Grow Home: Flawed but Beautiful
Grow Home is a beautiful looking game. You are a little, stumbly robot called B.U.D. (Botanical Utility Droid) who is plopped onto this little planet in order to collect... stuff?
The wonderful thing about Grow Home is how the objective feels like a supplement to the game's exploration options. You take BUD up to the peeks of mountains, pick up crystals, and then you see something in the distance that piques your interest. It's up to you to figure out how to get there and when you do, you discover something like the Star Plant, this giant, beanstalk-looking plant.
Regardless of whether or not you want to climb, it feels so good to climb in Grow Home that you simply must climb it.
Climbing is the bread and butter of Grow Home. You climb with BUD by controlling the gripability of his limbs with the triggers on the gamepad. Everytime you touch a ledge, pulling in that trigger to get BUD to hold on feels incredibly satisfying. Even if sometimes you forget which trigger you're using to hold on, and let go before you grab with the other hand.
Grow Home's Camera: Auto-Aligning Yourself to Death
Grow Home, however beautiful and intriguing it is, does have one major flaw: its camera control. The camera, with its constant need to auto-align, will kill you more often than forgetting which arm is holding on to the rock you're climbing. Countless times while riding a beanstalk to a destination, I found BUD falling to his demise after the camera moved on me unexpectedly. This happens all the time. Dealing with the camera in Grow Home is a constant struggle to maintain a flat, even surface in this 3D environment.
The major issue lies in the fact that the climbing in Grow Home works on a 2D plane. If the camera is not lined up with the section of thing you want to climb, BUD won't be able to grasp it, and you'll fall off. Same thing if the camera changes at a bad time.
You will often just watch as he sky dives to his rust-colored demise.
Look M.O.M., I'm falling. And it's beautiful.
This 2D plane climbing is odd because I was never quite sure which way this plane was facing. Whether it needs to be parallel, perpendicular, or otherwise to BUD remains a mystery. This camera-to-climbing mechanic is never quite explained in-game.
The camera also auto-focuses on important interactable objects. After riding the bean stalk bull, you turn around and start walking, and suddenly every leaf, rock, flower, and new bean stalk gets auto-focused as you walk by. Being as clumsy as BUD is, this is not good for his robot legs, as he has a tendency to fall down.
All is Not Lost! Grow Home is Still Very Good!
The rest of Grow Home is so charming, dripping with color, and reeks of whimsy that you will find yourself happy to overlook any flaw in the camera controls. This is what will keep you playing Grow Home.
Grow Home is a short game; I clocked in at two and a half hours. Most likely, to collect all of the hidden crystals that give BUD some power-ups, the play-time end up at around four hours. I didn't feel the need to do this as the power-ups while semi-useful, don't give anything incredibly advantageous. You can beat the game with without every buff, but the option is there for completionists. I had just over 60 of the 100 available crystals in the game and finished without any issues.
Grow Home is for people who like to climb and explore areas, collecting items, and riding plants like a cowboy.
Despite the camera and however many times it might kill you, this game is a wonderful "Monday afternoon, stuck in a snow storm" game. You'll love the look of the world. The climbing and platforming feel solid and satisfying. Depending on the type of game player you are, you may want to find every crystal, but you also don't have to. BUD doesn't mind. He just wants to grow the Star Plant to help out his M.O.M.