From publisher Assemble Entertainment and developer VoodooDuck, indie game Growth offers just enough of a strategic challenge to be described as a cozy game as you try to move a bunch of animals to explore a large hex tile map.
I received a free digital code for Growth on the Nintendo Switch for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.
I had my eyes on Growth ever since I talked about it on The Geekiary back in October of this year. There was just something about the gameplay and graphics featured in the promo material that attracted me. I like low-stakes exploration games. And Growth gave me just that.
While playing the game, you will be dropped off into a procedurally generated land made of hex tiles. Your job is to explore as much of the land to fill the exploration meter on the bottom left corner of the screen. Upon 100% completion, you will gain the ability to unlock another adjacent hex map. Along the way, you will also search for certain ‘Interest Points’ that will grant you benefits to aid with your exploration.
Clearing the numerous hex tiles on the map is to be done by using a variety of animals at your disposal. You start with deer and then work your way up to boars. Both animals can be found in forest habitats, with boars being capable of covering more terrain. You then unlock bees that can fly over water hex tiles. There are also goats that can transverse mountains and ducks that can swim in the water hex titles. You will also gain access to bats and hawks to plan your course of travel. I liked the hawks because they can unlock a bunch of hex tiles anywhere on the map.
The different animals are systematically unlocked so as not to overwhelm you with the choices. The game does a good job of getting you used to a certain type of animal before increasing the complexity of the game.
In a way, Growth is here to help you out as much as possible. When deciding where to send a particular type of animal, you will get to see the number of hex tiles a certain move will uncover. You will also get to see whether or not selecting a specific hex tile will unlock more animals for you to use.
The strategic element of the gameplay is about ensuring every move counts because running out of animals means game over.
Do yourself a favor and try to connect small habitats or clusters to unlock more animals. Again, the game will let you know if linking particular smaller habitats will provide you with more wildlife or not. So, focus on bridging the ones that will unlock more deer, boars, bees, etc.
Another way the game aids your journey is via the color of the hex tiles. The green hex tiles denote forests (for deer and boars). The yellow hex tiles are for bees. Blue hex tiles are water while the brown ones are for mountains. While the game does include strategy, there is also a level of luck involved when it comes to what type of procedurally generated map you get to travel through.
A great way to enjoy Growth is by not being too competitive about it. I mean, there isn’t a timer for you to race against. There also isn’t any leaderboard to encourage players to beat each other’s best time or score. Growth is for your leisure only. So, who cares if you run out of animals? You can always restart the game and get to enjoy a new map, this time polishing your strategy by having learned from your previous game session.
Enjoy the chill soundtrack and the “pops” that occur whenever you uncover a new hex tile. Depending on the clusters you are able to create on the map, you can see your animals vibing in their natural habitats.
I really liked playing Growth in short 10-15 minute intervals on my Nintendo Switch. But of course, it’s up to you if you want short game sessions or want to explore the entire map in one setting. I think if you’re really good at it, you can complete the entire map in under an hour.
Growth was released on the Nintendo Switch on December 21, 2023, for only $9.99. As of writing this review, the title has a 20% sale going on, allowing you to buy it for only $7.99. It is also available on Steam (where it has received very positive reviews) and is Steam Deck Verified.
Have you played Growth yet?
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Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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