In another take at the indie market, Ubisoft comes back with a charming small title that was never meant to be more than a tech demo, but possessed enough material to warrant a full release.
While Ubisoft’s AAA release struggled in the past year, their indie-esque titles Child of Light and Valiant Hearts helped keep the publisher relevant. It is no surprise, then, that Grow Home is yet another title to add to the list, and from the looks of it, it may be better if Ubisoft gave their franchises a break while they focus on the existing talent of their indie studios.
The studio behind Grow Home, Ubisoft Reflections, was also co-developing The Crew. It is my assumption that during developing down times when the team needed a creative break from what they were doing, the idea for this game came along, and why shouldn’t it? Quite a few good games were birthed via similar processes.
For all I know Grow Home may have been a technical exercise that the studio pushed forward to justify their presence–studios have shuttered for lesser reasons.
You take control of a wonky robot called BUD (Botanical Unit Display) on a mission to return to his home planet. The purpose of the game is to continually grow a plant for 2,000 meters by extending its branches and scaling them to newer heights.
Everything about this game is tongue-in-cheek cheesy: Your name is Bud, you have to plant a tree, your commanding officer is called Mum, you are a machine that needs to depend on organic life…you get the drift. That’s not saying it’s not whimsically pleasing, but at points I found myself wishing I was a decade or two younger so that I may revel in its intended charm more.
What ruined this otherwise short experience were the abysmal controls. Controlling Bud feels like solving complex equations drunk, and when the smallest mistake sends you diving to the bottom of the tree you just spent five minutes climbing, you’ll turn to a salty pirate and quit the game as well. Rather than apply a simple mechanic, the game has you alternate button presses to do most anything and as charming as this puppeteering effect tries to be, its rage inducing more than it is relaxing, which is what a casual game like this should be.
At $8, I may find it difficult to truly recommend it. With no more than a couple of hours of gameplay and little to no replay value, Grow Home should have been in the range of $3 at most for me to deem it worthwhile.