There is no competition, there is no worry, there is only your task at hand, to Climb and the Grow.
Samu, the Zen practice of physical work, through doing, being present and in the moment, leading to an enlightened Zen state. Grow Home embodies this perfectly. Grow Home is the latest in Experimental Games from Ubisoft following Child of Light, and has you with the only real goal of growing a giant plant by plugging its seeds into the floating rocks with glowing Zelda beacons by climbing up the plant and riding the seed to implantation.
The vistas are gorgeous, the colors vibrant and the task simple and satisfying. But the real joy of Grow Home is the act of doing, of living only in that moment.
Mushin, the state of No-Mind, where your thoughts are free of anger and fear and ego.
You only have one goal, to grow your plant, and only one action, to climb. You can lose you thoughts easily by falling into the flow of only having this goal in mind, but unlike many games, you aren’t constantly pushed towards achieving this goal. In fact, there is no forced impetus because there is no deadline to actually achieve anything, leaving you free to explore and play and move about at the whims of your fingers, not being constricted by a timestamp that you must fulfil.
This is a game about doing a single particular task, much like other single-task games Minecraft or Katamari. You only have one goal in mind, chop things, dig things and build things; or roll my ball up to as large as possible, collect all dat clutter, roll up my heart. And the end goal for all of these is immensly satisfying. Looking back at the monuments that you’ve built, all of the clutter that you’re rolled up and the stars created from it, or the gazing upon the gargantuan size of your planet draining plant creature that you’ve grown. Looking back on what you did during Mushin and seeing the transformation of your work across instances of time is a gratification that harkens back to most everyones Lego-building childhoods. Putting all of our focus on every tiny little piece and only having small goals in mind, what piece do I need now and where does it go. It’s only when you reach the end that you can look back on your creation and feel satisfied for the work that you put into it, but not before. Not during Mushin.
But there is a loneliness to Grow Home that Minecraft and Katamari lack. In Minecraft and Katamari, you are always under the clock to get something done. Your mind and your fingers are never free to wander because there’s always nightfall approaching and the ever-impending wave of Creepers trying to touch your bum bum; or needing to get your Katamari to the right size so that the King of the Cosmos won’t rain heat eye beams at your oversized throwpillow head. There is a hard punishment for not following the objective, a direct impetus to follow. Grow Home doesn’t have that impetus. You can have as much wanderlust as you want and there is no punishment for it, aside from lack of progression. You can be as non-preoccupied with the goal as your brain allows, and because of that your mind can wander from the objective as much as you want. You don’t interact with many nor much in Grow Home, which builds on the sense of isolation that you have. And with no goal to follow, you’re just left to wander, alone with your thoughts.
Minecraft has a sense of isolation when you’re first get dropped into the world, but that isolation is quickly halted by the need for survival that you incur when you realize there are many things out there wanting to touch your jubblies, so you have a task at hand and a deadline to get it done. Or that you can meet and play with others in this world is also a good way to hinder the sense of isolation. Katamari is too fast paced and goal oriented to ever feel isolated, especially with such small time windows of goal oriented-ness lasting at most 15 minutes.
So you must set the task for yourself, to have your goal in mind, to climb and to grow, to be in the moment for that isolation to wane. Explore as much as you wish because the task will always be waiting and take a step back every so often to look at what you’ve created and feel a pride in that achievement.