Geek Chronicles’ latest venture sees us stalking through the undergrowth, blades of grass scar the sky while the ground rumbles with the thunderous steps of giants. The sun is setting as the insectoid nightmares crawl on spindly legs from their lairs.
Developed by Obsidian Entertainment (best known for games such as Fallout: New Vegas, The Outer Worlds and Pillars Of Eternity), Grounded is set not in the cold, uncaring depths of space or the blistering, radioactive desert but somewhere much more insidious. Your own yard.
Shrunken by the mysterious company Ominent Practical Technologies (OPT or Ominent, for short), the player is shrunk to the “size of an Ant” and must survive the hostile environment of their own back garden, facing monstrous bugs and giant obstacles while trying to regain their lost height.
The game itself is quite impressive, having been developed by a team of 14 people from Obsidian Entertainment using Unreal Engine 4 and published by Xbox Game Studios. The game takes inspiration from the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids film, though does not follow the plot of the movie or feature any RPG (Role – Playing Game) progression system. This allows the player to define their experience in the game. The graphics have a blend of cartoonish charm and strong, defined details that make it stand out, especially when facing the horrible nightmares that are The Spiders.
A major element of the game is survival, as previously mentioned. Hunger and Thirst are a common challenge in the game, as you’ll need to keep both meters up to avoid an early demise. Sprouting around the garden are clusters of small mushrooms which, thankfully, are safe to eat, making them easy picking for when you’re first starting. Though, if mushrooms aren’t to your liking, you could always raise your weapon and ‘get’ some bug meat to roast over a fire (if said bugs don’t get you first).
Onto the bigger of the two struggles, finding water is much harder. While you would instinctively search for a lake or pond to drink from (pond water, Mmm), there is a much simpler option.
Look up. Hanging from the towering grass blades are dew droplets that can be easily drunk to replenish your Thirst. The main challenge is getting there though, as these lifesaving droplets are located around the top and middle sections. These are also the easiest way at getting clean water, as drinking from ponds and puddles makes the character sick (so stop drinking puddle water!). This makes both meters increase and doesn’t refill a lot either.
The main threat in the game comes from the other inhabitants of the yards you’re sharing with. The A.I. of each bug is very detailed with unique behaviors, as Ants aren’t hostile unless the player is threatening to them. This can happen by building your house too close to their food source, attacking them, or generally getting stronger. Some enemies, however, are always hostile. This leads me to the eight-leg nightmare of the spider.
If you didn’t have arachnophobia before, then be assured you will have after dying to these things. They are in essence one of the strongest enemies in the game, able to kill a player extremely quickly without strong armor, and are much, much faster than you. There are currently only two different types of spiders, the Orb Weaver, and the Wolf Spider. The Wolf is the considerably tougher of the two, with a devastating pounce attack and poison to swiftly end a fight before it’s truly beginning.
As with many survival games, there is a crafting system that allows you to take the resources around you (said resources may try and eat you, so beware) and make a range of useful equipment to aid in your continued existence. This not only includes weapons and armor to defend yourself but also ways to increase your chances of survival, such as the Mushroom garden, which allows you to grow said shroom to eat at your base, instead of having to go searching for them.
With all of this, Grounded is truly a unique survival game. The variety of enemies, the dynamic landscape, and the ability to make your own adventure, this makes the game stand out from so many others.
And that is not all. The game was updated with the Koi Pond, an underwater section of the map which, as you can guess, features a monstrous Koi Carp. This new edition adds new and interesting content for the game, such as new enemies, locations, and gear to craft. While diving into the murky depths of the pond, beware of the fish. The Koi, while bound to its aquatic habitat, is one of the deadliest enemies in the game, as its capable of killing the player in a single hit. However, scales that the Koi sheds can be used to craft armour that allows the player to swim faster, extend their breath underwater and gives a boost to blocking.
So, with all this in only one game, would it surprise you to know that Grounded has crossed 5 Million players within 6 months? Well, it’s true! The game has achieved so much.
Has it caught your interest? It certainly has ours. With the shriek of monstrous bugs, the night crawls ever on within the dangerous, miniature realm.