Vote To Play opens today and runs through Monday August 24th 8:30am PT. You can vote for one of three games to be included in September's Playstation Plus Instant Game Collection offerings. Go to the Playstation Plus section of the Playstation Store through your PS4 to vote.
I'm going to vote for Grow Home, which I've been interested in ever since reading Kotaku's review of the PC version:
Ubisoft has an obsession with making climbing fun in games, which I'm totally on-board with. It must be an extension of my continual love for platforming games. There's something about motion and movement that pulls me, whether it's jumping onto a faraway block in Super Mario Bros., sliding under a pipe in Mirror's Edge, or scaling an enormous mountain in Grow Home.
There is a massive difference in approach with Grow Home, though. In Assassin's Creed, parkour movement has become largely automatic. If you want to reach somewhere, the game lets you do so holding down a single button, and the game does all the hard work. This can lead to moments where the character scrambles up the wrong ledge of leaps off the incorrect rooftop, but for the speedy pace of Assassin's Creed, but it beats tapping a button over and over again.
Grow Home is much more methodical, deliberate, and purposeful. The game makes you earn progress. BUD's hands map to the buttons (or triggers) on an controller. It's possible to play Grow Home with a keyboard and mouse but not recommended. This is built for a gamepad. The left bumper locks BUD's left hand into place, while the right bumper does the same for his right hand. In most cases, you can alternate between the two and get moving without much thought, but as you move higher and higher, the game demands more thoughtful placement of hands.
When the game opens, BUD can't do much but climb. Scattered throughout the world are tiny, humming crystals, and if you collect enough of them, BUD gains a new ability. First, it's jumping. Next, it's the option to move the camera way back, providing a much greater view of the world. It's useful for trying to find crystals hanging out in odd spots. I'm not a completionist and typically avoid collectables in video games because most developers haven't made it worthwhile to seek them out. Completing a checklist is not enough motivation to collect yet another object, no matter how shiny it may be. And yet, I'm determined to find everything here.
What makes the difference is the reason you're collecting them. It's meaningful! BUD can pull off cooler moves by finding more crystals, and the crystals themselves are squirreled away in clever places that always feel just slightly out of reach. Just before I turned off the game last night, BUD could now briefly zip around on a jet pack. Hell yeah! I'm comin' for ya, crystals!
More to the point, Grow Home is a game about climbing and the climbing is satisfying. Carefully placing each hand brings me a tiny joy, the story of how you place his left hand and his right hand, and how you desperately grab a nearby ledge when you fumble the next spot. To give BUD more abilities, you'll have to wander into more challenging territory, forcing you to stress over every hand placement. The collecting informs the mechanics and mastery is rewarded.