We caught a glimpse of Grounded in the Xbox Games Presentation earlier this month, one of the few titles that seemed to have a fun idea that could be executed by the studio Obsidian Entertainment.
It’s a survival-crafting hybrid that Minecraft has popularized, taking a few notes from Ark: Survival Evolved along with Rust as players are faced with the classic ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’ scenario and tasking players with surviving in their own backyard amongst ferocious insects and spiders while cutting down blades of grass to build fortifications and decorate your humble living quarters.
This is the same Obsidian Entertainment that brought about Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity, KOTOR2, and a laundry-list of critically acclaimed titles; if you’re the type that likes betting, you can easily side with Grounded even in its barebones state that it’s currently in.
Yet it is barebones, and it is in Early Access; for some, that’s more than enough to paint the entire title as something to be avoided until development gets a bit further, but even in its current state, there is a shocking amount of charm and nuance that consistently rears its head throughout the 30 minutes of story-led narrative.
Where Ghost of Tsushima is astonishing at the immersion and weight that it gives players from the first few moments of gameplay, Grounded similarly wows with fanciful immersion that takes a classic notion and adds on the popular survival-crafting genre.
📣 IT'S TIME TO GET GROUNDED 📣
Grounded is included with Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass for PC, and is available for purchase through Xbox Game Preview, the Microsoft Store, and Steam Early Access for $29.99! 🙌
— Grounded (@GroundedTheGame) July 28, 2020
The kids you’ll play as are all voiced, coming straight out of an ’80s throwback where they talk about Boy Scouts and baseball while attempting to handle the sudden shift from being normal kids to fighting for their lives against insects of various species and the elements.
There absolutely are some growing pains right now for hosting online servers to experience the cooperation aspect of Grounded, and it is once again expounded by Grounded being tethered to the Xbox Live account that everyone will need to be able to play.
Regardless of whether you’re playing it through the Steam platform or the Xbox Games Pass for PC, expect a headache that is dependant on how often you wrestle with the multi-layered account protections that have you logging on to multiple platforms to figure out which email address you set up a decade ago when you originally had an Xbox 360. This is unlikely to change until Microsoft themselves has a change of heart; State of Decay 2 had similar woes.
Further, there is a touch of issue regarding settings; a depth-of-field obscures what you’re trying to focus on far too often, and a lack of very detailed graphical options to tinker with and benchmark are similarly frustrating PC fans; again, it’s early access, and it’s to be expected.
If you can look beyond the growing pains that are embedded in the Early Access title, however, there is something amazing to discover in this. Filled with imagination and courage, hope and innovation, Grounded is easily in line to be one of the best survival-crafters of 2020.