Growbot Review: The Asteroid Kew Is My Jam

Join Nara in their quest to become a captain in the beautifully illustrated Glowbot - a point and click adventure available now on PC.

Gather round, it’s story time – an interactive one where you’ll not only gawp at the delightful illustrations, but you’ll take control too. There’s no need for an expansive imagination as Growbot the game is the closest you’ll get to a space adventure without being chummy with Bezos.

As Nara, you’re slowly climbing the ranks to become a captain in one of the stations surrounding the asteroid Kew – a place energised by power flowers. Take that, Mario; it’s not all about destruction. Unfortunately, Kew is under attack from one of your kin that has ostensibly gone mad with power. What’s their motivation? Will you attain the promotion? What’s a Growbot?

Fortunately, the creator of this enchanting tale has provided a guidebook for you to refer to. No, not one of those expensive collectables that complement the material, but a built-in crash course in the story surrounding Kew and the Growbots. There’s not whole lore unto itself that would make Tolkien look like a boy scout, but it builds an intriguing picture of where we fit in the story.

Growbot Review
Source: Screen capture

Growbot Review

In summary, Growbots are toy robots sent to Kew as companions to their owners. Without giving it all away, something happened, and they were left behind and forgotten. That’s when the Geologists arrive and breathe new life into these lovable machines, which inadvertently causes further problems.

Nara will find out more about the past to combat their current predicament as Kew and the stations are under attack, so, mouse in hand, you click on points of interest, collect items to combine, and engage in some chinwagging with the locals. It’s a point and click! Yay!

Yes, Growbot is a point and click with a good selection of puzzles. Inventory management is not remotely complicated and instead adopts a drag and drop approach where each object is intuitive and has its place accordingly. When it comes to the challenge, it’ll be the puzzles that will tickle your grey matter, not the wandering around working out what to do next.

Growbot Review - Flour, wheat and maze
Flour, wheat and maze. Source: Screen capture

Music With No Ears

For the bulk of the game, you’re accompanied by Brainapilla – a guide that sits in your dome and is super cute. I seldom use the word as it’s massively overused, but Brainapilla is 可愛い ですよ。 Anytime you get stuck, you can drag them onto an object to know what to do next.

The recurring puzzles in Growbot are the shield keys. You’ll need to locate flowers with an associated key and then place them to match a jingle that gives you access to the next area. That’s a terrible explanation, but it’s essentially a Simon-type mini-game, where the musical notes harmonise with the general vibe and score perfectly.

Other challenges in the game will include a couple of fetch quests and classic maze-like puzzles and shifting around tiles to match the correct symbols. These were particularly satisfying when having that Eureka! moment and work out a rhythm to the puzzle.

Crissy Fit

Rhythm is an appropriate word to use when explaining Growbot as the pace and overall flow of the game is lovely. Point and click and puzzle games generally don’t have a beat to them as it’s down to the individual’s tempo in solving a puzzle and what-not, in a timely manner. Except for one puzzle, Growbot didn’t miss a beat.

Growbot Review - Impossible puzzle
Impossible puzzle. Well, kinda. Source: Screen capture

The puzzle in question was a codebreaking exercise, and I couldn’t crack it. If it weren’t for a solution supplied for said puzzle, I don’t think I would have finished the game as I couldn’t comprehend it – even after completing it. If you’re interested, it’s a late puzzle where you have to rotate numbers after mixing some colours. Each to their own, but it was borderline impossible for me to figure out, despite the hints. Without going into too much into it, I have a numbers/sequence thing. 

Besides that one puzzle and a slightly abrupt, though not disappointing ending, Growbot truly is a beautiful game – and that’s not playing entirely to its visual strengths. Considering that Lisa Evens (Wabisabi Play) is a professional illustrator – you still need a story, and I can confidently say that the narrative delivers. I thought about the right word to use to summarise the overall experience, and as broad a term as it may be, Growbot is lovely.

Moving Pictures

Growbot Review - Musical colours
Musical colours. Source: Screen capture

I’m a big fan of textures, as seen in Dap, and the way they have been implemented here is wonderful. Only occasionally, when we zoom in on the action, it’ll be oh-so-slightly pixelated, breaking the illusion that you aren’t looking at a picture book. The artwork here is that good.

At first, the lack of voices was mildly disappointing. Around the 15 minutes mark, it became apparent that it was the right decision. Adding a voice to the characters is the equivalent of listening to Julia Donaldson recite one of her own books. Not good. As a fan of the infamous storyteller, sometimes you need to reserve a bit for the imagination, and in that context, the silence works great, as do the instrumentals. It’s non-disruptive, kicks in at the right moments and is a little bewitching at times.

Growbot is overall an enchanting story and one that I’ve gone through with my youngest. As an advocate for storytelling, this game worked great when experienced together, but I must stress that this isn’t solely targeted at young children. As a butch alpha (genuinely laughing aloud at this one myself as it’s so far from the truth), I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Nara, and recommend her story to fellow point and click fans who like a focus on puzzles. But what did I really learn from Growbot? I want a Starbelly as a best friend.

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