Grow Up is a cute, Unity-based platformer. Players take control of a little robot wandering around cute little planets with cute little polygonal animals running around while cute little tunes play in the background.
Grow Up follows B.U.D. (Botanical Utility Droid,) a red robot who appears to be somewhat slightly tipsy. Players help him traverse an alien landscape trying to grow a giant beanstalk to get back to his spaceship. He is assisted in this endeavor by M.O.M., his ship’s A.I. who will often drop obnoxiously saccharine and maternal dialogue on you regarding your safety and preparedness. “Cute” and “charming” are the first words that will pop into your brain when you start playing this game. And if you like that kind of thing, have at it. But for those of us who are a little tired of “adorable” mascots and their “cute” antics, the aesthetic of the game and its main character will grow stale quickly. Fortunately, the game isn’t very long, so you won’t be forced to chug down the “cute and charming” milkshake for more than a few hours.
As far as actual gameplay goes, Grow Up takes a rather interesting and unique path to the mechanics of moving B.U.D. around the environment. Rather than crafting canned animations for B.U.D.’s movement, each step is guided by procedurally generated movements that work a little differently each time depending on direction, weight, speed and inertia. This can be a bit frustrating at first, but there’s a flow to be found once players get familiar with the mechanics. Jumping feels great, but ensuring you are jumping in the correct direction with the correct speed is super important, lest you allow B.U.D. to fall to his doom.
Another innovative mechanic implemented in B.U.D.’s control scheme is climbing—which players will be doing a lot of. Each arm is controlled by one of the shoulder buttons on the DualShock, and scaling the various plants, fungi and rocky outcrops involves using each claw independently to pull B.U.D. up to new heights. While this control scheme has been compared to games like Octodad, B.U.D.’s movements are tighter and more intuitive. This system likely worked a lot better with a mouse and keyboard, but it functions well enough on the PS4 to not be irritating.
The visuals in the game are lovely, even if they aren’t necessarily this reviewer’s cup of tea. The polygonal aesthetic and vibrant, effervescent colours certainly look beautiful, and the various sections or levels differ enough in style and content to make your short journey not seem tedious.
If you like cute things and pretty colours, Grow Up is a safe bet. If you enjoy interesting, occasionally frustrating approaches to movement in your platformers, you’ll also probably enjoy this game. It’s a fun enough way to kill a few hours, but clearly not a game meant to sink much time into. There’s not much depth to it, but I suppose that wasn’t the intention. Grow Up is a feel-good, friendly, pretty little game that, while not necessarily geared towards the Battlefield/Halo/Gears of War crowd, will find its niche with other pockets of the gaming community.