A while back on Act Casual, we featured a little title called Grow Cube, by developer “On” at EyeMaze. The game was simple to play: Click the ten boxes in an order of your choosing, and observe the results and how your selections interplay with your previous selections. Rather simple, but fun in its own way. It’s a pretty straightforwardly casual title.
Now we bring you a new game, also by On: Grow Valley. In many ways, it’s the same game: Click the seven buttons in the order of your choosing. Watch as the results unfold. Try again with a new order. The mechanics aren’t very complicated, but the interplay between each of the seven options is interesting and the feedback can be fun to observe. You could sit down with a notepad and some free time to figure out the optimal order if you’d like, I suppose.
And at this point, given that description, you might be wondering why I’d feature this at all. It’s not just that this is a nice refinement on the Grow series, mere quantum leap though it may be. So here it is: On has added a more intelligible theme to the possible actions in this and the most recent predecessor, Grow Island. Namely, the new idea isn’t just wacky actions interacting, but now themed actions based on a university curriculum in science and engineering. Previous ones were fun, but a bit too “wacky” for me, in a way that conjured feelings of cat-hair mustaches. And Grow Valley’s refinement of that theme actually makes you think about the possibilities in specialized departments working together, rather than making you think about whether the pot and the bricks will somehow work together to make your Grow Tower even taller.
If you do come up with the optimal solution or another interesting combination (There's at least one Easter egg.), let us know! We could discuss whether it seems a worthwhile model of a curriculum, and whether the dynamic between options makes sense to you.
Why you should play this: The Grow series is growing up, becoming more than a fun time waster and now encouraging players to think about how groups can work together. Sure, this isn’t a new theme—especially not in the context of Japanese media—but it’s a respectable theme and a nice step forward for the series.
IndieCade Side note: Be sure to check out the recently released list of the 32 IndieCade 2010 Finalists. You may notice a few familiar titles!