Grounded Obsidian’s backyard survival games have grown into something truly extraordinary Review.

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It was a game I played during the early access period. I was surprised at how Grounded had evolved for its 1.0 launch. It seems to have exceeded my expectations and has fulfilled the potential of the “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” survival premise. Although it still has some bugs, mostly software-related, I have enjoyed almost every moment of the more than 100 hours of this brilliantly creative and hilarious adventure. It easily ranks alongside my favourite survival games.

Grounded is a survival-oriented game, but it draws inspiration from Obsidian as an RPG wizard team. Your time will be split between exploring the beautiful backyard for materials, crafting amazing items from your enemies’ corpses, protecting yourself and your stuff, fighting huge bugs that made my co-op partner’s nightmares, and exploring difficult dungeons to level up your stats and equipment. It feels more like a roleplaying video game than its survival counterparts. There are many character progression mechanisms, an enemy weakness and resistance system that made me pore over the menu. The elaborate boss fights and NPCs that break up the action make it feel more like a roleplaying games. There aren’t many NPCs to be found and the story development is mostly done via audio recordings or hours of survival gameplay. But Grounded manages to strike a good balance between making you feel alone in hostile territory and meeting interesting characters who will inevitably try and maim you.


Grounded’s story of shrinking children trying to find a way back to their normal size is not always the most important. You might spend 12 hours building supplies and improving your base, but that goal may never come up. It shines because it is hilarious and completely ridiculous when it gets the spotlight. Your main allies are a spatula-wielding robot with a terrible reputation who is programmed to make burgers. Director Shmector is the bad guy. You spend a lot time collecting Raw Science currency – Grounded doesn’t take itself seriously to hilarious effect. One endgame reveal was so ridiculous and completely stupid that my teammates had to take their headsets off for a while to let me “walk it off”. That moment would have been priceless, and Grounded’s hilarious story is chock-full.Grounded’s star is the backyard.

Even with memorable characters, though, the star of Grounded is hands-down the backyard itself, which is completely beautiful and oozes personality from every blade of grass. One inhospitable and extremely rude area of the yard has an overturned charcoal grill that acts as a volcanic mountain range, while another has a leaking bug bomb that fills the area with a noxious gas and mutated insects. A child’s sandbox becomes a hysterical, hostile desert where staying out in the sun for more than a few seconds causes you to burn up, so you’ve gotta dart between patches of shade for cover. A koi pond becomes a terrifying and deadly game of cat and mouse as you explore the water’s depths and avoid the oppressive gaze of the pond’s gilled master. Every tiny patch of grass acts as its own distinct area, with its own host of increasingly dangerous creatures, things to discover, and obstacles to overcome, and the attention to detail and creativity born from that never stopped making me smile – even small things, like how you have to collect drinkable water from blades of grass that carry a single drop of dew, are excellent little touches.What would you find the most frustrating thing about shrinking to the size and shape of a bug?

Grounded has shrunk you and your friends to the size of an insect. Because the few main story quests that you can complete unlock perks for your character, gather materials to upgrade your equipment and make improvements to your base. For example, creating ziplines to quickly travel across the vast map. In the more than 100 hours that I have spent on it, I have never run out of things to do. It’s still overwhelming how vast the place is. It feels like I have yet to see the whole thing in many ways.

Grounded is addictive because it does so much with its sandbox. It can do everything right, from resource management and building to exploration and combat. Grounded is a simple set of blocks that allows you to build basic structures. However, once you get started, the game quickly turns into a madhouse where you can unleash your imagination and create multi-story buildings, ziplines, trampolines, or housing for your pets. You will spend hours creating your miniature home with all the modern amenities a small child would need, such as a kitchen station to make delicious insects-based food, a comfortable bed for sleep, and a garden to grow your own mushrooms. My group built their home into the side of an oak tree. Over the course of play, our structure climbed up the branches and roots until it felt like a fortress. It can be difficult to place items correctly and get the spacing right. Sometimes the finicky controls can lead to wasted time and resources. However, it is flexible enough that you can work around any environment or take what’s already there and make it yours.

You’ll explore the backyard for adventure and supplies, even if you aren’t creating your micro utopia. Grounded’s second part feels more like an RPG adventure than a survival game. There are melee and ranged combat mechanics, which require precision timing, clever use of equipment and smoothies (Grounded’s equivalent to a potion), and a lot of environmental factors. My goal was to be a melee-tryhard, using perfect parries to deflect incoming attacks, reduce the enemy’s stamina and stun them until they fall asleep, while my fellow party members dealt with death far away with an arsenal full of elemental arrows.

Combat, like many things in Grounded starts off as simple and quickly becomes a complex algorithm that may require an Excel spreadsheet to map out everything. You’ll be mainly navigating through the tricky terrain to win, blocking and attacking as you go. This is all that matters in survival games. As you become more familiar with the tougher and more dangerous enemies and the hostile environments in which they live, you will need to research, make choices about what you should craft, upgrade and bring along, and change your tactics to defeat them. For example, in the Haze area you will need to wear a gas mask for poison prevention. You should also be prepared for anything that could fire at you from far away or explode in your face. This can cause severe damage to your equipment and may require you to bring a variety of options. You’ll need to use melee weapons, fire protection, blocking and timing to keep your enemies away from another area swarming in powerful larvae creatures.

You should also be aware of their weaknesses and resistances when you face difficult boss fights or powerful enemy mobsters to determine how to best approach them. One enemy may be vulnerable to slashing attacks or salty elements, while another might be able to handle blunt weapons and spicy elements. These factors will impact the strategies and equipment your team uses to win – and you’ll need all of the help you can get, as many areas and dungeons can be quite nasty and difficult to conquer.

Grounded offers a variety of enemies that you can go to war with. A gas mask is required for one area in the backyard that is dominated with the foul smell of nearby trash cans. The area is made more dangerous when flying enemies bring around spoiled meat. This can cause gas mask to break in seconds. However, the sandbox is home to antlions, which can burrow under your skin and emerge from underneath you, causing massive damage if they aren’t prepared. Even after 100 hours, I still found new enemies to fight – my Pokedex is still not complete!Best Xbox Game Pass Games

There are many areas in the backyard that present challenges that you need to adapt to. I was forced to replace my trusted arsenal with equipment that could help me survive the watery depths. Another high up on a blueberry bush tested my bravery and platforming skills. These dungeons offer a variety of puzzles and some even have a boss battle at their end that will test your skill and preparedness.It will be necessary to put an end to all the exploration and laughter to look at a grid of valuable items.

That said, while running amok in Grounded is almost always a blast, it does occasionally subject you to some painful design choices that bring the good times to an abrupt halt. Chief among these issues is the absolutely tiny inventory space you’re forced to work with in a sandbox that’s absolutely stuffed with things it wants you to loot. If you’re like me, you’ll have to stop the laughs and exploration to stare at a grid of precious items and face a Sophie’s Choice ordeal for what to bring with you and what to leave behind, and you’re given almost zero opportunities to expand your storage space throughout the course of your journey. Even worse, if something you’re carrying breaks and you don’t have space to store it, your character will drop the item on the floor with no notification that you’ve left something behind. I can’t tell you how many times I had to retrace my steps in search of a valuable piece of armor that snapped off me in the heat of battle.

Some enemies will also just knock your weapons out of you and send them off into the distance with no way to retrieve or locate them. One instance resulted in me losing my most important piece of equipment. I was never able recover it. Although I understand that my weapon should be lost if infected insects explode in my face, could you please give me a map marker so I can track it down later on? These decisions are particularly puzzling given how meticulously and beautifully every detail was executed. For example, when you die, your equipment is automatically marked indefinitely until it is recovered. This ensures that you can always locate and collect any items you have lost.

Even though I was annoyed at the lack of inventory space and my beloved weapon being lost, I kept coming back to this campaign because it was so much fun. Once you have cleared a dungeon you gain insight into the story and unlock new equipment, areas, and enemies. This loop is endlessly habit-forming. You feel powerful and in charge of your backyard. Then new opportunities and tribulations present themselves. I lost entire days in a matter of seconds.

Grounded is still struggling with bugs. And not just the ones that skitter around and eat your face. Grounded is still very technically difficult, as it has been since its early access launch two years ago. It crashed frequently to my Xbox dashboard, I had my co-op friends kicked from my world randomly and saw bugs and items get stuck inside objects in my world. I also had my camera move out of alignment so that I could see into my character’s bodies. There is a silver lining to all of this. Autosave ensures that you don’t lose significant progress. The camera can be easily reset and reinviting crestfallen colleagues is often quick and relatively painless. It’s still disappointing that after two years of early access development, we didn’t achieve a stable final product.


Grounded is a fun, challenging and memorable adventure. Obsidian’s humor, style and RPG skills make it one of my favorite survival games. Grounded is one of the few games I have been eager to return to after more than 100 hours. However, it still makes me dream about my next small expedition. Even with the small inventory, lost treasures and constant instability issues, Grounded has not let me down. This is a testimony to the strength of every other component of Grounded. I was able to enjoy my life and my style without any issues.

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