Obsidian’s diminutive survival game, Grounded, will be making an appearance in July when it launches as an Xbox Game Preview affair, but ahead of that you can get an extended look at what’s going on in this deadly garden thanks to a new developer walkthrough. Check it out above.
It’s definitely a survival game. Crafting, building, a bullshit stamina meter—it’s got it all. Mechanically, there’s nothing that stands out as particularly novel or inventive, with the setting instead doing most of the heavy lifting.
A garden isn’t the most scintillating locale for a survival game, unless you’re smaller than an ant. When you’re tiny, something as mundane as a discarded soda can could become an important landmark that helps you find your way through the tall grass, and you can even build a home inside it.
With spiders and other creepy crawlies trying to eat you, being tiny sounds a bit shit, but there are advantages. You’re really strong, for one. Tiny creatures like ants have a much greater proportional strength than humans because of the way scale and volume affect strength, so Obsidian has given its shrunken humans similar might, allowing them to haul heavy objects around with them when they can’t fit in their inventory.
It’s pretty cool, even if it’s bad science. Ants also have exoskeletons so their muscles don’t have to carry the weight of all these heavy bones like we do, and their volume is further reduced by the absence of meaty organs like lungs. An ant-sized human would still be comparatively stronger and more energetic than a regular human, which sounds great until you die from overheating or freezing to death, as well as dozens of other potential complications that come from the human body being designed for a specific scale.
And this is why I’m not allowed to watch Honey I Shrunk the Kids with friends.
In Grounded, you’re not going to die from mad science, but you might die because you forgot to eat or drink, or because you lost a brawl with a spider. There’s only a small penalty for dying, however, and you can get back all the stuff you lose by finding your backpack. It’s denoted by a big icon, so you won’t have too much trouble finding it again.
This is one of the few games where giant spiders doesn’t seem like a cop out, though as a cowardly arachnophobe this doesn’t make me feel any better. You won’t want to tango with them early on, apparently, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for moving grass, which might be caused by a spider stalking you.
Despite being a sandboxy survival romp, the garden itself is a handcrafted environment, and there’s a story simmering away beneath all the crafting, building and fighting. That’s something that Obsidian’s keeping close to its chest, however. You’ll need to figure out who owns the garden and why they shrunk you down, and you’ll have a robot buddy to help you do that.
It looks safer and more conventional than I was hoping, not unlike The Outer Worlds, but it’s still early days, so hopefully the garden has some surprises left. You’ll be able to check out an early version on July 28.