Grow Home was one of the best games featured in 2015’s PS Plus subscription. Grow Home was a short and simple platformer that’s noteworthy for its verticality and climbing mechanics. It’s a cell shaded Stallone-less version of Cliffhanger. I found it both original and charming. Now, less than twelve months later, Ubisoft’s Reflections studio released the sequel Grow Up. Grow up is bigger and better than its predecessor in every way. Even with a few lingering issues, it’s still one of the best platformers I have played in years.
Sadly Grow Up was not part of the PS Plus line-up. You will need to purchase this one separately. Grow Up follows the events of Grow Home, although playing it is not required to engage with the minimal story. You play as BUD, a quirky robot who walks like he’s reaching the end of a long pub crawl. BUD is aboard his mothership aptly titled MOM, where he’s losing at tic-tac-toe to the ship’s AI. Collison with an asteroid scatters the pieces of MOM and sends BUD hurdling towards the ground of an unfamiliar planet.
BUD begins his quest to rebuild MOM by collecting pieces of the mothership and reaching the highest point of the map – the moon. To do this, BUD engages the flora of the planet, where each plant offers a different ability to assist with the climb. Hence the ‘Grow’ in the title. One plant operates as a slingshot, another is a hot air balloon, and another a lily pad for crossing water – BUD can’t swim. You only have to locate a plant once, hold the square button and it’s added to BUD’s backpack to be deployed at any time.
The other key feature is the climbing mechanic. BUD can scale any surface by alternating between the L1 and R1 buttons, each representing one of his hands. It may take some time, but eventually, you will find your rhythm switching hands. Each hand features an Y that becomes an O to signify that you are safely latched to a surface. An issue of Grow Home was that BUD’s hands would not always stick to a surface. I can safely say this issue has been fixed in the sequel. Hanging from a surface several kilometres in the air by one hand and looking down can lead to some awe-inspiring moments.
Grow Up expands upon the ideas in the first game. The world is significantly larger, vertically and horizontally. There is a small planet to explore featuring different biomes and alternate paths to the moon. A great thing about Grow up is that you can reach the top however you see fit. Use a combination of star plants varied landscapes and the flora in your backpack to make the climb. There are a number of upgrades to locate which are not required but extremely worth your time.
Upon rebuilding MOM, there’s a lot of content to return for such as achieving the game’s true ending and locating all of the collectables to max out BUD’s skills. Although if you’re not a completionist, you wouldn’t be missing much if you chose to call it a day after the rebuild.
Grow Up is not without its faults. Landmasses and plants would often obstruct my view while I was trying to climb. BUD’s drunk-clumsy movement is part of his charm, although when you are attempting difficult platforming sections, he would often walk off an edge causing me to lose a lot of progress, which can be extremely frustrating.
Grow Up is probably the finest 3-D platformer on the PS4. It has charm, beauty and original gameplay that deserves more attention than it will likely receive. It’s a short experience, but one that never wears out its welcome. Hopefully, Ubisoft continues the ‘Grow’ series, and there’s no reason why BUD can’t be a well-known mascot to compete with Yooka-Laylee in 2017.
Michael Vane is a freelance journalist and co-editor of PN2. He’s on Twitter @DrVane