Do you like the idea of games where you must survive in a complicated environment, but always thought they were a bit tough? Let’s take it down a notch, and I also mean that literally. All the basics are here in Grounded. You start out with pretty much nothing. You begin to pick up stuff off the ground and punch some less threatening enemies. Once you have an assortment, you can then craft what is possible. You will craft an axe; use it to chop resources or use it as a weapon. Now you can harvest more materials. Eventually, you are able to craft gear, cook food, and even build your own shelter. The best part is that you’re shrunk down to about the size of an ant! Everyone will remember and reference Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. As they should, because it is extremely comparable to the situation you’re in.
The Giant World — Since you’re so tiny, the world actually feels like it becomes much larger. A blade of grass appears several stories high. A tree appears so gigantic, that when you look up it feels like it never ends. The smallest of insects are now the size of a cat. Survival feels different in this world while still maintaining the core mechanics. A drop of dew on a blade of grass in the morning feels like a miracle. You’re not on a distant island or somewhere set where dinosaurs roam. You’re in a garden. The setting appears to be futuristic. There is advanced technology around and even a sort of guide that gives you missions. When you start, you’ll find a little computer with which you can analyze stuff you find. This helps you figure out what you can craft with the materials. I remember going to Disney when I was younger, and there was an actual area based on the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie. When I play Grounded, it reminds me a lot of that area. It’s an awesome idea and I hope they keep adding to it. There seems to be an almost-endless amount of additions they can make.
Survival More Fun than Hard — In a lot of the other games, you’re stressed out about finding resources and actually staying alive. Things break apart fast and death can mean you lose your stuff. Not in Grounded! Eating and drinking are fairly easy. If you die, you respawn with the meters half full. Go to sleep and it will replenish as well. If you die, it’s really not a pain to go run to your backpack. Even in terrible situations, I was able to retrieve my gear. I died one time to a spider in a corner. I went back, grabbed the loot, and dashed off as quickly as I could. Things don’t break very easily either. You can go for a very long time without having to fix or craft tools. It allows a larger player base to be able to enjoy playing.
It’s the Small Things — A lot of the crafting makes sense. Take, for example, you’re lucky enough to slay a spider. You can use the fang as a poison arrow. The weapons are really cool. I was able to do quite a lot in just a few hours. It’s nice waking up in the morning and finding fresh dew on a grass blade. The science part is interesting as well. This is the first survival game I’ve seen where technology was actually available as a resource. Analyzing the materials to see what I could craft was exciting. I think the pacing is quite good too. Some of the attention to detail can be pretty remarkable. Seeing blades of grass moving in one specific spot usually tells you there is danger lurking. It’s good to stay away since it’s often a spider! All of the little things are something to really appreciate.
Team up — You can go at it alone or invite up to four friends. There is online support, which is awesome. You can enter each other’s worlds and help them defeat spiders or build a nice shelter. Think of how fast you can get resources when all working as a team! The only thing to worry about is that there are more mouths to feed. It’s like the cherry on top. I hope to eventually play online, but I have enjoyed just going solo for now.
Lots of Bugs (Ha!) — Being in “game preview” means it’s sort of in beta. Glitches are sure to happen and it’s good to report them to the developers so that they can fix it before it actually releases. Currently, I cannot progress because my mission is stuck. There was an explosion at the tree and I’m supposed to investigate it. In my playthrough, the smoke doesn’t appear and the door I’m supposed to enter for the mission is locked. The mission is triggered but the game thinks it isn’t active. Another bad one is time stopping. At first, I enjoyed it. No night time! I can see and do what I want without worrying about the dark. On the other hand, with time being stopped, I could not cook food, sleep, or replenish my analyzing energy. So not only can I not complete a mission, I also can’t progress any farther with my character as far as crafting goes. I will be waiting until they fix it before playing again.
Here’s what I’d like to see:
There are a few improvements to building a shelter that would be good. Arranging the grass blades is not always easy because of the elevation and random rocks. There are plenty of other insects that would be cool to add. Bees could be a menacing enemy and also add honey as an available ingredients. I’d also enjoy something in the water. Right now you can swim at your heart’s content but there’s just nothing really going on. I’m not even sure what the water is. Is it just a giant puddle? If so, I guess there really can’t be anything added to it. The list goes on and maybe you will be pondering some of your own ideas. This game must have been a blast to create.
I love it already, even with all of the issues it has. I’m certain these will be ironed out in the coming months. One of my favorite features is that I can pause. Yes, you can pause the game! I hate when I can’t pause a game and it continues while I need to attend to something in real life. I look forward to a final release with some achievements to go after. Currently, there are none. This is what’s great about video games. It’s like being in control of a movie. Grounded is such a unique take on the survival genre. What we all take as simple and meaningless, become a huge role when you’re extremely small. I am looking forward to getting strong enough to battle spiders and ants.
Grounded was published by Xbox Game Studios and developed by Obsidian Entertainment on Xbox One. It is currently in game preview and available for $29.99. A copy was played using Game Pass.