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Honey, I shrunk the “Ark” – Grounded Preview Impressions

Grounded is a new “micro” survival game released by Obsidian Entertainment. It is currently a Game Preview, with simultaneous releases on Xbox, Game Pass, and Steam

As of writing this, Grounded is one of the Top Sellers on Steam already, as well as one of the highest viewed games on Twitch. This is obviously subject to change.

What’s the message in?

There’s not a lot of the story in the preview, this makes sense as it’s not the full release. What we can tell is that, for some reason a group of kids have been shrunk. Then left a back garden, your objective seems to be to try and return to regular size. 

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There’s a device that can be found in a clearing, with some lasers pointing out, towards huger lasery… things. Your job seems to be to fix this up, with the assumption that this device will turn you big again.

If, like me, you can be easily side tracked, you may just start building. Much like it’s other survival inspirations, you can build up a base, or just a house. Instead of using wood, or thatch, or stone, as you might in other games. In Grounded you use grass, yes literally grass. Being so small, you are able to cut down blades of grass as if they were trees. If that doesn’t excite you alone, then I don’t know what will!

Along with the grass, you have to collect tiny mushrooms to eat, knock down beads of dew to drink, and fight off insects and the like. I know there are other survival games but I get a really strong Ark vibe from Grounded. This is for sure a positive as Ark is a fantastic game.

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You can collect other materials as well, like plant fibre, sprigs, and sap to name some. These can be used to craft a lot of useful items and infrastructure. Like a workbench to help with armour, or a little leafy bin to store excess materials.

To unlock the blueprints for all of these extra crafts, you have to analyse the raw materials you pick up. So if you take a little pebelete you can unlock blueprints. Then if you take some plant fibre you can get another. Well you just picked up some sap, why not try that.

What did I like?

The honest answer is, most of Grounded. So far, it’s just a fun little distraction that I will keep playing. To get into some specifics though, there are some key points that I like.

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For one, the whole idea. Instead of just making a bigger game, Obsidian did the opposite. When you think about it, it’s the perfect scenario. If you’ve ever watched any film even remotely related to becoming small, or involving insects. Like “Honey, I shrunk the kids” or “A Bug’s Life” there is always an element of survival. It was already there. Obsidian are just the ones that realised this potential. 

The art style in Grounded is gorgeous. It takes a cartoony style, especially with the characters, and mixes it with beautiful scenery. Including amazing lighting effects through the gaps in the grass. The style is perfectly put together to make it feel like you’re in a sprawling forest, despite the fact you are in a garden. That is definitely to be applauded. I personally really do love the style choices. It’s a small feature but it’s also cool that the Ladybugs are so reflective. You are able to see other things moving around you whilst looking into it.

In terms of pure game mechanics. I love the idea of analysing materials to unlock new blue prints. I don’t know if this has been done in other survival games but I really like it. It adds a little more immersion, whilst picking up materials you can learn new ways to use them. So if you start building a base with just some walls, then you learn how to make some scaffolding. You can add the scaffolding to improve your base, to make it in even more places. It’s a nice level of progression that keeps things interesting.

This is a really interesting feature. There is an arachnophobia visual setting in Grounded. That, when used, will transform the look and sound of the spiders in the garden. This is both genius and hysterical. Genius because the spiders are a legit threat and look creepy as anything normally. Hysterical because the safe version looks ridiculous, in a great way. This isn’t an accessibility option that many consider.


This should be an obvious one but Game Pass. Grounded was released as a game preview on Game Pass immediately. Especially for previews, this is a perfect way to release. It gives everyone with Game Pass the option to try it out. Not everyone will like it, not everyone likes survival games as a whole. It does help you get a bigger sample of testers to give feedback for your new game though. I think the feedback will be invaluable.

What could be improved?

There aren’t really that many things that I didn’t like in my time watching and playing Grounded. There were some genuine issues though, that will need to be remedied before full launch.

The biggest one is the connection issues. I have seen multiple people, and comments, having issues connecting to the same server. Unable to connect to a lobby. Then being kicked out mid game and then unable to rejoin that lobby. It’s a big issue for a game like this, as co-op is a big draw for survival games.

Let me start my next point by saying that by using scaffolding, this issue can be mostly solved. Mostly. That being said the placing of walls, mostly, is really clunky. With them sometimes going mad and shaking, flying out in front or behind you. Just general shenanigans really. It then does take some time, especially if you need to turn the wall around to face a different direction. I regularly had to move a fair bit away from my building, to turn the piece around to where I wanted it. Then run back and hope it snapped into the right place.

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Finally, the ants around always try to steal from you. Especially if you leave certain items in a storage basket. Even when you have 2 walls/doors and you’ve put it on top of a large rock. They will just ignore it all and make their way to steal everything. It’s a little annoying to say the least. I think at worst, they should steal from your person. Then if you leave items in your storage, in your base it should all be safe.

Yay or Nay?

For me, I think Grounded is a hard yes. There are some teething issues that definitely need to be fixed before full release. This is a Game Preview though, so this is much to be expected. That being said, there aren’t that many issues that I have seen or experienced. Overall the game runs well and is fun to play, even on your own.

It remains to be seen how far the building and the story will actually go but I have very high hopes. I think Grounded will end up being a great little distraction for a group of friends. I know that for me and mine, we could easily waste away a whole day.

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If you have Game Pass you can download Grounded for no extra cost. I think that if you are on Game Pass you’d be crazy to not at least try it. It has some great potential and a fantastic studio behind it, big things are on the horizon here.

Have you played Grounded? What did you think?

Let us know below in the comments!

Grounded first impressions.
Written by Kyle Munn.

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