Developer: Quarant Inc. Publisher: Quarant Inc. Music: Quarant Inc. Platforms: PC (Steam and Itch.io) Released: 19 December 2020 (Ultimate Edition) Genre: 2D puzzle
Your name is Bruce, the greatest gardener of all time. A master of balancing the needs of a plant, protecting it, cherishing it, coaxing it to its full potential. Your skills are so legendary, stories of it reach across time and space, revealing another one of Bruce’s skills; the ability to travel through time. How else are you supposed to keep pot plants alive in an ancient Egyptian tomb?
Grow Big (or Go Home) is a 2D gardening puzzle game, with simple mechanics, a quick pace, and levels that quickly become quite challenging, it has stuck in my mind like a series that I know I should enjoy, but really makes me work for it. And at the end, I’m not sure if I actually enjoyed it, but I sure am thinking a lot about it.
Grow Big (or Go Home) is quite simple. You control Bruce, and you need to use a watering can and mirrors to give indoor plants enough light and water to grow. You’re put into a room ( sometimes a house, sometimes a tomb, sometimes a spaceship), with a number of plants in pots. You don’t have a lot of time, just until the end of the day, represented by sunlight through windows moving across the room from left to right. Using mirrors, you redirect the sunlight from the windows towards the plants, and using a watering can that you need to refill after each use, you water the plants.
It’s not that simple though. The sunlight moves quickly, so you need to move the mirror around. If the plant is hit by sunlight for too long, it will catch on fire, so it takes one use of the watering can to put out, or later you can use a fan to keep the plant cool I guess?
You often have more than one plant to look after, but you only have one mirror and watering can. So it becomes a balancing act, trying to give each plant everything they need, without them catching on fire, or being knocked over. There are simple obstacles to work around, like walls or furniture. I have rarely gotten so frustrated by a tree.
It gets really hectic, really quickly, and even with a dash ability, I found myself having to redo a level more than a couple of times until I found the method that worked best for it, or at least worked well enough for me to progress.
It also doesn’t help that some things you need to figure out yourself, like the bar next to the plant (is it a water bar? Does it need to be green for the plant to grow? No? Or no now the plant is on fire).
The game has a sort of theme song, themed to whatever the room theme is. Christmas? You get a fun little tune with bells. Halloween? It has more of a spooky tone. Ancient Egypt? More horns and drums! The music is all related, but they’re quite unique as well, with a bit of a flourish that is unique to the theme. On some levels it’s quite relaxing really. In others… less so. The rest of the sound experience is pretty satisfying as well, I enjoyed the little clicks of putting things down and picking them up, and the ‘plant is on fire’ sound is one that is immediately recognisable.
I liked Grow Big (or Go Home), but I’m not sure if it likes me. You can only progress to the next level by earning 3 out of 5 stars, so I found myself doing the bare minimum to move on. I found out you can unlock outfits though, so I did go back to try again and again. It is challenging, but frustratingly so, and I didn’t really get that sweet sweet dopamine hit when I hit 4 stars or higher. It’s not all that satisfying, and some control and design choices made me want to stop playing a lot of the time, but stubbornness kept me going. And for that, I will say it’s a good way to spend some time.
But why haven’t these people ever heard of keeping plants by the northern side windows?