Do you want to play a game that is a mix of “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” and “Big Ass Spider!”, and wraps it in a survival game? If so, then Grounded is the game for you. Grounded takes many survival game tropes such as crafting, exploring, and (you guessed it) survival and delivers it in a well thought out world that utilizes a modern game engine and modern graphics. While still in early access, Grounded is a game that is worth buying if you’re a fan of the survival genre and are excited to see new features released over time.
Grounded is a bright, well made survival/crafting game. It takes place in the backyard of a suburban home where it seems some mysterious experiments have been taking place. You play as a teenager whose been shrunk to the size of an ant and you have to navigate and survive in a miniature world where everything seems larger than life and something as unthreatening as a lady bug can feel like an insurmountable obstacle.
The gameplay in Grounded is very similar to one of my favorite survival games, The Forest. Enemies and neutral wildlife follow their own AI controlled daily routines and react to you as the player differently as you expand your influence in the world. You upgrade and unlock more recipes as you find new materials which helps you progress further and become stronger.
Building mechanics are similar to The Forest as well. When you build a structure, first you place down ghostly images (blueprints) of what you want to create and then you cut down the required materials and physically carry them back to your proposed structure in order to complete them. It can be a long process, but it is satisfying to complete structures by working to gather the materials and see your vision slowly take shape.
Grounded takes the concepts in The Forest and goes a couple steps further though. As a pseudo RPG, you level up certain skills and stats as you play the game and do certain tasks. This makes you feel like you are truly getting better at the game the more you play it.
While there is a story/campaign, it is not quite complete as of the writing of this article. It is an early access game though, so the story elements are slowly unfolding as new updates come out. Each update is huge however and opens up new areas of the yard and new gameplay mechanics to explore. So if you get to a point where you feel like you’ve done everything, just wait a month and come back to a much bigger game.
Co-op in Grounded is amazing. It makes the game feel so much more rewarding when you are able to share what you build with other players and work together to complete the tasks in the game. The only thing it is missing is the ability to create a persistent save between players. Currently, if the host of the game is not online, the other players cannot continue playing in the world. It would be nice if there was the option to have game servers let any of your friends come on and play in the same world, but maybe that will come in a future update.
With it’s integration of raytracing and support for the Xbox Series X from launch, Grounded is one of the best looking survival games out today. The fact that it’s made by Obsidian and Xbox studios shows that is likely to have support and updates for years to come. If you’re a survival/adventure game enthusiast then Grounded is a must-play.