I’ve spent several hours and am on my third life in the new “child raising” sim game, Growing Up, available now via Steam. This game reminds me a great deal of Chinese Parents. Both games use a “brain map” type of setup to unlock skills. Both continue on forever as each life ends and a new life begins. Both have you balance your mental health and parent’s satisfaction. Both games involve dating and friendships and schoolwork and exams. Yes both games are incredibly similar. It’s hard to believe that they are different games or by different developers… but you know, Great minds think alike!
Both games, to somewhat of a lesser degree remind me of Princess Maker (but Princess Maker is much better than both of these games.) And also somewhat similar to Ciel Fledge. Another child raising simulation is Little One. I have played all of these.
So if you like any of those games, check out the others on my blog too.
For me, I think child raising games might be one of my favorite game genres. They’re so unique… and so many possibilities and high replay value – and well they’re strange and fascinating.
Ok but back to “Growing Up” – In this latest child rearing simulation, you can either select your gender and parents at the beginning of your first playthrough or leave it up to fate. I selected my stuff. On subsequent playthroughs it’s always left up to fate (well fate and your choices on the previous playthrough.)
On my most recent playthrough I had two girls fighting for my love and attention. One was a childhood tomboy friend and the other a preppy popular cheerleader I just recently met in highschool. They couldn’t have been more different. I went with the childhood friend, it just felt like the right thing to do. The pretty girl, was well prettier of course. Especially at the “adult” age. Damn my wife is ugly as a mudboard fence, not gonna lie lol. That cheerleader’s looking pretty good right now. The childhood friend was kinda attractive, even as a teenager, long brown hair, and a charming smile. Then she cuts it off almost into a buzzcut and – uhh lets just say she did not age well… at all.
I also have a bit of a problem with how “woke” this game is. Why must EVERY thing be about race…. I’m sick of it. I’m not racist. I’m in a real life biracial marriage, and hopefully someday will have real life children (biracial or maybe adopted maybe a completely different third race lol). I am SICK AND TIRED of all this political bullshit. Yes, I’m sorry the majority of the world are complete fucking assholes and that they treat people of different races poorly. But we get enough of that shit in real life. I play games to escape that shit.
I appreciate you wanting to make a game focused on inclusivity – lots of different races, a girl with one arm, lesbian and gay romance options – cool, awesome. But I think there’s a better MORE POSITIVE way to encourage acceptance instead of have the black one armed girl complain about “mean white girls” – REALLY? you REALLY went there? As if to say all white girls are rich or racist or stuck up. WHY MENTION THEY’RE WHITE. Why not just “Mean girls” Why “Mean WHITE girls?”
They had plenty of reason to tease/bully her – she had ONE ARM for fucks sake. Why make it about skin color. I just don’t get it. In addition to one arm, she was a fucking recluse, she was obsessed with horror and cultish shit and avoided people. ALL reasons someone would get teased in middle and high school. But nope, you decided that the only reason they’d tease her is because she’s black and they’re white. Really? I’m pretty sure at THAT AGE, that there would be plenty of black and brown and asian girls teasing her too because of her fake arm and reclusive antisocial behaivour, not just because of her SKIN COLOR. Let’s just STOP MAKING EVERYTHING ABOUT RACE?! OK?
Fucking face palm. I am sick and tired of this political shit being shoved down my fucking throat. We get it OK? Blacks (and browns and asians and indigenous people and every other fucking whatever race you are) have it harder than white people. White people have a privilege. Never said we didn’t. But jesus fucking christ. I didn’t ask to be born white. I can’t help being white anymore than you can help being whatever race you are. Stop making me feel “bad” just for being born white. That’s fucking bullshit.
They say reverse racism doesn’t exist, but yet here we are in a world with media, popculutre, video games, portraying white as “bad” “mean girls” “white mean girls” (direct quote there) and black as good, black as victim or hero, and white as a villain. Knock that shit off already. There’s good and bad people of every fucking race.
There end rant.
Sorry but it needed to be said, I’m not the only one sick of this whole “woke shit”. It needs to go away. It’s not the right way to deal with racial diversity and adversity. Making one race feel bad to make another race feel good is never the right answer, no matter what races are in that equation.
Back to the game itself…
The game is a lot of fun – but it does ultimately get repetitive. I’m not tired of it yet – but I would have liked even more choices/options/opportunities for interaction sequences, choices and consequences, and so on.
But at its heart it’s a fun and challenging game.
Like all the child raising simulation games before it, you start with a baby and your options are limited. As the child grows, new options, new skills, new friends, and new romances are unlocked, and at the end, you find out what career your baby has pursued and also whatever happened to the friends and romances along the way.
One of the biggest reasons it gets repetitive is the parents expectations and parents dialougue choices and sequences, they are VERY repetitive, not enough different parent/child interaction – AND if I’m playing the PARENT, I feel like I should have some options on how to interact with my child. In this case it almost feels more like I’m playing the child, instead of raising one.
Once you start school and meet new friends and so on, that’s when the story gets interesting – it can even get emotional and deal with some heavy topics.
The characters are very well fleshed out – each one is unique and has an interesting personality. These are no Mary Janes. They have flaws and things that make you dislike them honestly – but that makes them more real. My first playthrough, my love interest had autism or aspergers or something similar making them hate physical interaction and be very socially awkward. In that same playthrough I met the one armed girl who aside from angering me with the political racial issues, was actually a very interesting character, a rebel, and a sorta “badass” sassy girl. On that playthrough I also met a stoner punk rock girl who was adopted and seeking her birth parents even though she had a loving family already. Very complicated characters and relationships.
On my next playthrough I was born as a boy and had a tomboy female best friend, and later met a cheerleader whose brother was sick and dying and who herself was anorexic or bulemic. I also had a male best friend who was blaming himself for his parents divorce and caught in the middle of toxic fighting parents arguing over custody.
I mean these are all some really deep and interesting issues. It’s nice to see a game with characters that feel Real in that sense.
Gameplay, as I said, you work on a grid, unlocking “bubbles” for stat boosts until your energy runs out. You can buy items to increase your energy cap. You balance your happiness (extracurricular) with parents expectations (education). You interact with characters and dialougue prompts to make key choices to drive the story in various directions. You date, fall in love, and have a child – and the journey continues, on and on – forever.
For that reason, replay value is through the roof – possibilities nearly endless – and hopefully maybe we’ll see even more choices in the form of DLC in the future.
Here’s my score:
Overall: 54/70 77% C+ “Good Game For Girls”
Geeky: 2/5 – Gameplay is slow and can get repetitive. Graphics are still and although detailed, do feel dated. Only play this if you like child rearing sims (which I do, so it’s all good).
Sweetie: 4/5 – This would be 5/5 if it got rid of the racial “wokeness” – and added a few more diverse options for interacting with the parents.
Gameplay: 5/10 – There isn’t much gameplay wise honestly, but that’s not why we play these games. There are a lot of skills and places and locations and even some dressup options – so really, for THIS TYPE OF GAME – Gameplay is really good, honestly.
Story: 8/10 – I’d give it 10/10 if it got rid of the political “wokeness” – and added a few more different parent dialougue sequences
Graphics: 6/10 – I’m over these “static” graphics. Don’t they know about “Live 2D” – you can do 2D graphics and have them fully animated. If free mobile games are doing this – why aren’t ALL games doing this? But the graphics aren’t bad – They’re colorful. The backgrounds are especially crazy detailed, and the children and adult portraits are nice. No complaints. It’s not MY style (I prefer anime style over western style) – but I’m not gonna deduct points for that as it’s a preference.
Characters: 9/10 – minus 1 for being too politically “correct” – or “wrong” if you ask me. Otherwise, as mentioned, these characters are very real and troubled and have some realistic issues going on. Still waters run deep.
Music: 10/10 – Honeslty, 10/10 – I love the music. It’s so great and catchy and it gets stuck in my head. Love love love that most of it is vocal tracks. My favorite one is the one that goes “Don’t you love these rainy days?”.
Voice Acting: N/A – would have been nice I think.
Replay Value: 10/10 – Endless possibilities.