I have no intention of wasting your time. Grow: Song of the Evertree is one of the greatest games I’ve ever played. Now I appreciate that there is some merit to the foreplay before a reviewer dives into what makes each and every facet of a truly exceptional game like Grow: Song of the Evertree shine. However, I genuinely feel that you’re better off knowing from the outset that this is not only an incredibly addictive game, but one so remarkable that I feel words alone won’t suffice. Alas, for now, they’ll have to do.
“There is a delightful magic to watching as your inputs have an active effect on the world around you.”
Let me preface this review by stating that I was given access to a preview build of Grow: Song of the Evertree. As a result, I was only able to experience a small portion of what the game has to offer. Fortunately, the few hours that I spent in its delightfully vibrant world were not only engrossingly addictive but genuinely fun.
Grow: Song of the Evertree’s gameplay can be split into two distinct parts. The first – and one you’re initially introduced to – is tending to the Evertree itself. By planting World Seeds, the player gains access to mini-worlds that need care, love and attention. They start off barren and smothered in corruption, broken rocks and scattered planks of wood.
However, by planting seeds, breaking apart the rocks and wood and bursting into melodic melodies, you can actively transform these worlds. Doing all of this is genuinely a lot of fun and feels like an expertly simplified farming sim. Once you’ve completed all there is to do in a day you’re actively told there’s little else to achieve. From then you’re free to do as you please until you come back the following day.
Upon doing so, you get to see how the world has transformed due to your actions. That moment when you return is a sensational experience. There is a delightful magic to watching as your inputs have an active effect on the world around you. The fact that it is gradual over multiple days makes your hard work feel that much more satisfyingly and ultimately extremely rewarding.
“Managing your town, its villagers and their needs in Grow: Song of the Evertree is exceptionally fun and even relaxing.”
The other aspect of Grow: Song of the Evertree’s gameplay that I got to experience was town management. After accessing a large open field the player gets the ability to invite visitors to live in their village. By using resources found while tending to your mini-worlds, you can build various houses and businesses for your newfound villagers to live and work in.
I found the management element to be both in-depth and yet easily manageable. Constructing a house is as simple as pressing a few buttons, and placing it wherever you want within the confines of the village’s boundaries is easy enough. But each villager has their own wants and needs and brings to the table a clearly defined set of skills. Making sure that they get their dream job, for example, is crucial to ensuring that the village’s happiness remains in the green.
However, despite the complexity of this mechanic, I never felt it detracted from the blissful serenity the rest of the game’s gameplay offers. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Managing the town, its villagers and their needs is exceptionally fun and even relaxing. Seeing your little village slowly grow in size all while decorating it with trinkets and objects found while tending to your worlds is undeniably satisfying.
Instead of being a distraction from the rest of the game, the town management acts as a fulfilling companion to it. It offers purpose and clearly defined tasks to a player who may otherwise have gotten lost in the repetition. It is complementary rather than supplementary, and is an admirable accomplishment from the developers to have made both of these elements work so well in tandem.
“Grow: Song of the Evertree gives the player small, easily accomplishable goals that net quick and euphoric-inducing rewards.”
However, the truly exceptional thing about Grow: Song of the Evertree is that it extends itself far beyond these two core concepts. It manages to brilliantly tie them together with an unendingly satisfying gameplay loop that simultaneously rewards and encourages the player. Through minor tasks and a fulfilling feedback loop, Grow: Song of the Evertree quickly hooks the player and never lets go.
In the same vein as Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Grow: Song of the Evertree gives the player small, easily accomplishable goals that net quick and euphoric-inducing rewards. These can range from the banal to the entertaining. However, they are all achievable by simply interacting with the game’s extremely enjoyable mechanics.
Beyond that, the game also offers collectables that are obtainable by simply tending to your mini-worlds. There is also numerous kinds of currency that can be collected naturally or crafted by recycling the various pieces of junk you encounter while playing. Because all of this is gained by doing little other than playing the game, it offers the player a neverending loop of satisfaction that spurs them on to continue their adventure.
“The game’s soundtrack somehow manages to simultaneously encapsulate the succinctly sombre atmosphere and the bombastic sensation one gets when first stepping into its mesmerisingly magic world.”
Of course, tying all of these wonderful elements together is Grow: Song of the Evertree’s phenomenal visuals. Each area of its world is oozing with both beauty and personality. While it absolutely borrows from established fantasy tropes, its world nevertheless feels enchantingly unique. From verdant valleys and vibrant vistas to cascading waterfalls, exploring its world offers players the most fantastically stupendous views. But even in its quieter moments, Grow: Song of the Evertree’s world shines brightly.
Complementing these delightful visuals is Grow: Song of the Evertree’s suitably poignant soundtrack. It somehow manages to not only encapsulate the succinctly sombre atmosphere surrounding the game’s desolate story but also the bombastic sensation one gets when first stepping into its mesmerisingly magic world. Each and every track, from the game’s Ghibli-like opening theme song that swoons the player with its combination of soft piano and captivatingly beautiful singing to its general atmospheric tracks that help immerse the player in this grandiose world, is genuinely phenomenal.
“Grow: Song of the Evertree is so phenomenally fantastic that I simply cannot wait for its full release.”
Now I understand that the version of Grow: Song of the Evertree I got to try was a preview build. Therefore it is expected that there’d be a fair amount of bugs and glitches. However, to my surprise, I genuinely only experienced two bugs which were both inconsequential ones at that. Throughout the many hours I spent tending to my Evertree, my immersion was never broken. Not once. Sure, there was an NPC who sat a few too many inches away from a bench and another whose eye jiggled around. But beyond that, I had a beautifully bug-free time.
I feel that is somewhat a testament to Grow: Song of the Evertree’s overall quality. This is an indie game that goes above and beyond what is expected of it. It offers unparalleled immersion in a world so fantastically beautiful that I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Its gameplay systems are so brilliantly refined, so engrossingly addictive, so satisfyingly rewarding that the loop it creates becomes spellbindingly blissful in a way that no other game has managed to achieve. Grow: Song of the Evertree is so phenomenally fantastic that I simply cannot wait for its full release. There is a very good chance that this exceptionally exquisite game will be one of the best games of the decade.
Be sure to head on over to Grow: Song of the Evertree’s Steam store page to wishlist it and be notified of any future updates. It is launching on November 16th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC for $24.99/€24.99/£19.99.