Grounded Hands-On Preview – Absolutely Charming

Obsidian’s Grounded is a charming addition to the survival genre that invites cooperative teams of up to four players to engage in a curious adventure that takes place, entirely, in somebody’s backyard.

Grounded is undeniably inspired by the 1989 sci-fi comedy, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and tells the story of four teenagers, Max, Willow, Hoops, and Pete, who have been mysteriously transformed into teeny-tiny versions of themselves in an experiment gone wrong. Thrust into the savage ecosystem that lives between the blades of grass in somebody’s backyard; the teenagers must work together, craft, cook, gather and fight for survival in an oddly familiar world filled with everyday objects and common creatures that take on a whole new role when you’re less than an inch tall.

The learning curve is swift for anybody who boasts moderate experience with survival games, particularly those in first person and will resonate most with those who have spent a lot of time with games like 7 Days to Die, Rust and DayZ, I felt at home within minutes.

The interface is simple, displaying your health, hunger, and thirst in the bottom left-hand corner at all times to make sure you can easily keep track of your vitals. Your inventory is known as the ‘hot pouch’ and pops up on the screen as a radial display, allowing you to switch between your equipped items and consumables quickly. The intuitive design tends to come in handy when ants are swarming you, or you are being pounced on by leaping mites.

The building mechanics feel a lot like that in Endnight Games’ The Forest. Players can place blueprints for structures on the map for any other player to contribute materials. When a sufficient amount of materials such as weed logs or grass plants are added to the structure, it then becomes complete for all of the players to use. One of the first buildable structures is a workbench which players can then use to craft individual items such as tools, weapons or armour, including a full set of acorn armour complete with an adorable acorn face mask.

Though the duration of the demo was limited and I didn’t have a lot of time to test our options, I quickly learned that the spear was the most effective weapon for hunting available in the preview. I spawned with the spear in our inventory and could be thrust or thrown at enemies such as aphids, mites, or ants around the map. Killing enemies spawned various items such as mite fuzz and ant parts, but unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to explore what I could do with a pocket full of mite fuzz. I did have the opportunity to cook aphid steaks for my companions and me, however. By crafting an open fire in the middle of our recently completed fortress, I was able to grill raw aphid meat to celebrate the successful construction with my team. After gathering materials from different directions on the map, I was pretty proud of our new home, even though I had rotated my front door just a little too much and had managed to install it almost sideways.

Grounded is going to be a must play for any fan of the survival genre and any gamer searching for a new co-op adventure for them and their pals. The game is expected to release sometime in Autumn, 2020 and will be available on Xbox One and PC via Game Pass as well as Steam Early Access.