Selecting a new game, you will have the option to choose the Scenario Variables that you prefer to play. There are Four Modes to choose from: 1. Mild (the yard is a hostile environment but stats are more forgiving and friendly fire is off), 2. Medium (manage thirst, hunger, health and stamina while you fight to survive), 3. Whoa! (this is the most punishing way to live the tiny life; creatures are tougher, vitals are harder to keep filled and everything breaks faster), 4. Creative (zero stress in this mode; craft and explore with no resource management or existential threats). Next, you’ll have to choose which tiny teen to play as, of which there are four: Max, Willow, Pete and Hoops.
You begin wondering where the hell you are; you’re not sure if you’re dreaming or in some sort of television prank. Looking around, it seems that you’re underground, with roots twisting out from the soil around you. Moving forward you notice the glimmer of the sky as the ground starts to open above you. Stepping out from the underground, you notice the sun’s rays shining through what you thought were trees but turn out to be blades of grass before you. You also spot a huge baseball and mushrooms you could use as umbrellas. But how is this possible? Why is everything so big? Why am I small; what happened? You will have to search for these answers as you travel through the dangers of the garden in your miniature size.
In the bottom left-hand corner, you’ll find your Sca.b Hud, where you’ll find your Health, Stamina, Thirst and Hunger. You’ll want to keep an eye on these, particularly your health, as it can disappear rather quickly, especially if you’re being attacked by a mite which you can’t see because you thought you’d run into a dark place without a torch trying to recover your backpack of lost items after you died there previously. In the opposite right-hand corner you’ll see the item you have in your hand and the actions that you may be able to take with that item. Along the bottom centre of the screen is your quick slot items, so you can grab a bite to eat or swap weapons or tools quickly.
You will be able to collect resources which you can use later, either to craft and build other items, or as food and a source of fluid. Collecting things like 2 x Sprig, 3 x Plant Fibre and 1 x Pebblet will give you a Pebblet Spear when crafted. This is a basic weapon that can be used to stab, or even throw, to keep creatures from killing you. It won’t keep some of the bigger creatures from coming after you, but it’ll do for now. There are other weapons, like bows and arrows and other things, which you could use as a weapon. Crafting tools such as Hammers, Axes and Shovels can be used to collect various items that you would otherwise be unable to collect. Chopping down grass requires an axe; a hammer can be used to break rocks into pebbles or to break acorns apart.
As you find new resources, you’ll unlock more items to use for crafting, although sometimes not all craftable items are revealed. You can try and figure out what they are by visiting a Field Station and using the Resource Analyser to examine items. The Analyser will allow you to examine three items when fully charged (it will fully recharge in an hour). As well as gaining information on items and what can be crafted with them, you will also gain Raw Science Points. As you travel around the garden world, you may come across a neon pink bubble; collecting these will give you more Raw Science Points. You can then use these points to purchase upgrades such as Multi-Story and Fortified Bases. You will first have to collect enough points and then find Burg.L who will exchange your points for upgrading. Burg.L is a robot who used to make burgers, and not only will he take your points, he can also offer you some Quests. There are three new quests to complete each day and he’ll pay you in Raw Science Points for completing them.
As you progress you will unlock Mutations (which are hidden until you unlock them) by completing a Landmark of some kind. There are thirteen mutations to unlock and you can have up to three active mutations at any one time. Becoming a Grass Master will allow you to chop down grass with increasing ease. The Natural Explorer mutation will give you a better understanding of the lay of the land with each new landmark you uncover.
To survive, you’re going to need to find food and fluids. You can collect foods such as Mushrooms, Acorn Bits and Nectar which will satisfy your hunger a little. To replenish more of your empty stomach, you can collect meat from creatures you’ve killed, such as Aphids, Weevils, Grubs etcetera. However, eating their raw meat might not be the best thing to do, and the meat will also spoil after a short period of time. Cooking the meat will allow it to last a bit longer before it spoils. Eating cooked meats is safer and will satisfy more hunger than mushrooms etcetera.
You will also need to drink fluids, of which there are various types, although not all may be safe. You will find landmarks like Cans or Cartons of Soda around which droplets of soda can accumulate; you can choose to either drink the droplets now, or if you have a canteen, you can collect the droplets for those times when you are in need of a drink but there is no liquid within range. You can also find Dew drops around, sometimes on the ground and other times hanging onto a blade of grass. You can create a Water Container which will allow you to collect fluids for a later time. Creating a Dew Collector will also allow you to have a steady supply of Dew to drink.
There are eleven categories of items you can craft: Materials, Tools, Workbench Gear, Health and Snacks, Workbench Tools, Art, Base Building, Meal Prep, Utilities, Traps and Décor. There is also a Resources category which gives some information on any resource you have found. Crafting at the Workbench Gear will allow you to create gear for your Head, Body and Legs. There are different types of gear you can craft; crafting Clovers and Plant Fibres will give you a Clover Hood, Poncho and Shin Guards set. There is some information on any of the gear you may want to craft such as how defensive it is, and its bonuses. The Clover gear has the bonus of +Fuller so hunger will be slower when wearing this gear. If you wear the full set, you get the Set Bonus of Moist. You can make gear out of other resources like Ants, Mites, Aphids, Acorns etcetera which will give you different bonuses and stats.
At some point you’ll want to build a base from which you can venture out, store your resources, and be protected from the creatures that want to eat you, especially at night. You can use resources like Grass Planks to create the walls and floors, and Weed Stems to build your base, window and door frames etcetera. Other resources like Clay can be used to create a stronger foundation than weed stems. You can decorate and add essentials to your base with Lamps, Fences, Chairs, Tables, Art, Roasting Spit to cook your food, and a Mushroom Garden so you can grow mushrooms. Crafting Plank and Steam Pallets will allow you to store your grass planks and weed stems.
If you’re away from your base and it’s getting dark, you may want to get safe somewhere and ride out the dangerous night. You can craft a Lean-To; as they don’t take much to build, you can easily build and dismantle them or even leave them for the next time that you’re in the area. You can only sleep between the hours of 8pm and 6am. The other benefit of a Lean-To is that you can set it as a Respawn Point, so should you die, you’ll respawn at the Lean-To you have selected. This can be handy because if you do die you will lose all the resources, weapons, gear etcetera that you have collected. You can recollect those items, however, as they will be stored in a backpack waiting for you, which could save you a long and perilous journey back to fetch them.
I have only played the Medium setting of the game so far and have enjoyed it. A couple of times I had to go check myself after being caught unawares and attacked. While I was wanting to know where the Larvas were for a quest, then they went and scared the hell out of me while I was trying to pinpoint the location of a Field Station and was too busy looking at my Sca.b.
Another time I saw this spider and thought, “It’s not moving, it looks dead, lying still with its legs pulled up at its side”. So, thinking it was safe, I started to poke it, wondering what resources I would get. However, I was soon out of my chair when the spider started attacking me; it wasn’t dead after all! Instead of getting some nice new resources I was left trying to kill this bloody big spider with nothing more than a Pebblet Spear. I didn’t last long.
I built a couple bases, one of them near the starting point; it’s nothing special but it allowed me to keep my resources safe from the pesky Ants who were trying to raid my storage. The ants aren’t really that bad, or at least they haven’t been so far. I did kill one, which I discovered wasn’t a good thing to do, especially when other ants are around; their eyes turned red and I was attacked by about seven ants at once. Again, I didn’t last long before I was respawning. I thought might be fun to attack the Ladybird and find out what I could get from its dead carcass. It didn’t work out very well for me either; just like the ants, I made her mad and her eyes turned red. Even though I thought I had a better weapon, I didn’t think about how tough the Ladybird would be and again I got my botty spanked.
So yeah, I’ve enjoyed playing the game, being on edge as I search new areas and then collecting resources and building my base. I haven’t played co-op currently but that might change in the future; for now, I’m happy playing the single player campaign. I like the graphics and the sounds of the game and apart from getting stuck once and not being able to move (I had to restart the game), I haven’t had any other problems playing.
Review written by Piston Smashed™ for Zeepond.com!
Positives+ Looks and sounds good
+ Fun game
+ Multiple Difficulties
+ Single Player and Online Co-op
+ Has cards
Negatives- Had to restart game after getting stuck and being unable to move
- No achievements currently
Craft, build and survive as you search for answers in a world where everything wants to kill you, in Grounded
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Zeepond Rating: 8/10
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