Have you ever wanted to go to space? To travel amongst the stars on a spaceship, visit new planets and once there scan and document the different types of plants. Okay, maybe not so much the last part but that is the mission for BUD (Botanical Utility Droid).
Grow Up is from developers Reflections (you may know their popular franchise Driver) and is the sequel to Grow Home, although you don’t need to have played the previous game. You control BUD as he finds himself planetside after his ship crashes into a meteor. When you begin you may find BUD moves a little awkwardly as he stumbles around like a drunken robot having had too many shots of WD40. This is how BUD moved in the previous game too so it would seem that Reflections see this as part of his charm.
Not long after you start you’ll meet POD (Planetary Observation Droid), another droid that informs that he has found MOM (the AI that runs your ship) stranded on the moon. POD serves as your map allowing you to look around the planet in a top down 3D view. You’ll use this to look for the pieces of your ship and can set a waypoint towards your next destination. Once you find a piece of your ship you’ll need to help POD pick it up so it can be brought to the moon for you to put back together again. So you’ll need to find a way to the moon too but how? New abilities and upgrades.
The first upgrade you find is your FloraDex 3000 which allows you to scan any of the florafauna (plants), once scanned you can recreate a seed at any time and instantly grow it into a full sized plant. These plants can help you traverse the land as you can use them to climb, jump higher, get thrown vast distances. The main plant you will be looking for are the starplants which are giant plants that you can grow to incredible size provided you grow their buds to sufficient energy sources.
While growing the starplants to help get access to higher levels, you will also find new abilities to help you move around and explore the land. These can only be used for short amounts of time initially but as you find data crystals you can increase their usage, represented as battery power. The data crystals can also help enhance your abilities to more advanced levels to it is worth the time looking for them, or at least collecting those you see on your journey.
Scattered throughout the world you’ll also find beacons, once activated they allow you to fast travel to any other one you have activated allowing you to cross the planet. Another set of beacons serve as POD challenges which require you to pass through a number of checkpoints within a time limit. By completing so many you will earn outfits each with different benefits for BUD. The map comes in very handy here as you can move around the planet, zooming in and out, looking for the different beacons, ship parts, plants and data crystals. There are so much things to find it would have been nice if there was a filter to allow you to only see specific types of objects.
The game itself runs very smoothly although on occasion it can suffer from slow down to the extent that the only way to rectify it was to return to the PlayStation dashboard and close the application and then load the game again. It didn’t happen often, about three times during my time with the game and probably after long sessions. While annoying, it didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment. If you die during the game or if you want to restart any of the checkpoint challenges then you respawn within seconds. In fact, the only time you experience loading is when you start /continue the game. This is helped as the world is created with larger polygons which means the world gets rendered quickly. While this means that you won’t see perfectly rounded shapes there’s still ample detail for you to recognise what everything is meant to be. You may also get momentary freezes as the game autosaves from time to time.
The world is very colourful too with lots of bright colours and the sky getting darker as you move around the planet and out of the sun’s light. Clouds move across the sky and around you, when you get high enough and at times they can also block your view when you are trying to get to the next platform. The higher you get the more of the world you can see which and when high enough you can look down on the planet and see the changing hue of the sky from bright to dark which looks spectacular. The music plays softly in the background as you play and you’ll hear beeps and boops from BUD as he travels around and uses his abilities.
With regards to the trophies, some will come naturally with completing the game and there are some specific to collectible type goals, requiring certain actions as well as attaining 100% game completion. While some of them may take time to complete there are a couple that can be tricky. These are tied to finding specific items in the game and you may come across them while looking for the data crystals, but if not then you will need to explore (or look up a guide) as they are no clues as to where to find them. There is no platinum trophy but a few long sessions with the game could see you collect them all, whereas casual gamers could at least complete the main game in a couple of days.
You can play at your own pace whether you want to focus on the main story, search for collectibles, find the different plants or just explore the world. It’s just a shame that by the time you have all your upgrades there will be likely be very little left for you to do with them. That being said, with everything there is to do in Grow Up it is a very relaxing game to play. So if you want a break from games that require lightning reflexes, have long intricate stories or need you to be focused competing against other players online then Grow Up may just be the change of pace you need.