In a month's time, Prideful Sloth and 505 Games will be launching the casual adventure game Grow: Song of the Evertree. Ahead of the release of this delightful, vibrant experience, I've had the chance to get hands-on to explore the many worlds and to get an idea of the sort of game that will be available come launch day, and from what I've seen so far, this is set to be the sort of title that will be right up the street of anyone who is a fan of Animal Crossing types of games.
Grow: Song of the Evertree follows the story of one of the last Everheart Alchemists, a person whose job it is to care for the Evertree that towers above their village. It's the Alchemist's job to tend to the tree and the many, many worlds that reside on its branches, but the catch is that unlike the days of yore, the Evertree has faded and its worlds have shrivelled, and it's now your duty to return the tree to its former glory. Doing so will require the player to care for the land, removing weeds, planting seeds, clearing debris, a lot alike what is asked toward the beginning of an Animal Crossing game. By caring for the land you will heal the tree, bringing it, and its worlds, back to life, which will in turn unlock new areas and places to explore and care for.
The gameplay is simple, relaxing and straightforward, and while it does ask you to do a lot of specific jobs, for example planting seeds in particular places, there's also a ton of freedom built in. The majority of the world growing process asks you to simply tend a plot of land, to restore it to a healthy state. You'll be expected to use your tools (axe, mallet, scythe, etc.) to bring the land back to a healthy state, and once this section has been completed, you'll have a variety of quests and challenges to turn in, which reward items that can be used to customise the village, as you also look to build a community within its boundaries.
The reason why doing this is so important is because the more you care for the Evertree, the more opportunities you will get to create World Seeds through an alchemy process, which through a little bit of trial and error will allow you to create unique worlds on the branches of the tree. These could be sprawling deserts, icy tundras, or lush green fields, and It's hard not to see this process as anything but incredible, because 'growing worlds' feels as rewarding as you'd hope it would.
I will say at this point, that if life-sim games aren't your forte, then Grow: Song of the Evertree probably won't be up your street either. Sure, there is quite an array of adventuring that is on offer, which I will get to in a moment, but for the most part, this is a game that is about doing basic life-sim activities such as farming, building, and fishing. So, as you would expect, Grow is quite a slow-paced, and calming experience.
In terms of the adventure part, you can explore various different weird and wonderful worlds, packed with all manners of unusual flora and fauna, to complete challenges and to unlock new goodies. As you can probably guess from the way that Grow seems to be designed at its core, the adventuring and exploration is generally quite basic, and seems to draw you in with its vibrant visuals and bizarre designs, rather than engaging, action-packed gameplay.
And this about sums up my experience with Grow: Song of the Evertree. This is shaping up to be an interesting title, but it's also an experience tailored to players who are looking for a more relaxing, stress free game. You could lose hours in this world, constantly chipping away at the many different tasks and challenges as you restore the Evertree and expand the town. But, with this being said, don't expect broad, enthralling quests that draw you into the narrative and keep you hooked on what is unveiled, because this is not where Grow's strengths lie. Still, if you've just about exhausted Animal Crossing: New Horizons, or have been searching for a new life-sim experience, then it's hard to say that Grow: Song of the Evertree will fail to fill that void for you.