Grow: Song of the Evertree is a cozy and heartwarming game where players can help bring peace and life back to a world ravaged by darkness. This laid back game has players exploring their current world as well as creating new ones, and each area discovered opens up a variety of opportunities to explore. This relaxing game focuses on exploring and gathering and tending to plants and animals, with no battles or fighting elements to speak of, it lends itself to a more calm and laid-back style of game play.
This story is centered around the Evertree, which is the Tree of Life. After the Ancients created the Evertree, it used the Song of Myora to create worlds which were then given various forms of life.
A group of explorers settled under the branches of the Evertree and used the items created by the song the Evertree produced to extract Essences from them in a process called Alchemy. Many Alchemist Guild Houses thrived, and the most powerful of them all was the Everheart Alchemy House. All beings helped to maintain a balance between their Alchemy and the Song of Myora they consumed to create with, however, it was the beings of the Everheart House who best understood the balance of the relationship between them and the Evertree. Everheart Alchemists understand the importance of only taking from the Song what they need to create, and not overharvesting. Over the years, they became the only House left who continued to practice balance between the Evertree and the Song they consumed to create.
After many generations where most of the beings who needed the Evertree to survive forgot the importance of maintaining a balance, the Evertree allowed The Withering to spread across its branches. The Withering destroyed the connection the beings had with the Song and infested all areas of the tree. The beings living under the branches of the Evertree could not fight against The Withering and abandoned the Evertree to its fate. Only the Everhearts remained, and even they were pushed to the outskirts of society due to maintaining their belief in the importance of balance between them and the Evertree. There is only one remaining member of the line of Alchemists belonging to the great Everheart House.
The story of the Evertree tells the tale of how the tree came to be and begins with the Ancient beings who first planted a seed. There are several twists and turns to the plot as you play through and learn more information about the story of what happened so long ago. The damage done to the tree occurred before the apprentice was born but has had long-range effects to the worlds surrounding it. The writing style of this game is definitely one of its strong points. The story is told alongside beautiful cutscene images that help players become a part of the story. The dialog between characters in the game is often snarky and humorous, and many times I laughed aloud when interacting with NPCs. The writing for this game includes glimpses into the apprentice’s past and their life as a child, which helps the player gain a deeper understanding of the storyline for this game.
The protagonist of the game is the last remaining member of the Everheart Alchemist Guild. Raised on the outskirts of the Evertree’s branches, they are an apprentice to the beings who have raised them since they were a small child; Book, who is the Keeper of Knowledge for all elements of the game, and Coppertop, who is the Cauldron where you extract essences from materials and use those essences to create new Worlds. As the apprentice, players are responsible for exploring the area around home, expanding the towns, as well as creating new worlds among the branches of the Evertree. In the Alchemist’s Cottage players will be able to check in with Book and see which goals or tasks they are currently working towards.
When setting up the avatar, players have the option to choose between male, female, or nonbinary gender options, and can customize the character with a variety of body types, including plus sized. There are a variety of hair and eye colors available, though not much of a variety of clothing at first. In playing through the game, players will unlock more options to customize the character’s clothing and features.
Exploring Underneath the Evertree
Players will spend exploring the areas around the little cottage as well as on the worlds they will create the majority of the time. It’s a huge part of the gameplay, and the more players explore the area, the more of the map plays will be able to unlock. Each new area has additional towns to build and tasks to complete. There’s no need to worry about combat as players wander the hills and valleys and getting to explore the open world game is one of the most relaxing aspects of this cozy style game. Soft instrumental music plays when exploring the areas, and players will be able to find special hidden areas that help unlock new rewards.
The world underneath the Evertree is a beautiful place to explore. There are many soft, pastel colors to the flora and fauna of the area. There will be small plants and rocks to be picked up, as well as colorful bugs and fish to be caught, all of which can be used to create more Essence.
The beings interacted with and complete tasks for will also help the storyline progress. Taking the time to stop and chat with the characters encountered ensures players don’t miss out on collecting items and finding new locations. The buildings that players place in town can also help the storyline progress. Various NPCs will show up after placing certain buildings.
The protagonist’s avatar can move about freely as players explore, however, there are limitations to what actions can be done. Players can run slowly and jump, and if running and jumping at the same time it’s a bit like skipping or prancing along. The protagonist cannot climb unless there is a ladder, but if a rock is low enough, they can hop up onto it. Something very important to remember is that player avatars cannot swim. They can walk through shallow water but if too deep, the avatar will drown. They will respawn on the shoreline near the spot they went into the water.
As soon as the protagonist leaves the Alchemist’s House for the first time, they will meet your monster companion. This fluffy friend will be the mode of transportation between the branches of the Evertree and the ground on which it lived. Players get to name this creature and should REALLY interact with it each day. Not only does doing so unlock various selfie poses, but something completely adorable happens eventually as well!
Exploring the area around the cottage allows players to find new ways to defeat The Withering and open up new locations on the map. Most of this game involves exploring and doing so underneath the Evertree helps to clear more room for new towns as well as help the Evertree regain its good health. Expect to meet many interesting beings along the way and many of them will help to bring life back to the Evertree.
There is so much area to explore underneath the branches of the Evertree. The protagonist will open up many new buildings and encourage new beings to move into the towns they create. Players will be responsible for creating towns that match the needs of the beings they invite to move in, as well as for making sure they are able to perform their dream jobs. Players will also need to work towards completing goals and tasks for each town created.
Building the Towns
The protagonist lives in a village called Alaria, located underneath the branches of the Evertree. Players get to decide which beings can move into the towns they create by interacting with them during their visits. Players are also the ones to decide which buildings will be placed and where, and the more worlds explored, the more blueprints to other buildings will be unlocked. Once a building has been placed, players then have options to design the outside of each one. This includes choosing the color of the roof and walls, as well as adding decorations or flowers. These are all items found when exploring and gathering materials. Players can even add a critter house to the homes they build and adopt critters as they’re exploring the worlds they create from the world seeds.
Something that is frustrating is the lack of ability to easily bring up a map to see the area. There is a way to do so, shown above, while building up towns, however, when out exploring the area around the town limits, there is no way to bring up a map. This makes it difficult to know which areas have already been explored and which haven’t, not to mention where players are in relation to their cottage and bed.
In each town area created, visitors from other worlds will stop by to explore. Some will want to move in. They can then be assigned to one of the houses in the town. The new residents will also share their dream jobs, and players can assign them to the various shops and other buildings of the town. These residents also request players to complete tasks for them and will reward players upon successful completion.
There are various goals to reach in one town before players can unlock the area for another town. In each town, players can design the outside of the buildings to a certain extent. These goals include things like moving in a certain number of residents and having a certain number of decorative items in each town, as well as locating and unlocking the various secret areas around those towns. Each time players complete a specific town area goal, players work towards completing that town at 100%. While not necessary to move on to another town area, fully completing each town will allow players to gain the most rewards and unlock the most areas.
Decorating the town area involves placing various items like plants and fences, as well as putting down paths. There are already some paths laid down in each area when on arrival, and players can add to those should they wish. Laying down paths is easy, but aesthetically falls short when trying to set them near the main plaza square and sometimes to a solid path, leaving behind small cracks and grass.
Branches of the Evertree
When ready to extract essences from the materials gathered, the protagonist will be able to do that in their cottage. Coppertop will extract the essences from any item possessed, including items players could use to decorate the town or even customize their avatar. These items will disappear upon extracting their essence. When enough essence has been extracted, players will be able to use that essence to create World Seeds. Those seeds are then planted and cared for to bloom into new worlds that thrive with life.
Once players have extracted enough essence to create a World Seed, they will be able to plant the seed among the branches of the Evertree. Daily care of the growing world will help it to bloom into a thriving world full of unique plants and animals. It is from this wide variety of flora and fauna that players will gather even more items to extract essences to create a wider variety of World Seeds. Each world created is based on the type of essence used when creating it, and each one is different.
Players can have up to 7 worlds growing at once. These worlds must be cared for during several in-game days to make them bloom. Each day players will need to travel to whichever worlds have been created. Once there, players will be able to use tools to cultivate each world. Pulling weeds, smashing rocks, picking flowers, and helping critters are some of the tasks each world needs to have completed. Swapping between these tools is convenient. What isn’t is the unusual gap between the user and the interaction point.
There is definitely a repetition of the daily tasks of cultivating the worlds, but the game does a good job at providing a variety of plants to grow or critters to interact with. These items will have different names and different appearances, depending on the style of world created. While players will pull, chop, smash, catch, plant, and water the same way in each world they create, the items gathered from such actions are different. Each world has its own style, and the materials and animals found in them will contain Essences that match the respective style. These materials and items will appear differently from world to world, and the fruits and flowers gathered will fall into categories from Common to Rare.
Exploring the worlds for animals to befriend is such a fun part of this game, especially since players can eventually adopt them and reap the reward of taking pictures in various poses with them. While required to interact with the same animal on multiple in-game days in order to create a complete bond, there is more than one type of the same animal in each world. The animals stay in their general territories but do wander around some. There is no way to check a map to determine which animals players have already interacted with. The only way to know is to find the animal and approach it, which will show the bond as a circle gauge icon. It would be a nice improvement if there were some way to keep track of the animals that have already been interacted with on a map or with a pin such that players can continue to increase their bond with that animal.
While gathering materials and befriending animals, players can also find hidden locations that need to be explored. There will often be a cave or den of some sort on the worlds that spawn from the World Seeds planted and exploring these areas can gain fun items to customize the town or the avatar. In addition to the hidden areas to be found, there are also various types of puzzles scattered throughout the worlds that spawn. The puzzles vary in difficulty, and they are repetitious, similar to when seeking Korok seeds in Breath of the Wild. Each successfully solved puzzle gains rewards of materials and items that can be used to customize.
Since the worlds created match the types of Essence used when creating the World Seeds, each world will spawn with a mixture of those characteristics. While the way players explore and care for these worlds is the same, the things to be experienced in each one are as unique as the Essences used to create it. Players can never know what they might find when exploring the worlds that rest among the branches of the Evertree!
The camera feature in this game is an extensive one. Once taking a pic, there are many options for editing and creating fun poses. Players will be able to move the camera around to many angles after taking the pic, as well as to change the time of day which affects the lighting. Players will also be able to choose various avatar poses, including ones where they can interact with the various critters befriended. Many features allow players to edit the photos taken in game, and it’s a fun way to record the adventure.
While the camera does provide many angles when editing, the controls can be challenging to use effectively without getting lost in the viewfinder. Changing angles can often result in suddenly looking inside of a nearby boulder or tree and can be hard to get back to the original view.
The graphics in this game are soft and soothing, with various shades of earth tones and pastels. There are a wide variety of beings that are a part of this game, and each of them has distinct graphics that set them apart from each other. The developers have done a good job of using the graphics to help portray the feelings of the characters and watching the angry ones stomp around always gives me a chuckle. The graphics are beautiful and make for a very pleasant viewing experience.
There are no distinct songs that stand out as being memorable. The music is soft and for the most part instrumental. It does a good job of setting the tone of a laid-back game and is pretty to have playing softly as you are exploring different areas of the game. The music is a great fit for the style of game and the vibe while playing.
Grow: Song of the Evertree is a relaxed, laid-back game that allows playing through at each’s own pace. The more players explore and create, the more to be unlocked and discovered. There are many worlds to explore and connections to make with various NPCs. The backstory that plays when progressing through is beautiful and well-written, telling a poignant story with a central moral that points out the importance of not taking more from the world than it can give. The dialog is humorous and engaging, and the characters are interesting to get to know. Gamers of all ages and abilities will enjoy spending hours exploring and tending to the worlds they create in this non-competitive game.
Grow: Song of the Evertree gets a 9/10.