Grow: Song of the Evertree, a review of an ambitious game between Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley



Here is our review of Grow: Song of the Evertree, an ambitious video game that sits between Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley.

The exchange of influences within the world of video games is constant and the contamination of ideas, mechanics and atmospheres between different productions is a fundamental part of the creative process of every developer. Many games can be approached because of substantially coinciding characteristics, at least on paper. However, the identity value of a game over a hundred others is given by the way in which these elements are combined, merged into a single amalgam capable of standing out from the competition (or rather, from the rest of the available offer).

This is one of the issues that made us think more while trying to identify the nature of Grow: Song of the Evertree. We found a bit of everything in it: from great titles like Animal Crossing, to others perhaps less impressive like Stardew Valley, to a whole series of management games and city builders (we even saw a game that most will have forgotten, the Toy Story 3 tie-in, specifically in its “Toy Box” mode).

Let’s see if the title developed by Prideful Sloth and published by 505 Games managed to find its own identity in this review of Grow: Song of the Evertree.

The classic fairy tale narrative

Grow: Song of the Evertree: we are an alchemist, the only one able to save the Eternal Tree

Grow: Song of the Evertree bases its narrative roots in the most popular and, often, overused fantasy. In an imaginary universe lost in the folds of time, an obscure and evil evil, the Evertree, has struck the Eternal Tree, a huge plant that can hold entire worlds on its branches. At the base of the Eternal Tree, a long time ago, there was a large community, but the disease that has struck the tree has forced the inhabitants to abandon their homes.

We impersonate an alchemist, the only one capable of understanding the needs of the Eternal Tree. Our task is to eradicate evil from the land of our ancestors and liberate the heart of the mammoth plant of life.

An incipit, this one, which now smacks of stale, but which is still functional to tell those particular types of stories that are not overly complicated and able to immediately involve children. Do not expect an intricate story or full of twists and turns. What you will find is a concise and direct narrative, which focuses on expressive simplicity, performing its task honestly, without infamy and without praise.

A management nature

Grow: Song of the Evertree: fishing is one of the activities we can carry out in the game

The first contact with the game immediately brings to mind a parallel with Animal Crossing. Between watering cans, fishing rods, axes and nets to catch insects (with lots of sneaky approach), the first hours of the game seem the copy (not necessarily macchietistica) of the successful series of Nintendo. However, the game then has a way to redeem its independence when you realize a more pronounced management complexity not only of their resources, but the world that you are to save by strokes of harmonious songs and maximizing the harvest.

Grow: Song of the Evertree is divided into two distinct sections: on one side we find the thriving city that we have to rebuild, on the other side the branches on which we have the task of planting new worlds through magical seeds. The management of the village has the traits of a city builder, with the possibility of constructing new buildings, decorating every corner of the available space and managing both the residence and the work occupation of the inhabitants. The more the passions and interests of the citizens match the jobs assigned to them, the happier they will be: the better their happiness, the greater our gain (in game currency) at the beginning of each day. The goal is to expand the city until all seven districts are freed from the clutches of withering.

Grow: Song of the Evertree: we can rebuild the city at the foot of the Tree in the way we prefer

The branches of the tree, on the other hand, are a bit like our personal garden. Here we must clean up the area and cultivate new plants, so as to bring back the specific fauna of that natural habitat, determined by the elemental combination of the seed of origin, which we have the possibility of composing in our laboratory with the various “essences” (obtained by taking care of our “garden”, or thanks to the completion of objectives). As we succeed in freeing the heart of the Eternal from the Beginning, the tree will return to grow, providing more and more spaces to “terraform”. Once we reach the potential limit of the small micro-world created, we can choose whether to eliminate it and make room for a new biome, or to continue to obtain resources from it (thanks also to the help of some small workers from the Eternicus community, the first inhabitants of the Eternal Tree).

If the management of the city manages to convince, the mechanics of the worlds is very repetitive, since we find ourselves to perform virtually the same actions, day after day (eradicate the weed, plant the seed, water the shoots, tame the creatures, catch insects and so on). A repetitiveness that we found (in a much less invasive and unnerving, it must be said) also in the diary of objectives to be completed and in the missions that are assigned to us by fellow citizens. In essence, the variety is more a visual ornament than a real basis of the individual macro gameplay that make up the game.

How many video games in a single video game?

Grow: Song of the Evertree: the game presents different game situations, but the link between them is very weak

When you start to feel the weight of some repetitive actions, you’ll be quite stunned, because anyway Grow: Song of the Evertree presents a certain variety in the presentation of the game world (mostly derivative). We have caves to explore, puzzles to solve, platforming sequences, chests to open, alchemical recipes to prepare, structures to customize, not to mention the aforementioned management forms. In short, there is a bit of everything. But a variety in the game structure does not imply a variety in the situations that we are actually to experience.

The title seems separated into watertight compartments, completely separated from each other. Each section works, in its own way, but lacks that binder capable of uniting so many different and, often, discordant elements.

PC System Requirements

Test Configuration

  • Operating System: Windows 11
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-10700
  • Memory: 16GB RAM
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070

Minimum Requirements

  • Operating System: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2300 or AMD FX-4350
  • Memory: 4GB RAM
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450, 1 GB or AMD Radeon R7 240, 1 GB
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Memory: 4 GB of available space
  • Memory: 4 GB of available space

Recommended Requirements

  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-7700K or AMD Ryzen 5 3600X
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760, 2 GB or AMD Radeon HD 7870, 2 GB

The deception of the overall impact

Grow: Song of the Evertree: graphically the title is quite pleasant, if you don't get too close to the game elements

Technically, Grow: Song of the Evertree, has its strong points. At least when you look at it from a distance. In fact, the title is graphically quite effective when you have an overview of the game world. Walking through your city, with the imposing structures that make it up, perhaps at the crack of dawn and with giant creatures moving on the horizon, is certainly fascinating. However, as soon as they begin to emerge all those directorial choices that lead the game room to get too close to environments and characters, here come the visual defects.

This result is given by a certain roughness of the models, compensated (mainly on the distance) by a good quality of the textures. This fluctuating technical invoice can be found in the realization of the animations, excessively rough, as well as in the management of lighting, overall functional, but sometimes really unbalanced and poorly edited.

Grow: Song of the Evertree: the winged creature that allows us to travel quickly

One thing on which, however, we have nothing to say is the soundtrack, as derivative as you want, but extremely effective and perfectly suited to the spirit of the game, obviously divided between East and West. Definitely appreciated also the Italian localization, with a very varied and appropriate terminology (despite some “accident of the way” during the implementation of the texts within the game).

Comment

Grow: Song of the Evertree is a recipe full of quality ingredients, if taken individually, but that fail to find a real binder when mixed in the same cauldron. The ambition of the title and the basic idea did not find an excellent result in the implementation of the project. And yet, why did it manage to capture us the entire time we had the chance to try it out? It may be because it is a game system that particularly suits our tastes or for the charm “screen” of the game world, but there is no doubt that, despite the repetitiveness of certain actions and situations, managed to keep us glued to the screen. In its infinite smears we found a particular quiet, able to relax and alienate just enough to clean up one of the worlds or expand a little ‘more our community. Moreover, we didn’t miss the game’s target audience, clearly aimed at a fairly young gamer, who uses video games a bit like we used to use toys: creating stories and giving space for creativity. As we explored this world, which seemed to us to have already seen countless times, we found those sensations, those enchanted and timeless atmospheres that characterized our childhood entertainment. We too became children again, just for a few hours.

PRO

  • Good management component
  • Pleasant overall impact
  • Able to entertain for several hours
  • Little synergy between game components
  • Often repetitive
  • Technically unrefined
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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