Can Grow: Song of the Evertree Overcome a Slow Start – Yes it Can
With limited time to play and review games, there are a number of things that can make me put down a review build of a title and walk away. One of those things is when a game just cannot seem to get out of it’s own way and let players…play! And that was almost the case with Grow: Song of the Evertree, and if it wasn’t for my love of these style of games – Hello Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons! – I probably would have quit within the first 2 hours. Fortunately for me, I didn’t!
There is no getting around it – the opening few hours of Grow: Song of the Evertree are a chore. A long, drawn out, sometimes boring chore. Walking around the Evertree attempting to water every planet and bash every rock was more work than farming in Story of Seasons, and I feel like it shouldn’t be. But while Story of Seasons has a predictable gameplay loop – you know the stuff you are watering will eventually make you money – you are not quite sure what will happen up on the Evertree.
And while you can argue that this provides a sense of mystery which could push you forward, it wasn’t the case for me. This, coupled with what seemed like a second tutorial with the Everkin was almost enough to make me put my Switch down and walk away. But I didn’t.
See, once you push out of the first two or so hours, Grow: Song of the Evertree opens up in new and exciting ways. You finally have access to all your tools, and can begin “completing” the various areas by gathering all the bugs, flowers, fish, and more. It becomes a sort of completionists dream without it being too hard. And while you slowly restore the Evertree to it’s former glory, you also get to manage and entire village of returning alchemists, giving them homes, shops, and more. You have a fair bit of control over this endeavor as well, as things are not simply placed on a grid. Instead, you can rotate and drop homes and business almost anywhere, and watching your own personal town grow is actually quite exciting. More exciting is how much your town will differ from others!
And after those first few tedious hours, Song of the Evertree begins throwing new content, concepts, and gameplay mechanics at you at a steady pace, which means you are constantly moving. While going up into the Evertree to clear out the bad and restore the good can still become a bit of a daily, tedious exercise, you go into those situations with the knowledge that something new and exciting is just around the corner. And that is enough to come back day after day, and play hour after hour.
While I’ve always found titles like Story of Seasons ‘cute’, they don’t have even a 10th of the charm that Grow: Song of the Evertree has. If you are looking for that simulation fix with outstanding visuals and music, look no further than this one. Just be warned – that first little bit can be a slog!