Grow Up Review:Price:
Ubisoft’s delightful climbing adventure Grow Home
was one of my favourite games of last year. I’d hoped the charmingly experimental platformer by Ubisoft Reflections might be granted a sequel, but I didn’t expect one to arrive quite so quickly. Yet just 18 months after the original, Grow Up has sprouted from the seed planted by its trailblazing predecessor. BUD’s second adventure is just as lovable and engrossing as his previous outing, providing the player with a much larger playground to climb and leap and fly around in, alongside a few extra toys that complement the more freeform style of play.
Grow Up begins with the galaxy’s most light-hearted catastrophe. As the relentlessly cheerful robot BUD travels through space inside his spaceship named MOM (best not to dwell upon that scenario too much) the ship’s navigation computer malfunctions and MOM crashes into the moon of a nearby planet, sending BUD and large chunks of the ship cascading down onto the planet’s surface. With no other way off the planet, it’s up to BUD to collect the scattered wreckage of the ship, before ascending to the Moon to piece MOM back together.
As I already mentioned, Grow Up expands upon the concepts introduced in Grow Home considerably. Grow Home was all about movement in a single direction - upwards, as players guided BUD’s ascent of the massive, twisting Star Plant. There were a few distractions along the way, but for the most part Grow Home was a resolutely single-minded game. Grow Up, on the other hand, has players exploring an entire planet through a broader open world structure. There’s still plenty of dizzyingly high things to climb, including multiple Star Plants and dozens of floating islands. But progression here involves moving down and around as well as up.
If you’re concerned this might result in a watering down of Grow Home’s delectably simple concept, fear not. Grow Up’s ultimate objective still hangs high amongst the stars, it’s simply that the route to get there is more of a zigzag than a straight line. It also brings some of Grow Home’s background elements to the fore. One of my favourite things about Grow Home was, as you ascended, the curvature of the planet became visible below you, a beautiful way of representing your gradual grasping towards the heavens. Grow Up again presents us with a visibly spherical planet, but now its curves can be explored in their entirety.
Grow Up’s planet is a garden world build from vibrant voxels, and has environments that range from mountainous ice-caps to cactus-strewn deserts and fluorescent mushroom forests. The sky is pocked by floating islands and orbiting asteroids, while the twisting bulk of the Star Plants spear above the horizon, reaching into space like the gnarled hands of an ancient giant. For such a playful, laid-back game, Grow Up has alien vistas that give No Man’s Sky a run for its money.