Genre:  Adventure   

Developer & Publisher:  Wabisabi Play; Application Systems Heidelberg             

Released: October 21, 2021               

Requirements: Windows 7, SP 1 and above

Processor:  1.2 Ghtz

Memory:  4 GB RAM

Graphics:  1024 MB VRAM, DirectX 11

Storage:  5 GB storage







By flotsam



Wabisabi Play

I know what you’re thinking – what on Earth is a growbot? – and well you may ask.

Helpfully, you get to be one here, name of Nara and not at all on Earth, and about half a dozen hours later you will be well versed on the subject.

More helpfully (maybe), Nara has made her way from her home asteroid to an orbiting space station, to continue her training to become a captain. A routine assignment, until it isn’t, whereby the other growbots have disappeared and the station is beset by a “dark crystalline force.”  From that point on its up to Nara to save more than just the day.

She is both resourceful and tenacious, as well as obliging and engaging, all of which will stand her in good stead in her endeavours. An array of critters large and small are to be found, all playing their part in moving things along. The Brainapilla has a particularly important role to play. A guidebook you find early on will give you a thorough head start on all things to do with the station and its occupants, as well as the growbots and their history.

The station itself is a 2D hand-drawn visual joy.  Like a greenhouse in space, it's literally a blooming place of flowers and colours and living things, giving “flower power” a whole new meaning. Dark here, light there, bringing things back to normal “life” is a recurring activity. It looks as whimsical as it can feel, accentuated by the design of the various screens and how it utilises the space.

Nara presses on, accompanied by an eclectically excellent musical score and the chittering gobbledygook of the other characters. By which you might infer that everything is read, there being no spoken word, and you would be correct.

The sound palette is not limited to the environment, being part and parcel of quite a bit of the puzzling. Early on you will obtain a flower arranger, a device by which you assemble the flower notes you find to play the relevant tune to create “shields.”  Think of them as keys that are essential to overcome the obstacle in front of you.

The tunes you have to replicate are simple at first, but increase in complexity as the game goes on.  I don’t recall one with more than 6 notes, and you can replay them over and over, as well as the individual notes themselves, as you piece together the appropriate solution. While I am not a huge fan of music puzzles I quite liked these. Plus there is a hint button, (really a solution button), so stuckness is not a serious likelihood.  I did resort to it in a later more elaborate tuneful puzzle, but just the fact that it was there was a comfort as I played.

Puzzling though is more than tunes, and while one or two could have done with a little more explanation, on the whole I thought the game offered up a rather satisfying mix. Some straight out puzzles, others incorporating items you find, still others just being, eg, find and give the drum to the drumming creature. Your inventory will consists of things you keep to use again, arranged down the left side of the screen, and things that you use once and consume, arranged down the right. Click and drag to use them wherever.

The game is completely point and click, which I know many players like but which made one puzzle in particular way too fiddly and more difficult as a result. Perhaps it was just me, and/or perhaps it was the way the point and clicked worked within the puzzle, not the input itself, but I do think there are some sorts of puzzles that don’t really work with a particular interface.

But it was a minor blip, one of the very few. Maybe the strength of the underlying story is another, but I liked the “world” of growbot much more than the why and what of Nara’s quest, so that might depend upon you.  Regardless, it was well paced, and suited to the whole.

You can save at will, and the game saves for you as well.  Some screens might slide up and down, and arrows will indicate where Nara can exit the scene.  The curser will be red over an active hotspot, and press the space bar to highlight them should you wish to.  Click another character and maybe a conversation will ensue, driven by your choice of topics from a small number of possibilities.  As always, using them all is a good idea.

I confess I was rather captivated by Growbot. If you like games like Machinarium and Botanicula, you might be too.

I played on:

OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit

Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz

RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB

Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB



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