Grow Home’s original release on PS4 was a lovely little surprise, wasn’t it? Watching B.U.D wally around like a pissed old fart trying to climb around in the park brought me more than a few laughs, so what’s up with the sequel, Grow Up?
The story goes that M.O.M – B.U.D’s ship and motherly figure – has crash landed and she’s been split into many parts that are scattered among the world. It’s up to B.U.D to put M.O.M back together again. To be honest, it’s a pretty naff story, and I think there’s something in there about connections with loved ones, blah, blah, blah, but it’s not for me. The real fun with Grow Up is in the gameplay and watching our android hero face plant into all manner of things.
It’d be easy for Ubisoft to just say “yo, ladies and gents, just do more of the same, sil vous plait” as it’s a pretty simple concept and it worked quite well the first time around. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to have been the approach with Grow Up; there’s some meaningful changes to the way the game plays, and it’s cracking.
Firstly, B.U.D still prances around like he’s been popping pills with wine all night, and it does still take a bit of getting used to. Once you’ve finally managed to second guess his every move, you’ll find that you’re able to navigate the world with, er, relative ease. It’s still difficult to time a jump perfectly with a run, but it’s all part of the fun, or at least it is when it doesn’t send you spiraling down past everything you’ve spent an hour climbing… Speaking of climbing… It’s still the basic hold R2 or L2, but it works well enough. Actually, I did think that maybe the climbing may have been refined a little for the follow-up, but alas, it wasn’t to be.
B.U.D has a few new tricks in his robotic pockets this time. He can still climb, jump, run, and spin like a spaz, but he can also deploy a glider. Pretty cool, right? ‘Course it bloody is. Gliders are always cool. It’s really handy, too, especially when you misjudge a leap of faith and need a quick save. The thing is a bloody life-saver and my DualShock 4 controller owes it its life.
The basics are still the same, though, so don’t expect any revolutionary ground-breaking stuff. You’re still basically just getting as high as you can (not the Amsterdam way, mind) but there are a few things to break the monotony of climbing here, climbing there, falling here, falling there. As is the standard with almost every Ubisoft game these days, there are collectibles. Yay! Not yay. I don’t care for collectathons and I care even less when they’re only included to boost the play time. Without running around collecting all the bits and bobs, Grow Up took me around six hours to finish, though I imagine if you were a trophy fiend and you embarked on the quest to collect everything, you could easily double, if not triple that number.
Personally, I think around six hours is a decent amount of time with Grow Up. Any more and you seriously run the risk of just getting sick of a spazzy little robot plonking around. To be honest, I couldn’t really stomach the game for more than 30 minutes at a time without starting to get a little irate with it, so perhaps this one is best played in short bursts over a week or two. It’s not that it’s inherently bad, it’s just very samey. Once you’ve climbed your way from the ground to your first new area, it’s pretty much a case of rinse-and-repeat if you don’t bother with the collectibles.
The graphics are still minimalistic, colourful, and bright, and they work well. Not every game needs to have sub-surface scattering, god-rays, and all that other fancy jazz. Grow Up looks great in motion, though I must say that I actually preferred to play it on the smaller screen of the PS Vita via Remote Play. I don’t know why, I just did, and as I’m struggling to put enough words into this review, I’m gonna mention it. Sue me.
One little niggle I did have with the presentation was that the frame-rate wasn’t as smooth as you’d expect from such a graphically simple game. It’s only a small issue, but it’s worth noting. For the majority of the time the game ran butter-smooth, but trying to control the huge stems as you soar upwards does cause it to stutter a little, and it’s something you can actually hear, too. Yes, you can hear the game stutter thanks to the music having a wobble when the frame-rate jutters, but again, it’s not the end of the world. For the most part, the audio work in Grow Up is really, really well done. It’s very mellow – as one would expect – and it’s nice to just kick back, chill out, marvel at the vast world and beyond that is yours for the exploring, and listen in on some chilled tunes. It’s not my cup of tea, generally speaking, but it served a purpose.
When all is said and done, and B.U.D is finally sitting still rather than flaying around, Grow Up is a charmer of a game. It’s fun, though for me in limited doses. There’s more to do, more to see, and more to play. For the price of entry, Grow Up is surprisingly robust in giving you your money’s worth. It’s fun, it’s friendly, and I certainly recommend it to those who enjoyed the B.U.D’s first outing.
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