When a free to play title is done well it can be very entertaining and rewarding. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, the micro-transactions are pushed too heavily, progression is stunted and you feel you have to spend some money to have any fun. I know the developers need to be paid but there are right and wrong ways to go about it. Games like Warframe are very entertaining, rewarding and you don’t feel the need to throw down any of your hard-earned cash.
Growtopia, as the title suggests, is about growing things and building. It’s an online massively multiplayer game that shares features and systems with games like Minecraft and Terraria. You can build, break down and move tiles around your own world and create to your heart’s content.
Your free to join other players in their worlds or if you happen to be that kind of player, make your own and play in complete solitude. Where this game differs from others in the genre though is in its splicing mechanisms. You don’t craft anything per se, you mix seeds together and gro items. It’s a weird system but as you are told at the start of the game; “Here in Growtopia everything grows on trees.”
Grow, Grow, Grow Your Boat
Seriously, if there is a boat in Growtopia you would have to grow it on a tree. You gain seeds from various places, destroying blocks, harvesting trees or even by buying them from the shop. If you plant a seed you can then splice another seed with it to create something completely new. I created a toilet tree, a lava tree and even grew a painting tree. It’s all very odd really. Once the tree has grown, which can take a differing amount of time depending on its rarity and type, you’re free to punch it to bits and harvest its items. I would have preferred a traditional crafting system but I suppose that is what makes Growtopia different.
At the start of Growtopia you are given the standard short tutorial, it takes you through the basics of growing, building and using the games features and systems. After that, you are left to create your own little place to call home, join a Ubisoft created starter world or join your friends online. At this point I was a bit lost as to what to do with myself, fortunately, you have a book in your inventory that took you through another more advanced tutorial.
This tutorial, along with the starter world gave me enough of a guide as to what to do next. The starter world, which was full of other players is split into different zones which outlined what can be done in Growtopia and its basic feature set.
There is a massive amount of different seeds, upgrades, clothing and items to grow or buy. The currency in Growtopia is gems, which are gained from multiple sources and are used in the games extensive store. There is a nice daily boost for PlayStation Plus players which helps a lot but I never felt like I had to spend any cash to progress and things did seem to be priced reasonably. I did not have micro-transactions constantly thrown in my face and I did not feel the need to spend cash to enjoy the game at all. Unfortunately, my issues with this free to play title lay elsewhere.
It’s All A Bit Basic
My issues with Growtopia are numerous but it’s mainly the fact that the gameplay gets old way too quickly. If it wasn’t for the fact that my boys were enjoying it and I was playing online with them, I would have deleted it within the first hour or so. There are just far better games within the genre that do everything better and with far higher presentation values. I know Growtopia is free but it’s very rough around the edges, light on content and very repetitive. I can see why my boys like it though. It’s free, easy to play and they can join their friends in a bit of collaborative growing.
There are some hidden features bubbling under the surface, like surgery, events and a few other features. In my opinion, it’s not enough to keep me interested, invested and want to carry on playing. The poor presentation and lack of rewarding gameplay just make me want to go and play something else. There are far more interesting and likeable games out there, even within the same genre. I’m sure there are people who are really interested in it, including my boys. I’m afraid it’s just not for me.
Even the graphics are a bit on the coarse side. It looks like a flash game from the early days of flash browser games and it’s not very pleasing on the eye at all. The animation is also quite poor, very minimal and the punching animation especially is quite off putting. I love pixel art but this pixel art is some of the worst I have seen. The whole presentation is quite rough quite honestly.
Even the UI and shop front are poorly rendered and not very pleasing to look at. The music is the same really, basic, simple and forgettable. The sound design is nearly non-existent. There is zero voice acting, very few sound effects and what is there gets repetitive and starts to grate on your ears after a few hours.
If this had been a video game that costs money I would be very disappointed. As it stands, it’s free and I can’t complain too much really. My boys liked it and I had a small amount of fun messing around online with them, growing weird trees and building worlds. Apart from that though I just found it a very shallow game that is far inferior to other games in the genre.
The only people I can recommend this title to are people that want to play a world-building game and have no money to spend. Otherwise, buy something like Minecraft or Terraria instead. You will have far more fun and have more to do with your time within the game. I just found the whole experience superficial and unrewarding. Growtopia? Grow home more like.
Growtopia is out now on PS4 and is developed and published by Winking Entertainment.
Review code kindly provided by the publisher