Grounded is a miniature world full of little details that are worth making a big fuss about in appreciation. This survival RPG exploits its simple concept, packing, wonderfully a vast amount of rich detail and nuance that appropriately rewards adventure and discovery.
While you can focus-hunt your way through Grounded, making sure to discover, harvest and analyze every item on the map, perhaps the best way to enjoy the game is to wander aimlessly. The most awe-inspiring moments and places are found by letting your feet guide you on this incredible journey through shrunken life.
8/8 The sounds of a good chop
Grounded is a game of small pleasures and even smaller tools to help our miniature heroes dig, chop and smash our way through the garden’s variety of materials. As you progress through the story and decide to set up camps throughout the farm, you’ll collect tons of grass planks and weed stalks to build your mansions.
Few things can compete with the satisfaction of bringing your vision to life, but the gentle, creaking snap of a plank of grass as it slowly falls to the ground can be up there. As you hack away at the blades of grass, each one will groan and crack with satisfying effect as you collect supplies. Every blade of grass definitely hits differently, so cut away to hear the variety of amazing sounds and expert Foley work Obsidian included.
7/8 The functionality of the map
It can take some time to move around on the grounded map, but luckily the map overlay screen and detailed set of markers help give some direction to your free-flowing adventure. Each player can place their own appropriately labeled map markers, making exploration and area pinging easier than ever.
The pre-existing marked points include SCA.B points and lab locations among various other landmarks that will make navigating the farm much easier than it would be without it. Each distinct locale from The Hedge to The Sandbox is also distinguished by clear boundaries and easy-to-understand paths that indicate how you must approach a given area.
6/8 Insects that announce themselves
As you run between the blades of grass and wade through shallow puddles, you will often be greeted by the light snort or squeak of a nearby insect. During the first few hours of the game, these sounds will serve as generic indicators of the behavior of nearby insects, with adorable innocuous sounds used to indicate cute friends, like aphids.
But as you’re hardened by the elements and the cold realities of the farm, you’ll come to pick up on the angry growls and concerning skitters common among the many races of spiders in the game. Wolf Spiders offer a distinct, serious sniffing sound while Orb Weavers emit a blood curdling screech and hiss combination that will make your skin crawl – but in a helpful way.
5/8 Unique damage types
Grounded takes an old RPG pin and spins it on its head, replacing typical elemental damage types like fire or ice with unique re-imaginings in the form of Sizzling and Fresh, among others. There are handy niches for each of the game’s damage types, and some weapons even provide excellent status effects.
Taking the time to learn the weaknesses of the multitude of marauding insects across the farm, you’ll quickly switch between Mint Mace, Coaltana, Rusty Spear and Salt Morning Star, choosing the perfect weapon to get the job done. . Take your time to learn and master the different items, as there are several Sizzling, Fresh, Sour and Salty weapons to choose from, just to name a few.
4/8 Well placed points of interest
As you explore the seemingly endless stretches of the farm, you’ll come across fascinating artifacts such as old toys and even a burial site. The hamster’s tombstone is among the many items worth going out of your way for, as the pastel-colored stone is brightly decorated in memory of the family pet.
Small offshoots like the one found by entering Dan’s Shallow Tomb can lead you to rare items or upgrade materials, such as Milk Molars, which are crucial to improving your efficiency. Dan’s grave is a morbid reminder of a lost pet, but illustrates how richly detailed even the game’s most obscure corners are, so go looking for the unexpected; you never know what you might find.
3/8 Your character’s reactions
These pint-sized adventurers have a lot on their minds, including several fantastic lines of dialogue that offer a closer look at the Grounded characters. As you run around encountering new bugs or locations, your character will be quick to comment on his observations or a new discovery.
These moments expand beautifully the more people you play with, as the many characters will initiate unique lines of dialogue and topics of conversation depending on who is in the group. Max and Pete have some sweet, short banter, while Willow and Hoops often offer practical, sober perspectives on life in the garden.
2/8 The pace of progression
Grounded’s story is pretty short and simple all things considered, though it’s lengthened by the amount of time and effort needed to navigate and conquer the farm. Story aside, your only way to judge progression is by checking your overall brainpower. You can increase your Brainpower by scanning new objects, and in turn you’ll earn Raw Science and unlock new recipes at certain thresholds.
While you probably won’t notice your brainpower if you’re engrossed in exploration or combat, it provides a fantastic metric to tell how much of the garden you’ve actually analyzed. In addition, the unlocked recipes are incredibly beneficial and include access to endgame armor such as the Roly Poly Armor Set, which provides excellent resistance, among several other important recipes.
1/8 The sense of humor
From the beginning, Grounded presents different ways to approach the game: as an intense survival game with elements of insect horror, or as a “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” inspired game with a bunch of light-hearted kids who just want to survive. But if you take the time to look at some of the game’s items and recipes, you’ll notice that the game pushes you towards the light-hearted interpretation.
Reading through ridiculous recipes with names like “Gnatchos” or “Quesadillantlion” makes everything a little more fun. Suddenly, the Wolf Spider waiting for you to exit your menu seems a lot less terrifying, especially if you remember that spiders are just colossal webbed containers with faces and terrifying pincers. The next time you approach The Broodmother’s Lair with your Broodmother BLT and a fridge of smoothies, remember to catch your breath and enjoy the absurdity of this off-the-wall adventure.
NEXT: Grounded: Relatable things each player does