Daily Egyptian

Don’t grow up—’Grow Home’

By Austin Miller, @AMiller_DE

Exploration is the key to discovery.

When your home planet has exhausted all resources, it is time to take to the stars and hope there is a planet suitable for life. Survival of a species is a serious topic—one featured in many films.

Last year’s “Interstellar” saw Matthew McConaughey rocket light years away to find a new home for earthlings. The film is such an emotional ride, if you make it through the movie without crying, you must be some kind of heartless robot.

Advertisement

In contrast to “Interstellar,” “Grow Home” tackles the same concept, including making a heartless robot the main character.

B.U.D. is a botanical utility droid tasked with gathering crystals from a foreign plant to save his own. Even though the game takes a light-hearted approach to extinction, the world is full of charm.

{{tncms-asset app=”editorial” id=”28f6f218-b1ac-11e4-acd4-e74437c37c15″}}

The environment of “Grow Home” is full of bright colors and an interesting flat, polygonal aesthetic. The game seems like a long-lost Pixar movie that never happened. Even though rocks and plants have a flat, jagged exterior, the color scheme creates a cool contrast reminiscent of being a kid again. You cannot help but feel like a little kid again; seeing the world as a bright jewel full of happiness, before everyone becomes jaded adults.

I just want to go dig through my old toy box and play with Legos and Hot Wheels.

A giant plant sticks up through the center of the world, with little islands floating around it. Players have to recreate the classic bedtime story and take the role of Jack climbing up the beanstalk. Climbing is the main source of exploration, as B.U.D.’s mechanical arms stick to all surfaces with clicks of the controller triggers. Ascending is tricky at first, but quickly mastered.

Small branches stick out of the plant, which B.U.D can grow to serve as a magic carpet to ride higher.

There is no evil giant sitting at the top of the plant, only the nightmares of acrophobic people. It is a long way down, so if heights scare you, do not let go of the edge.

Players can also fly around with a leaf and unlock a jetpack, but just walking around is the best way to travel.

B.U.D.’s movements are procedurally animated, meaning his arm and leg movements are random when moved. This can be a little frustrating at first because the little red robot trips and stumbles around like he has been celebrating Polar Bear. He gets his limbs tangled up often, but you cannot help from just laughing at the little guy. Walking around with B.U.D. is similar to games like “Octodad” and “QWOP,” but not as much of a chore.

“Grow Home” successfully creates an interesting world with fun and simple gameplay. However, a little bit of storyline could have made the game an early standout for 2015.

M.O.M., the helpful navigation program guiding the hero, speaks frequently, but only offers tips about the planet. As her name appears, she serves as a mom to B.U.D., but would have been better utilized by telling stories about or referencing the dire straits of their home world. Subtle bits of narrative can make B.U.D. an even more likable character and add a little importance to his harvesting.

It does not have to be as emotional or sad as “Interstellar,” but could have been a little more personable.

“Portal” delivered fun puzzles with a story only delivered via intercom messages and “Grow Home” came up just a bit short of joining that elite company.

The game is also quite short, being able to be completed in just a couple of hours. Additional exploration can pack on more playtime, but there is no aspect of replay-ability.

Those gripes are only a small complaint for a both adorable and arduous game.

“Grow Home” is a great way to escape from the real world for a few hours. Just plug in some headphones and forget about all of the troubles of life. Forget about bills piling up, car problems and student loans, just take a second and go to space for a bit. Be a kid again and hunt for crystals with your M.O.M.

3.5 stars out of 5

Advertisement

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The student news site of Southern Illinois University