D. (Botanical Utility Droid) who has been tasked with restoring its home world by growing a “star plant” and harvesting its seeds. As this plant grows B.U.D. gains access to new places to explore, all the while collecting crystals and gaining new abilities. The simplicity of the story combined with the colourful visuals creates an overall childish feel which could come across as annoying in other games but is actually pulled off very well here, managing to create a very welcoming and quite endearing world. This childlike feeling is most clearly encapsulated in B.U.D., who waddles around almost like a toddler and is assisted along its journey by M.O.M., its ship’s computer.
Like with most other aspects of the game, the primary focus of the gameplay seems to be simplicity and clarity. The controls are straightforward, but very effective in their execution. One of the game’s strongest features is its climbing mechanic, in which the player controls each of B.U.D.’s hands individually and uses them to grab onto surfaces and climb manually. This does feel quite awkward at first but it quickly becomes fluid and works very well with the game’s open environment. The game is focused on exploration and, though there are some other creatures that roam around with you, there is no combat to speak of. Interaction is confined to the environment and the objects found therein rather than introducing any other characters. This approach is very effective as it allows focus to be placed entirely upon exploration without interruption. This relaxed style of play also gives the game an overall feeling of serenity, closely in keeping with the childlike tone that stems from its colourful design and simple plot.
The game’s visuals are actually one of its strongest points, complementing the simplicity of plot and gameplay very well while also managing to be quite striking in its own way. The colours are bright, yet not garishly so, and the graphics are very minimal. This simplicity of design means that the world that B.U.D. explores is not cluttered or confused; it has a clarity of structure which lends itself well to the game’s explorative intentions. There is a clear sense that nothing is wasted here. B.U.D. can interact with almost all that it is presented with, it can collect flowers that it can use to glide from great heights or it can bounce on leaves to reach higher areas. Despite this simplicity the world actually manages to stay quite interesting, as growing the star plant introduces new areas to explore and new objects that B.U.D. can use to further add to the gameplay. Overall while this game is nothing spectacular it has some interesting ideas and is very well put together. The simplicity of the gameplay can sometimes become tedious but the game isn’t really long enough for this to become a major issue. If you’re interested in something fast paced and exciting then this probably isn’t for you, but it is an interesting and surprisingly compelling game and is worth playing if you’re just looking for something nice to pass the time.