Grounded is a survival game just begging to be explored. It’s a treat to see the various little details, fun references and lore sprinkled across the now gigantic backyard you find yourself in.
Often, the game also rewards exploring hard-to-reach areas and hidden locations by placing rare resource materials, SCA.B shells, and items that actually evolve the world around you without being so direct. Because there’s so much to see in Grounded, it’s only natural that some threads go unnoticed as players focus on improving their base, getting back to regular size, or simply calling it up as another fun ’90s reference.
6/6 Dungeons and dragons and bugs
Many cool easter eggs in the game tell the story of the former inhabitants. Throughout the garden you will find remnants of a Dungeons & Dragons-like game called Minotaurs & Myrmidons. They’re easily overlooked as they seem like simple references, but you can actually play and be rewarded with some premium treasure – a BURG.L chip, Mega Milk Molar, some marble and quartzite, and a skin for your SCA.B.
While exploring one of Dr. Wendell Tully’s labs, you can find an “M&M” gamebook along with a Mant game piece. On the picnic table you will find the game board with a Minotaur maze you can try to go through. Should you reach the end, you will find the chest full of treasures mentioned earlier. You just need to make sure you get the Minotaur Key from a flooded tunnel nearby, hidden by roots you have to cut through.
5/6 The Dead Teen Club
Throughout the game it is heavily implied that you are not the first set of teenagers to be shrunk down. In fact, many flashbacks (which you can access by sleeping) directly mention the dark consequences that come with their research methods.
However, what players may skip over is the fact that you can actually find these former teenagers, their things, and find out what they looked like if you check out the different areas of the farm. Their corpses are littered in hidden caves and areas, and you can even find their own backpacks with some important loot to grab after a moment of silence. As you read through the story and find these bodies, it becomes eerily clear that the missing teenagers you can see on the milk carton are sadly gone forever.
4/6 Honey, I shrunk the T-Rex
It’s pretty clear that many aspects of Grounded are an homage to the movie “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” One of the neat little references you can find is the sunken T-Rex figure in the depths of the pond.
It’s pretty creepy because of the glowing eyes, the lack of ambient light, and the grass growing around it, but this just makes it a great easter egg that gives off the same vibe as the on-screen T-Rex it references. Apart from being a landmark, it also serves as one of the possible entrances to the biome. Brave players can swim into the jaws and find a handy weapon with a critical hit chance.
3/6 The Dead Hamster Chronicles
Dr. Wendell’s backyard is not free from the fate that befalls many a family backyard. It also doubles as a pet cemetery. In this family, the pet in question is an adorable hamster named Dan Hamster III. Apart from the fact that his name suggests that two others have preceded him, you can actually discover the full circumstances of his death.
There is a painted rock that serves as his tombstone showing that he died in 1987, and if you explore further, you will find a spider’s nest that is actually his burial site. If you check his remains, you’ll find a SCA.B skin and some old gum inside his skeleton. Should you look around one of Wendell’s labs, you’ll actually find a portrait showing the Tully kids feeding Dan said gum. Don’t feed your hamsters gum, kids.
2/6 Complicated matrimonial matters
Computer logs and the fact that the farm is long since abandoned make it clear that Dr. Wendell’s family has abandoned him because of his obsession with his invention. His marriage collapses as he gets deeper into research, and you eventually find that he’s suffered physical limitations from all the “mad scientist” activity.
If you talk to Dr. Wendell and listen to his audio logs, you’ll learn that his wife actually tried to stick it out with him – until he missed Thanksgiving dinner and considered leaving the family. This is where his wife, Trudy, takes their children and leaves him forever. You can actually find Trudy’s wedding ring at the bottom of the pond, after being thrown. A computer log also shows that this is not the first time the ring has been lost, as it was previously eaten by a Koi fish before being retrieved by Wendell. The wedding ring is one of the landmarks that can give you the Merteen mutation, which allows you to swim faster and hold more oxygen underwater.
1/6 A secret boss for the good ending
One of the sneaky yet interesting things about Grounded is that it doesn’t make it clear that there’s more than one possible ending until you’re pretty much in the latter stages of the game. Throughout your journey, you are led to believe that the main goal is simply to return to normal size and help Dr. Wendell expose the Ominent.
Spoiler Alert – The following section reveals the optional boss fight and ending for Grounded.
The most seemingly clear path is to turn on JavaMatic and defend the MIX.R modules until you can complete the Embiggening Cocktail. It’s a tough final battle that tempts you to use your best base defense tactics, as tons of ORC creatures try to destroy both you and the modules.
If you manage to succeed, you complete the game, but actually get the bad ending. To get the good ending, don’t defend the base once and then talk to Dr. Wendell about what to do. You will then find that there is “another way” that can make things easier for you.
Although it’s not made clear in any way, you need to go to the Castle Moldorc Playset with Dr. Wendell and find the secret lab inside by building a path towards the castle. Dr. Wendell must be with you so he can order BURG.L to hack into it. Here you will find the cure for his “upbringing” and meet the secret boss – Director Schmector. If you defeat Schmector, you’ll not only have an easier time defending the JavaMatic with fewer enemies, but you’ll also get the happy ending – with Dr. Wendell revealing the Ominent and reuniting with his family, and the teenagers returning to normal size as promising youngsters researchers.
Next: Best base building games, ranked