Grounded Shrunk me Down for Big Fun

Back in my fun and frustration cycle with Lies of P, I decided to take a break and finally try Grounded. The game obviously takes some inspiration from the “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” movie series. As a kid of the 80’s, that inspiration was part of what intrigued me.

I avoided it near release, because it was an early access game and I knew “full release” patches were likely coming even after 1.0 dropped. Fast forward to all the drama around Grounded releasing for other platforms, it accelerated my interest to try it out now. I was not disappointed.

Honey I Shrunk the Kid

Grounded walking into the yard for the first time with sun shining through blades of grass

I’m sure Obsidian would rather people play Grounded with friends in coop mode. Well, I’m happy to report that it is also very much playable solo. I have zero doubt coop is the true way to play, but it is a long game that is hard to coordinate time with others.

Right from the start, I was hit with nostalgia of the “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” movie series. The menu items, sound effects and artwork definitely reminded me of the 80’s, as well. My Peter Boggs character (the small nerd) woke up in a metal lab case, shrunk down smaller than blades of grass. With no memory of what happened, it was time to start surviving.

Walking out of the ditch to see the sun shining through the blades of grass was an iconic moment. Those blades of grass appeared 2 stories tall in comparison to my character. I chose my “weak” character, because science!.

It’s a very good looking game with the sense of perspective so well done. The depth of field effect really help the yard seem huge. Sure the map is big, but the graphics really drive it home. Considering the theme of the game, the Pixar cartoon style is fitting.

Learning to the Rules and Story of Grounded

The game did a good job of walking me through some basic survival tips before jumping into the story. I found a mysterious machine that was obviously important to fix my small size. It was that whole series of events that directed me towards the Oak Lab.

On my way there, it was pretty trippy to see the large red ants that thankfully left me alone. I saw weevils and aphids on my journey to the tree, but seeing a giant yellow spider in the distance gave me chills. It was a natural instinct to avoid that web slinger.

Now I get why they have an arachnophobia mode that turns them into just colored blobs. Those chills I got prompted me to walk on top of the tree roots. When I had to cross a gap, I looked for leaves or sticks that I could walk across to the next root. No way I wanted to deal with those spiders early on.

My caution got me safely to the Oak Lab. It was damaged, but obviously once an impressive mini laboratory. It peaked my interest for what story will unfold from there.

Inside the lab, I met BURGL, the once burger flipping robot turned lab assistant and mission giver. He helped fill in a bit of story and gave me directions on what’s next. Between his explanations of the labs and the Raw Science pickups, I knew I was in for a great Sci Fi adventure.

Grounded Crafting

Looking at my First Grass House in Grounded while holding my axe

The story piqued my interested, but the crafting system is a huge draw in this game. It was early on in the crafting adventures that I knew this was likely going to be a 60 plus hour game for me. That’s despite knowing the 20ish hours to complete the main story.

I loved how crafting recipes unlocked. Once I picked up a new item, like stone or plant fiber, I could use the Resource Analyzer at the lab or at Field Stations. That process would reward me with Raw Science (game’s currency) and would unlock related recipes.

It seemed a very familiar system and I realized Grounded is likely where Abiotic Factor got it’s crafting system inspiration from. The scientist in me loved finding new materials or harvesting things using crafted tools. I enjoyed analyzing the new materials to see what I unlocked and hearing the machine yell “Raw Sccccience!” at me.

As with any other survival crafting game, my journey started with crafting a simple axe. I wasted no time cutting down blades of grass to analyze those. Fast forward many hours later and I setup my first grass house. Now I have to travel farther to find new materials, making those scientific discoveries all the more special.

It is a nice touch that each level of Raw Science I reach unlocks even more recipes. The ASL computers also allow me to spend Raw Science to unlock even more recipes. I want to build all the things. Having to travel longer distances, I really wish I had crafted the Aphid Slippers early.

That run speed wearing those is insane. I could have probably knocked a few hours off my playtime by traveling at that high speed. Instead of that obvious (well now) time saving, I focused on house building, armor and weapons.

Surviving in the Grounded Backyard

Grounded holding a knife in front of the Koi pond with oak tree in the background and roses

Crafting is deep, but so is the survival gameplay. Water and food are necessary. There’s plenty of puddles, but that is dirty water that could harm my health. The go to early on was knocking dew droplets off of blades of glass by hitting them.

Once I unlocked a water container, I used that to ensure I always carried extra water. Food wise, I lived on a lot mushrooms early on. Killing creatures often gave me raw meat, but that too made me sick. Once I unlocked the Roasting Spit, I could cook that meat to bring with me for my trips.

Crafting armor and weapons was essential to my survival. Even hours later, I still mostly rock my grub armor set of goggles, chest piece and shin guards. My tiny little nerd does not have a ton of strength or stamina, so that armor is the best fit for me, for now.

My favorite weapons are spears and bows to help keep my distance from scary creatures. Each weapon offers an option to block incoming attacks, complete with a perfect guard-like bonus. It actually gave me a tiny bit of PTSD from my Lies of P adventures.

Since my character seems to be asthmatic, stamina is one of my biggest enemies. It seems like he was constantly running out of breath. Running, jumping, swinging a tool or weapon, all drained my character’s stamina quick. Again, the super fast Aphid Slippers would have helped avoid the stamina issue.

Lucky for me in the early hours, I could improve my stats 2 ways: Mutations and Molars.


After running out of breath many times, I unlocked the Cardio Fan Mutation. I found out that just by doing a thing in Grounded enough times, I could unlock improvements to that. When I set that Mutation to active, my stamina was much better.

After using my trusty spear to defend myself from hostile creatures, I unlocked the Javelineer Mutation to improve damage when that’s active. I’m a big fan when games just naturally offer upgrades to something just through repetition. It’s more immersive than simply choosing where to spend XP points.

With 4 different loadout slots for Mutations, I could setup different builds for that current situation. I’m definitely a fan of this system.


After finding and busting teeth found in the backyard, it unlocked points to directly improve stats. This is just a new twist on the tried and true XP point spending system. I didn’t have the tools to bust many teeth early on, but had lucked out finding a tooth already broken open.

I spent it on health upgrades, but stamina should like have been my first choice.

Survival Depth

As my Grounded play hours ticked up, I got into the habit of carrying resources to build a Lean To and Roasting Spit. My adventures often took me far away from my grass house and darkness fell while I explored more. Not wanting to walk around in the dark, it was helpful to basically have camping equipment with me.

There’s a ton of bonuses for being hydrated, well fed, cozy and probably more. I don’t know exactly how all that works right now, but I know it’s there. Being too hungry or too thirsty will take a chunk out of stamina and eventually lead to death. Hence the need to prepare properly for any trip.

From my first hours of play, I can see the balance of choosing the right equipment for the right situation. There’s even smoothies and special foods that can temporarily improve certain stats. It can be a bit annoying to balance all the survival stuff, but when I prepared well it’s oh so satisfying.

Huge Grounded Adventures Ahead

There’s so much I look forward to sharing next time about the adventures I’ve had and the ones I will have. Some stories could be their own whole posts and then there’s the hours I spend building my first house. It’s also fitting that as this post goes live, Grounded will release it’s last big content patch.

I’m curious to see the extra hours the new patch adds to my playtime. Hopefully it improves the already satisfying gameplay. Glad that I waited and now can playthrough the best version of Grounded. Until next time, back to playing.

Leave a Comment