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Sending forest animals to reclaim the land in Growth is my dream come true

Let me tell you about the boars and the bees

Image credit: Assemble Entertainment

It's no secret that I love Dorfromantik. It opened my eyes to the world of tile-based puzzler strategy games, and I've looked out for similar ones ever since. Thankfully for me, there's been a fair few riffs on Dorformantik's formula recently - a focus on nature, a soothing soundtrack, and some good old puzzling. Growth is one of these, and I'm hooked on the demo that's playable as part of Steam Next Fest. Taking place on a hexagonal grid, the aim is to uncover the map using a range of wildlife, fertilising the land in the process. Each tile you reveal gives you points, and you'll have to navigate around mountains, water, and special landmarks.

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Exploration is aided by the colour of tiles, which start out as grey, as they change over the course of the game. Unfertile land is a dark yellow, while you can tell if forest clusters are nearby thanks to light green tiles. You start out with a small forest in the middle of the map, and then it's up to you to decide where to expand to next. Different animals have different ranges and can traverse different terrains - bees can fly over water, while boars can travel further on land than anything else.

There's a beautiful satisfaction in watching the map slowly flip from dull grey to bright yellows, blues and greens. Although maps have some clusters already hidden for you to find, you can completely ignore them and make a forest or flower garden wherever you want. So long as there's an empty patch of land for you to build it, you can. And as long as you keep exploring, you'll keep gaining animals to map out more tiles.

It's relatively stress-free, as the only way of failing is if you run out of animals. I ran into this problem a couple of times during my first attempts, mostly because I wasn't paying attention to the colours. It reminds me of Civilization almost, when you send out your scout at the beginning of the game and hope to find a good spot to settle your city. Except there's no other factions I have to deal with. No wars or barbarians, just me and my trees.

Currently, the demo ends after you uncover two massive hexagon grids. And I wish it didn't! I want to fill up the whole space with bees and flowers and deer. The full game promises more animals, tile types, and points of interest. I hope the devs also consider an endless mode with increasing difficulty that I can whittle away the hours with.

Growth is currently listed as coming soon on Steam, and you can play the demo now.

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