Pwnage Digest – Grow Home, Destiny, and the New 3DS

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Grow Home is a must-buy

$9.95 USD – Windows – Steam – Played for 8+ Hours

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Grow Home is a beautiful game that literally came out of nowhere, and you need to play it.

Built by 8 people at Ubisoft’s British studio, Reflections, Grow Home places you in a vivid, colourful, polygonal world, with a seriously infectious feeling of fun that is hard to explain.

You play as B.U.D, a procedurally animated, bright red robot tasked with growing a ‘Star Plant’, as the name would allude to, into the skies.

Most of the gameplay of Grow Home involves climbing, with a twin-stick, dual-trigger approach, each side corresponding to the left and right arms of B.U.D. And personally I found this, alone, to be super solid and satisfying. If anything, Grow Home is a pretty interesting take on the underrepresented climbing genre, if that’s a thing that exists.

But climbing is only half of the story. Actually growing the plant involves grabbing onto Star Shoots, which grow off the main plant like rose buds, and you can pretty much drive these into any direction, preferably hitting a floating piece of earth. And all this is also a juggling act with the deceptively tough task of not falling right back down to earth. Thanks to an impressive draw distance, there’s a crazy sense of scale throughout the game, and falling can be crushing, though also, thanks to fairly positioned checkpoints, motivating consequence.

A lot of the fun of Grow Home comes from that challenge too, with an awkward, though endearing manual effort required to hold onto the environment, and you really do feel like you’re getting better at the game as it goes along. Despite being a floaty, physics-heavy game too, the controls still have a really tight.

A lot of Gone Home is about exploring the bright, cel-shaded world, with a main incentive for exploration being the collection of B.U.D-improving crystals, which introduce new ways of traversing the land-scape, such as a progressively more powerful jet-pack to help you fly from stem to stem, as well as increased camera controls, which is more useful than you’d think.

The sound design of Grow Home alone deserves recognition too, especially when it comes to collecting those damn crystals, with a distinctive ringing sound drifting through the air when you’re in close proximity to another one. When I’d collected 99/100 of the crystals, that shimmering sound alone made me super happy, as I tried to find out where it was coming from. Headphones are pretty much required if you want to get the most out of this, or at least some sick speakers.

Beyond this, Grow Home is just a genuinely quirky, fun game, escapism in its purist form. It’s well written, with a cute story, and it has a refreshingly clear progression path, with a definite beginning and end to the main campaign. Basically it’s an art-y, relaxing game that you’ll actually want to play, and from beginning to end I had a big, dumb grin on my face.

I started playing Destiny again, dammit

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I put around 20 hours into Destiny the first time around, which is a bloody long time for me to be playing any game, and yet here I am, sliding that dumb game back into my PS4 and making up for lost time, like a play-date with an old friend.

But that’s the funny thing about Destiny. It’s built for that, as if its developers planned for abandonment, and even though I missed out on a lot of time I could’ve spent collecting the Light currency, the game was almost too rewarding in helping me catch up with other players.

Destiny is, at its core, an excellent shooter, and even though I keep playing it I’m still frustrated to see the fast, fun gameplay wasted on a fairly empty, unfinished structure of a game. And yet, it was my favourite game of 2015. [Mad World.mp3]

Also, this ‘What If’ video about the game is such a treat.

New 3DS envy

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My 3DS XL is a weird system. I seriously want to play it more, but I just feel awkward doing so. It’s so unnecessarily bulky, and big, and the screen is terrible, and gosh darn I just want the smaller New 3DS and now I feel like the worst kind of consumer.

Like, just look at that thing. It reminds me of a GBA SP, rather than a 90s-era Nokia, and I just want to ‘downgrade’ down to the smaller size for some weird reason. Anyone else? Is the screen-size difference, which admittedly is a bit of a gulf, terrible? Or is it sane to want a portable to be portable?

Also, condolences to any US readers, who can’t even get the smaller unit. Nintendo.

Pwnage Digest is a conversational peek at the world of video games, though it’s still a work in progress. Let me know if you liked it or not.