Death of the Critic

Grow Up - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


It is refreshing to sit back and play something a little more relaxing every now and then. Coming off of several months of playing some fantastic, if relatively day and self-serious titles, an experience like
Grow Up can serve as a nice palate cleanser. A follow-up to the 2015 title Grow Home, it tasks you with navigating an alien world as the robot B.U.D, attempting to reassemble your scattered ship at the behest of M.O.M, the AI in charge, so that your journey across the galaxy can continue unabated.

B.U.D can run, jump, and climb (however awkwardly) through the gorgeously designed planet that has become your accidental sandbox. The main method of interaction with the world is with your two hands, as you can grab anything within arms reach, actuated by your triggers on the controllers. You can use this to climb by alternating which hand to grab with, or carry objects across the environment. It’s clumsy in a sometimes frustrating way, with a definite mastery curve to learning the movement. Once you start to get the hang of it, you’ll find yourself climbing thousands of meters into the sky easily, if slowly.


On this planet there are pieces of the ship scattered though the fantastic landscape, along with crystals, abilities, and challenges to find. The more of these you complete, the more abilities and outfits you unlock, and the more useful they become. You’ll gain a jetpack, a glider, different forms, and more capable movement. Soon you can find yourself flying through the sky without ever having to touch the ground.

Like many great games about exploring and collecting, the way the world opens up is really great. In the beginning, a small ledge or a fifty-meter climb is a daunting challenge for you to overcome. As you move through the world, watching it unfold, these small climbs become insignificant. You rise into the air, climbing higher and higher as the land spreads out below you, a beautiful, polygonal mosaic. Soon you find yourself atop mountains and thousand meter high star plants, seeing the entire planet placed before you.


This progression of skill and ability is rewarding up until the very end. Once you can do everything, the game loses the fun that was inherent in the struggle that you had against the environment, and your experience quickly becomes one of checking off boxes on a sheet to reach 100% completion. To do this, you must analyze two dozen different plant types, find 150 crystals, complete forty challenges, and find all of your upgrades and ship parts.

The plants were an interesting idea, even if I only utilized them for roughly ten minutes of my gameplay. The basic idea behind them is that once you analyze a plant, you can throw out a seed to grow that plant type, anytime, anywhere, only at the cost of energy. You can use these to bounce, climb, and float your way up into the sky. Once I learned to climb effectively, and gained my jetpack, I found that I never needed to touch them, and they simply slowed me down and gave me another box to check off a list. It’s an interesting idea for a gameplay mechanic but one that is underutilized for anything besides an achievement or two.

The actual story of the game itself is rather short. I finished it in 2 or 3 hours. The challenges and collection can be fun after that, but they quickly started to feel more like a chore, partly at the fault of the absolutely terrible map that the game used. It looked amazing, but actually using it to find anything was a major pain, and the last few challenges took more time to find on the map than I care to admit. I wish there was a better way to find some of these late game collectibles, as it seems like they are simply trying to pad out their rather short runtime.

It is a great, and gorgeous, way to unwind after a long year of shooting entirely too many things in the face. I love the little attention to detail that they have packed in. The sound design is fantastic, the little chirps of dialogue between you and your companion, the rough yet effective polygonal art style, the way the environment reacts around you. It all works together to make such a relaxing game. There is no conflict, no fighting. Only you against the environment, and all that does is push you around a little bit. I won’t be coming back to it anytime soon, or ever probably. But that is okay. It did its job admirably for now.

This title was reviewed before the inception of our current review system and as such is not scored. We still stand by the content of our old reviews.

Review written for the Xbox One version of the game. Your experience may vary on different platforms.

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Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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