On its own, the simulation genre isn’t everyone’s preference, but when tethered to other genres, it can serve to provide truly beloved and standout experiences for diverse crowds. The Prideful Sloth developed and 505 Games published Grow: Song of the Evertree has the potential to be in that realm of enjoyability. Though, its overt simplicity and current state of lacking optimization are worth noting for intrigued parties.
When starting, players are introduced to the world of Alaria, which has its existence practically defined by the Evertree, a wondrously substantial plant that houses various worlds on its branches. Well, at least it once did. Now, its state is comparatively diminutive as it is simply a sapling. However, the protagonist is an Everheart Alchemist who can hopefully restore the Evertree to its former brilliance.
Players can customize their character, and while options are relatively limited, the art style’s adorable charm and bright coloration make most chosen looks appealing. The world itself is also a delight to explore, thanks to this design choice. Grow does an adequate job of welcoming players with those aforementioned points alongside friendly NPCs and frequently kind tutorials. There’s an unmistakable effort here to provide an immersively relaxing venue regardless of the conflicts that must ultimately be confronted.
Gameplay-wise, there are various activities to tend to, such as exploring and gathering materials, conversing with NPCs, and fulfilling quests. Gardening is also featured and can be rewarding depending on the expectations players have from its systems. Still, for those who are exceptionally experienced gardeners in other games, the mechanics here in Grow may not be enough to keep you entertained. For instance, one of the abilities you quickly get is hastening seeds to borderline full maturity with a song. This removes a vast element of patience that some may view as rewarding. Additionally, at least for as long as I’ve played, the gardening is mindless in not the zen-like focus way, but more like the trivial, one-and-done way. Nevertheless, as someone not fully versed in the farming genre, I still had fun partaking in the tasks; I just doubt adept fans of the general tasks will find much to write home about here.
There are dungeons and other similar areas to explore, which are legitimately enjoyable to run through. Occasional puzzles are strewn about with materials to gather, and I found this element of the gameplay loop far more satisfying. Additionally, there are several other notable elements like customizing the growth of a town you create, so there is much to do. While there are many tasks to keep players busy, many feel fairly surface-level, though their complexities might become more evident the further one advances.
Performance-wise, Grow was mostly satisfactory, though there is one massive glitch I experienced. Shortly after the gardening tutorial where I had to fast-travel back home, I found myself in an infinite loading screen where my silhouetted character was stuck floating amongst the clouds. Thankfully, reloading my save fixed this issue, but there are definitely some mishaps that need ironing out.
Grow: Song of the Evertree is the kind of game that seems meant for those desiring the joy of creation and exploration without many of the complications that arise from those tasks, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Players just need to know the type of adventure this is before diving into it. For those it clicks with, this journey will undoubtedly be a continually satisfying one once its performance is optimized.
Grow: Song of the Evertree is in development for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC for a 2021 release.
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