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Grow: Song Of The Evertree Review

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I was minding my business, cutting down dead shrubs, planting seeds, and singing tranquil songs so the trees would grow. On the way, I come across a pair of solid white eyes – yes, that’s right, eyes. A ‘gift’ supposedly. I handed them over to a woman called Eleanor who runs the local inn, and she immediately slotted her new eyes in and thanked me, staring blankly into my soul. I haven’t been back since.

Grow: Song of the Evertree is like Animal Crossing. You have a bunch of tools and are tasked with clearing rubble, planting trees and flowers, taming animals, gathering materials, and more. Each ‘world’ you fix up grows and transforms from an arid desert to a luscious landscape and you can use the treasure and essence you find to build up the main town where you’ll house villagers and build stores – just like Animal Crossing.

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However, instead of a small getaway island, you have a giant tree with a bunch of branches. You fly up and plant seeds along these, creating miniature islands. The main goal is to get rid of all the purple goo that’s killing the world which requires that essence I mentioned, hence all the little worlds you create and cultivate. Aside from that, you’re completely free to tackle things at your own pace.


Grow Book

The world has a fairy tale edge – it’s immediately on display as you’re introduced to a talking cauldron and book, both of which bicker like they’re your grandparents. They give you your first seed, so you hop on your griffin and fly to a suitable spot. You plant it, but what sprouts isn’t exactly a walk down Queen’s Park – it’s all dusty and decrepit. The bushes are dead and there’s no sign of greenery. Naturally, you plop some plants down, smash some boulders, get rid of the rubble that’s appeared, and clean up. Then you sleep, go back, find it’s grown, and do it all again. Rinse and repeat.


It’s repetitive yet cathartic. Sometimes you grow tired of story-based games that demand your concentration at every waking moment. There’s that incessant need to glue yourself to the screen to become completely immersed in the experience. I love that, but too much of it is draining. So it’s nice to unwind and have something simple I can keep chipping away at, seeing my progress slowly develop over time. All the while, I gather resources to build up my town, adding new buildings like the haunted inn – I’m not going back there. Eleanor might try to talk to me. You even have little quests to complete and stamps to gather which are essentially Animal Crossing’s Nook Mile Rewards, but don’t tell Tom Nook – he’s liable to sue.


You’re at peace just dotting about the place, cleaning up the scenery while completing regular tasks. I wish I could find that kind of serenity in tidying up at home because my room wouldn’t be in such a state, but it hits different here. What’s more, you can sleep to progress time. There’s no need for time travel or waiting for hours, so you can go at your own pace. That’s what gives Grow an edge and sets it apart. It’s Animal Crossing with an added level of freedom, doubly so since I’m free of the self-consciousness that comes with seeing everyone else’s better islands.

However, it starts too fast. You’re given your tools immediately so there’s no sense of ascending to greater heights – right off the bat, you have an axe, a shovel, a watering can, and all the other essentials. You don’t earn any of that. It’s handed to you on a silver platter. Minecraft has you work your way up, crafting tools with resources you find in the wild; Stardew Valley is similar, unlocking new ways to farm and fend off enemies in caves; Animal Crossing gradually gives you new equipment that lets you catch bugs, fish, hop over lakes, or climb up cliff sides – Grow lacks that initial momentum, so the start feels a little stunted in comparison.



Grow Island

Once you’re in the thick of it, there’s a lot to admire. But what really caught my eye were the animals – there are loads, and they’re adorable. The first you come across is a fuzzy purple critter. They’re covered in gunk, rolling around and panicking like a stray cat caught in the bins. You’re inclined to help because they’re so cute, even if there’s a risk of being nipped. So you clean it off, pet them, play with them, and befriend them. Petting the dog is a trope that’s getting cheaper and cheaper, but helping nurture stray animals in a pickle is an exception to the rule – it’s nice to help out, and it feels tied to that idea of cleansing the world of its corruption, only it’s less literal. You could easily abscond this feature from the game and it wouldn’t change much at all, but they make the world feel that much warmer – they make it less lonely.


Once you get going, it’s hard to put Grow down. Animal Crossing tends to have a firm cut off point each day where you know you’re best leaving it until the island replenishes, but in Grow, you can sleep and keep going. It’s therapeutic in a way that even its inspirations aren’t. Often games like this can get overwhelming fast as new features pile on. Grow doesn’t – it’s simple and to the point, so that relaxing sensation never wanes.


Grow review card

Score: 4/5. A PC code was provided by the publisher.

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