Grow: Song of the Evertree (Grow henceforth!) is a charming adventure game with an abundant mix of genres. You take on the role of the last Alchemist — one of the people who are in charge of keeping the Evertree safe — and your mission is to push back the corruption that is overtaking the land and bring back the people to the tree.
It's hard to put into words what you can do in Grow, as it has so many different mechanics to it. Unfortunately, most games that do this end up with a ton of empty features and not a lot to do; whilst Grow suffers a similar fate due to some gameplay aspects feeling a bit lacking, it didn't kill my love for this game, and that says a lot.
Your main objective throughout the whole game is to push back The Withering that has taken over the world, uncover new areas, and find the Song Fragments to unravel the story. For the most part, you do all of this by collecting resources from the worlds on the Evertree branches, then turning them into Essences through alchemical processes, and then using them to make towns, bringing people back.
In order to save the tree from The Withering, you'll need to create new world seeds to plant on its branches through alchemy, care for them until they're fully grown, and use their resources to build up the towns at the base of the Evertree. This was a greatly satisfying task, as I loved watching the barren lands end up in gorgeous and colourful wilds through hard work and tons of love. Additionally, I never grew tired of the explosion of items and resources every time I used the Song to help them sprout!
Aside from tending to the seeds, you'll also need to take care of the population by creating towns they can come live in. Through the resources from the wild, you can make all sorts of buildings and place them however you please. The more you push back The Withering and the more feats you achieve (such as collecting bugs or finishing quests from NPCs), the more buildings you'll unlock for your towns.
In between saving the world from corruption, you'll be decorating and collecting stuff, and I was quite excited about this part of the game as I am an enormous fan of decorating. Unfortunately, this is one of Grow's weakest aspects, as the mechanic itself is quite limited in many ways. For starters, the buildings can only be decorated through mostly extravagant and colourful wallpapers you collect, the items are very repetitive, it's hard to have enough to decorate a town properly before you need to move on to the next one, and overall it just feels a bit clunky.
That being said, I quite enjoyed it regardless. The fact that I had to adapt to the odd colours and patterns made me see the beauty in a style I had never used in my (many) previous decorating adventures. In the end, every town looked lively and silly — something I came to appreciate greatly. Additionally, although it's necessary to add some decoration to the towns for them to count as completed, it isn't hard to achieve the requirement, meaning you don't have to put in effort if you don't want to.
There are numerous randomly generated villagers that inhabit these towns you create; every NPC has their own stats, names, appearances, and dream job. Whilst I didn't mind that they didn't bring much to the gameplay outside of silly quests, I thought it might be worth mentioning for anyone who might. I was satisfied with them, especially thanks to the great humour in the quests they gave out!
Another aspect I was quite excited about — as someone who enjoys the Animal Crossing franchise — was the bug-catching and fishing. This was — unfortunately — also a bit lacklustre, as I spent many hours catching bugs and fish to end up not really using them in the end. Sometimes villagers will ask you to bring them one, and you can also put them within some nature reserves, but I never did find what else to do with them. I resorted to only catching ones I didn't recognise to collect all the bugs and fish I could but then moving on from the areas. This feels empty because you can't trade them, can't use them as pets, and you can't sell them for Myora (the currency).
Despite the fact that the mechanics I was most excited about were a bit disappointing, I still very much enjoyed Grow; this was especially true the more I explored the game. I found myself being entertained by the exploration and dungeons enough that I didn't miss the things I had originally cared for, and before I knew it, I was playing for hours on end.
I'm not going to say that Grow: Song of the Evertree is a flawless game, but it would be a lie to say it's not a good one. I laughed plenty of times thanks to the witty dialogue, I really enjoyed the dungeons, and it feels like everything you do is rewarded thanks to the great achievement system that offers tons of prizes. Not to mention that the game has some really gorgeous areas, and the sound design is spectacular! I loved hearing the wilderness noises whenever I was tending to the worlds on the Evertree branches.
If you like adventure games and you're looking for a relaxing, colourful, and fun title, I don't see why you shouldn't give Grow: Song of the Evertree a chance. It's charming, chock-full of humour, and a nice title to spend some hours on.
Grow: Song of the Evertree (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
Although lacking in some aspects, what Grow: Song of the Evertree gets right is the sense of whimsical fun and adventure. Definitely worth giving a try!