We’re all whipping around the sun on this giant ball of dirt we call home and even the best of us can forget that our planet needs a whole lot of TLC to keep it in tip top shape. Now I’m not about to veer off on some gloomy environmental rant of course, that’s really not what we’re here for, is it? However, it is relevant to the game I’m going to rant about, or maybe the better word is rave? You’ll just have to stick around and find out now won’t you? 😉
I very recently finished playing Grow: Song of the Evertree from Prideful Sloth and 505 Games, and I gotta say even though it was set in a high fantasy type world it certainly wasn’t hard to see the allegorical similarities to our own world’s current state. Or at least that’s how it made me feel anyway. Some of the stories hit close to home whether intended or not, ya know? At any rate Grow really wrapped up their message in the cutest, most colorful package this side of the game-verse and that’s exactly the package we’re here to unpack today!
As those in-the-know know, I’m no stranger to the sim genre. I’ve said it many times before and gosh darn it I’m sure I’ll say it again many times more. They’re my comfort games after all so I love seeing what new things developers bring to the table. Grow is one of those games I’ve been watching closely since it’s early stages and while it was only just released this past November, I’m glad I finally got to sit down and spend some time with it in all its finished glory.
From my very first glimpse of the dev trailer over a year ago I knew in my heart of hearts that Grow was going to be something special. I mean look at all those gorgeous colors everywhere! Smooth, incredibly detailed graphics with the cutest looking characters, come on. Instant wishlist, no hesitation and I was impatiently awaiting release ever since.
Grow met all the sim/maintenance standards right out the gate with seeds to plant, crops to water, weeds to whack, trees to chop, rocks to smash, and all that good ole standby stuff. Where it shines, however, is really with two particular, and quite vital parts of gameplay. The first is that as you heal the world more areas will pop up for you to revitalize the once thriving villages filled with people and buildings. Once you repair each district’s dock new people will arrive everyday and want to live in your budding little towns. You have to make sure that they not only have a house to live in, but a job to do as well. Each person will have a set of stats that indicate their strengths and weaknesses for work (like service, food, wellness, production, etc) as well as a dream job. Ideally you want to place the new resident in their dream job but that’s not always possible, especially if they are late comers. However, as long as they have good stats for a different job they are usually OK just about anywhere. Plus late game will unlock the ability to reroll stats and dream jobs and the like. Once you meet the requirements for 100% town happiness more withering will retreat and a new district will open up.
The second unique part of Grow’s gameplay comes in the form of giant, sparkly, world seeds. See, absolutely everything in this world is composed of essences, and through the use of your companion Coppertop you can break down all the bits and bobs you collect throughout your journey into their basic essences. Cute, smelly, soft, playful, mushy, tasty, and a whole bunch more can be mixed together in different quantities and combinations to make a world seed. The Evertree, or what’s left of it, has branches capable of supporting whole worlds. Each one gets its own seed and depending on what essences you used to make the seed will determine what kind of world you end up with. This was probably one of my favorite parts. If you made a seed from say smelly, mushy, and sticky the world you’d end up with would be a goopy looking land with eyeballs in the rocks and plants. If you used cute, dreamy, and soft to make a seed the world would be just as adorable as you could imagine with fluffy trees and giant pink bear/lion creatures to befriend. You can even eventually adopt all the creatures you encounter on your weird and/or wonderful worlds! Amazing…
I can’t say I found fault in many things with this game overall. The only thing that I really found to be frustrating was that there were far too many instances where I got physically stuck within the game and had to reload from an earlier save to get out of my predicament. Most places allow you to warp out so if you were to find yourself trapped it was no biggie. However, in the Everkin world or inside caves you don’t have that option. More than once my character got immovably stuck in the environment in the Everkin world and I ended up having to reload my save file (losing some progress along the way) to get out.
Also, a few times when exploring caves/Song Fragment temples I found holes to jump into that I was then unable to get back out of despite attempting every jump trick in the book. So, I would have to reload my save file and just avoid those bits of map to carry on. While this didn’t happen frequently nor did it cause me to have to regain a ton of lost progress I will say it did deter me from exploring the areas I knew I couldn’t just warp out of should it happen again. And in a game where you are really encouraged to explore every nook and cranny to find secrets that’s definitely not a good thing.
Overall I found Grow: Song of the Evertree to be a very unique experience, as well as a super fun one that I can definitely see myself coming back to again sometime. The soft and colorful art style and the simple yet abundant gameplay made for the perfectly relaxing respite I had been searching for. Sure, I hit a few snags but really nothing that sullied my experience with much detriment. I wholly encourage my fellow sim lovers out there to add Grow to your library. I guarantee you’ll sprout a new favorite.