Grow Review

Grow Review

May 5, 2011

UPDATE 5/9/11: In my review, I made the observation that locked items in the store didn’t include any information on how to unlock them. Since this review went up, a new version of Grow was released (1.01) which includes details on on how to unlock items in the store. The original score still stands, however, as it was only an observation and didn’t factor into the final score, which is based on graphics/sound, controls, gameplay and replay value.

Growing up, I remember having an aquarium with half a dozen goldfish. Aside from the occasional frenzy you’d get out of them at dinner time, they were pretty much the most boring things in the world. Certainly, they were a lot less interesting than what’s going on in Grow.

Grow focuses on the harrowing tale of a young fish just getting its start in life. As the fish, you must struggle your way through a number of environments, beginning in a small jar and eventually making your way to the open sea. As you make your way through the game, you meet a variety of fish, and then eat them. Or, they eat you. It’s truly a “survival of the fittest” scenario, where having a brain, the ability to reason and a variety of power-ups can make all the difference.

You have power-ups that make you swim faster, turn invisible, become temporarily larger or zap the fish around you, stunning them just long enough for you to either escape or capture them, depending on which way you’re swimming. Every time you eat a fish, a number of coins comes out, which you’ll have to collect if you want to buy upgrades from the store. You can upgrade your agility, buy an instant transformation into adulthood, or upgrade the power-ups, making them more effective and longer-lasting. Unfortunately, here’s where I encountered my first major snag.

A lot of the items in the store are locked, so you can’t buy them even if you have enough coins. How do you unlock them? I have no idea. If it was ever explained, I never saw it. After playing through the whole game and ranking 2 or more stars on each level, many of the upgrades remain locked. And, believe me, that’s a bummer, because I really could have used them in some of the later levels. The game gets very difficult towards the end.

There are 64 levels to play through across 7 different environments in Adventure mode. In most levels, you start out small, only able to eat fish the same size as you. As you eat, you grow until you become big enough to eat all the other fish and finish the level. In other levels, the goal is merely to survive.

Then you have Survival mode, which places you in an endless game of eat or be eaten, competing for the highest score in each of the 7 environments. As much as I enjoyed Adventure mode, Survival mode is the reason I’ll keep coming back. It was a good idea to include more than one way to play, as each person who plays Grow will likely prefer one mode over the other.

Despite my troubles with unlocking items in the store, Grow is still a fantastic game which I thoroughly enjoyed. Hopefully, the developers will address the problems in future updates and make this great game even better.


Grow Review Rundown

8
Graphics/Sound - The graphics look very good. The only thing I didn't like is the way fish "flicker" when they first appear. It's a bit distracting.
7
Controls - I really wasn't happy with the controls. Sometimes, tapping the power-up button just wouldn't register. Despite that oddity, the touch-screen control pad worked well-enough to enjoy the game.
8
Gameplay - Extremely addictive. I found myself compelled to push on, wanting to see the next stage and watch my fish grow.
8
Replay Value - The Adventure mode takes a few hours to complete, but even after you're done, you still have the option to go back and get three stars on each level while unlocking items in the store. Survival mode is going to be the reason most people come back, however. Trying to beat your score while going as long as possible definitely had me stuck on the game.
7.75
Overall - Grow is a great game. Lots of fun and a nice variation on concepts I've seen before. That said, the confusion I experienced with unlocking items in the store makes me wish the game had some kind of instruction manual built-in to at least tell players what they must do to unlock store items. Otherwise, terrific game.

App available on the Google Play Store »

Demo version is also available on the Google Play Store »

Dale Culp
Dale Culp has been writing about video games in print and on the web for the better part of the last 10 years. From the Atari 2600 to the Xbox 360 and beyond, he's covered just about everything. You'll find his work in places such as TheWeekender.com, GoLackawanna.com, Gamesylvania.com, EscapistMagazine.com and even IGN.com
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