If you enjoy games that let you go at your own pace, where you can shape the world around you, then Grow: Song of the Evertree really ought to be on your radar.
This whimsical world-building game casts you as an Alchemist in the land of Alaria. The last of your kind, in fact. A terrible fate has befallen the world, and the Evertree, which provides life to all around it, has stopped growing. Thankfully, you happen to be the one who can restore life to it. By planting seeds, singing a magical, long-forgotten song, and restoring Alaria to the land it once was, the world will soon be thriving once more. But to get there, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.
There are a lot of facets to Grow: Song of the Evertree, and if you’re the type of person who enjoys sinking into a game, getting stuck into some busywork and doing things in whatever order you like, you’ll instantly find a lot to love here. Grow leads you into proceedings gently, showing you the ropes and guiding you step by step. The first element you’ll be introduced to is planting a World Seed; a seed that sprouts a whole new world on a branch of the World Tree. But going to that new world, and you’ll be faced with a barren mess. Luckily you’ve got a set of tools to help you out.
You’ll need to pull out weeds, break down rocks, plant new seeds and water them in order to get your new world ship-shape. As you progress through tidying up, you’ll gradually see lush greenery come to the world again as plants and trees begin to flourish. These farming elements likely won’t appeal to everyone, but if you don’t mind some basic, repetitive actions, the pay off is more than worth it.
Tending to those tree worlds is only a small part of what you’ll be doing in Grow: Song of the Evertree. At the base of the tree you’ll find your home, where thriving towns once stood. There have been no visitors for a long time, however – but you’re about to change that. By fixing the port, building houses and establishing new facilities, people will begin to flock to Alaria. You’ll need to gather resources from your tree worlds in order to build, so your time will be spent fairly equally between the town and your new worlds.
As you progress through the game, you’ll be able to build multiple tree worlds, and your towns down on the ground will expand, too. Meeting all criteria in your first town – which amounts to having enough buildings, residents and decorations – will lead to you creating another town, and so on, until Alaria is a thriving metropolis.
But there’s more than just farming and welcoming visitors to be done. Fully restoring the tree means finding a number of ‘Song Fragments’, which have been hidden all over the world. Getting these means exploring the land, finding where they’re hidden and, once inside their dungeon-like hiding places, you’ll need to solve some puzzles. There’s nothing too taxing here – some switch-based puzzles, sliding blocks and basic platforming. But it makes for another string in Grow: Song of the Evertree‘s bow; another welcome gameplay element that goes a long way in enriching the experience.
Both on the ground and up in your tree worlds, there are plenty of secrets to be found, too. Each new world that you create is completely random, and many will spawn with caves to explore or small puzzles to complete. It pays to explore, even if the prize is just a few cosmetic items or decorations to place around your town. The fun is in the hunt. Your townspeople will often also give you quests to complete. Maybe you’ll be asked to find someone a beard, or perhaps they’ll want a specific flower that grows on one of your tree worlds. These are optional, but completing quests will net you rewards, all of which may be useful at some point.
Perhaps the greatest thing about Grow: Song of the Evertree, though, is its price tag. It’s just £19.99/$24.99, and for that, it packs in dozens – maybe even hundreds – of hours worth of entertainment. If you value your games over how long they last, then they don’t come much better value than this. For as long as you’re happy building, farming and growing new worlds, there’s always something to be done.
However: since its release just over a week ago, Grow: Song of the Evertree has been affected by a number of bugs, some progression-halting. I was unfortunately affected by one; since I progressed further in the town-building elements than the game expected me to, I was unable to move forward in the main storyline. I had to start my game over in order to progress. It’s a bug that developer Prideful Sloth is aware of – and it’s already been fixed on PC – but it’s waiting for a patch on console. So, if you’re picking the game up now, it’s something to be wary of – though it’ll likely be fixed soon.
Grow: Song of the Evertree is the epitome of cosy, wholesome gaming. With a healthy mix of town-building, farming and adventuring, there’s a huge amount of content here for the modest asking price. If you enjoy relaxing games that you can take at your own pace, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a shame that it’s still waiting for some bugs to be ironed out, but once they’re fixed, this will be a must-have.
Grow: Song of the Evertree Review – GameSpew’s Score