The highly awaited Grounded has finally left early access with its 1.0 patch. The game is now fully released with its official build which took almost 24 months of development time. Yes! Grounded has actually been in early access for approximately two years and we will explain the updates that it has received for its final build in our review.
This is Obsidian Entertainment’s take on the survival genre embedded with various different crafting elements, which is inspired by the ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’ movies. The game can additionally be played both as a single-player experience with a fully-fledged campaign mode in its final build or as a multiplayer title, which is something that is always appreciated in the survival genre.
We will now break down each and every aspect of Grounded in our complete Grounded review.
Story And Setting
Grounded has a really interesting story for a survival title that breathes a breath of fresh air into the survival genre. Basically, a group of teenagers is lost in the world of this game and no one has a clue as to what is happening. At the start of the experience, you’re allowed to choose from one of the four different children to play. Additionally, you can play with up to three different friends in the multiplayer mode which further heightens the overall experience.
When the game starts, you find yourself shrunken down to the size of an ant and have been abandoned in your backyard without any explanation. That is how the story begins, and the setting is basically your own backyard. But your character is now minuscule and that alone changes how you view the world and its inhabitants. The game actually throws you into a sea of grass, and you will have to survive against various insects, arachnids, and creatures that would pose no threat to you at your normal size.
Now, however, these creatures pose a great threat to your tiny new presence. This is where the survival aspect comes into play, as you fend for yourself while finding food to keep yourself from starving and trying your best to understand the whole situation. The final goal of your journey is to get back to normal size. And the story does not reveal the majority of the plot directly. You will find audio tapes and documents scattered around the map that will drop certain hints about the lore.
We will describe the survival aspect of the title first before further diving into the gameplay. Basically, there are four different attributes to look out for while surviving in your backyard against bugs. Firstly, we have the stamina bar that is affected by your movements. It depletes when you are fighting, running, or dodging, so keep track of this while in combat or any tense situation. Next, we have the health bar. This is a very basic stat that constitutes the HP of your character and it gets depleted when you are damaged by attacks. Additionally, health can be affected by environmental hazards if you explore dangerous areas without proper supplies and protection.
The final two attributes are more oriented towards survival. Hunger and Thirst can only be prevented by eating food that you collect or cook from recipes. If your character becomes too thirsty or hungry, then you are slowly going to suffer debuffs to both your stamina and health bar. Building a shelter and crafting from resources using different recipes is the crux of gameplay here. The entire loop is a lot like other survival titles, however, Science Points are something unique to Grounded. You earn these by completing various challenges and exploring the environment. These points can be used to unlock schematics or recipes for better crafting recipes.
Inventory management is also key in this game. At the start, your character has 30 total slots available to them. And 25 stacks of any item can be stored in a single slot. However, the total number of slots can be increased by searching for Milk Teeth around the garden and using the resources within them to increase the size of your inventory.
You do this through Mutations, which are Grounded’s take on character buffs. These are actually learned through survival and you can only use two mutations at once. You can gain buffs for swimming if you spend a lot of time underwater and this is just a single example of an ability that you can gain.
Out in the world, you will face a wide variety of hostile insects in the garden, and defending against them will be your key to survival. The game does a good job of providing variety in enemies, and you will find Spiders, Ants, Wasps, and many more terrifying bugs. If you’re really scared of spiders, in particular, Grounded even offers Arachnophobia mode where the detail on them is lowered significantly.
And as good as the enemy variety is, the combat system just isn’t that great. It is very basic, however, it does the job for a game in the survival genre. It is based on using your crafted weapons and tools to damage the insects whilst guarding their attacks. There is not much you can do to dodge attacks and fighting multiple bugs at once basically translates to suicide. That is why the game is actually very challenging in the beginning and remains difficult until you get a shelter and better weapons to guard yourself.
Armor sets are also available in the game. They not only boost your defense but also provide certain buffs to your characters like increasing stamina or total health. Weapons are also classified on the basis of three different attributes which are piercing, splitting, and cutting. Some weapons are good for farming resources while others are efficient for combat. These can be imbued with elemental buffs as well, and some bugs are weak to these upgrades. Both weapons and armor sets can be upgraded in the game.
You can even unlock recipes for special weapons by analyzing the body parts of certain insects. This includes the mosquito needle which can be crafted after analyzing the beaks of mosquitoes. Think of these weapons as the boss weapons from the Souls Games. These also need to be repaired over time because their durability depletes with heavier usage. And that just adds to the survival aspect of the game. Now let us discuss a bit about crafting in the game that makes up most of the gameplay.
Recipes and resources are the two things that you need to craft items in Grounded. The better the recipes the higher will be the tier of these recipes and the more resources you will need to build them. Things that can be crafted include weapons, armor sets, food items, and shelter/buildings. These can also be unlocked by analyzing various resources at the Laboratories scattered around the map, which will reveal the specific recipes related to the resource that you analyze in the game.
On the other hand, the UI is not that great. It is very cluttered and the game just throws everything on the screen at the same time, and that definitely needs to be changed in one of the updates. Death is also very unforgiving and you lose almost all the items in your backpack. However, the game allows you to recover your backpack at the point of your death during the next run. There are three difficulty modes that include Relaxing, Normal and Hard. Additionally, there is a customizable difficulty mode where players can tweak various options by themselves.
This customizability allows you to create a very specific experience that only caters to your own playstyle. This is why Grounded will appeal to a wide variety of audiences. There is a certain mechanic that we feel is missing from the game and that is fast travel. Exploring the map on your own is great and all, but the ability to fast travel between set points is always useful, especially in survival games. Grounded would have definitely benefitted from that mechanic.
Visuals And Performance
Grounded really takes advantage of the raw power of Xbox Series X and provides a native 4k experience at a solid 60 FPS. The game is very well optimized and the setting almost feels like something out of a fantasy world due to its unique and beautiful art style.
There are different biomes in the backyard filled with unique and well-designed creatures. These range from grassy areas to literal ponds, and the lighting in these areas is almost perfect. The developers have really refined the visuals over the course of 2 years.
The same goes for the bugs and crashes in the game. Most of the bugs, not the living ones, have been ironed out and a lot of quality of life changes have also been made in the game. However, it is still not completely free from crashes or sudden AI breakdowns. These things don’t happen often and it is quite rare to run into such problems now.
Grounded is a refined multiplayer survival experience in an extremely unique setting with stunning visuals. Obsidian Entertainment never fails to produce quality. The game genuinely deserves to leave its early access now since it feels like a finished product.
The crafting mechanic is greatly implemented and readily amplifies the survival experience. The plot isn’t that great but that won’t bother most players. The enemy variety is also worth appreciating and the sheer amount of customizability is always welcome since even the difficulty modes can be altered.
However, there are some problems with the combat system and the overall UI of the game that can be fixed through updates. In conclusion, Grounded is a game that has some, problems, but overall it is a fantastic package.
This concludes our Grounded Review where we tackled the various aspects of this survival game in complete detail. We hope that it was helpful.
While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
- No Place for Bravery Review
- Slime Rancher 2 Early Access Review
- Shovel Knight Dig Review
- The DioField Chronicle Review
- Return to Monkey Island Review
- The Wandering Village Review
- Soulstice Review
- The Last Of Us Part 1 Review
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- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
Grounded is a refined multiplayer survival experience in an extremely unique setting with stunning visuals.
- Unique Setting and World Design.
- Great Enemy Variety.
- A Good Crafting System.
- Customizable Difficulty Modes.
- Stunning Visuals.
- Very Basic Combat System.
- UI Needs Improvement.
- Minor Bugs.