Game Review: Grounded

  • Reviews

I enjoy survival games, but they are not usually my go to type. However, when I first loaded up Grounded, I was instantly hooked. It had the perfect mix of comical fun and horror to it. After I played for around 5 hours, I was dying to review it for The Independent Horror Society, but I knew I had to finally get an ending beforehand so I could also talk about the complete story.

Poster for Grounded. A computer animation of 4 people standing on a leaf above grass.

As I said I am not a massive fan of survival games, but the thing that caught my attention of Grounded was the spiders! I have a huge fear of them and was interested when I saw a short clip of someone jumping out of their skin playing it. I must confess, I didn’t think the same would happen to me, but then… I played it! I had recently purchased Xbox Live on my computer and Grounded was free on it, so I knew I had to give it a try.

When you first load up the game and make a new world (you can have multiple saves), you get to choose from four characters, so I went with Pete voiced by Max Mittelman as he seemed intelligent. I thought it might give me a bonus in intellect that would help me survive! I later found out they are all the same (worth a try!).

Grounded begins with a cut scene showing a tv with a fake version of He-man playing, making the time frame to be 1980-1990. Being shrunk to the size of an ant, you travel through a garden seeing different bugs as you zoom past. Then a metal case falls with a parashoot, and you climb out.

A red eyed spider in the grass. Still from the game Grounded.

I knew what to at the start of the game, because of my prior survival game knowledge. There is a tutorial of how to walk, jump and use items, but the rest is up to you to figure out. Once you get tools made from pebbles you must go fix a cable of a machine. Then a big explosion happens, and if you head towards it, you meet my second favourite character BURG.L voiced by Josh Brener.

Dr. Wendell Tully (Zachary Levi) is a failing scientist, and also my favourite character, who had recently built his first good invention, The SPACE.R, a shrinking device that Tully used to research his new discovery, Raw science.

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As the player, your initial mission is to go to the first of four main labs, The Hedge lab. This for me was one of the scariest parts of the game as all through the lab are spiderlings, orb weaver jrs and orb weavers (there is one wolf spider which is avoidable). They are incredibly realistic spiders and all of them have a lunge attack making you jump out of your seat when they sneak up on you. The music that goes with them is also very unsettling. At night in this game the music is perfect for the atmosphere as it sounds like a hero going on a journey to find his way home, but also has undertones that hints there is something always lurking out of sight.

Computer animation of a person holding up a torch, looking at lots of huge spiders in the foggy distance.

The creatures of Grounded look terrifying. From the massive spider brood mother to the little spiderlings, all have made me jump at some point through out this game. A ladybird even managed to scare me as it jumped out at me from round a corner. It’s twice the size of the player! Don’t judge me until you have played it.

There are four main bosses in the game, but you can go through it without seeing one as they are only there for loot. All of the boss locations are secret, but you will know it when you find it.

As the story progresses and you go to other labs, you learn of a deadly side affect of the SPACE.R. Tully states that he has started looking old and his doctors say he is in perfect health for someone twenty years older than himself. He calls the process “raisining” as he shrivels up like a raisin. He ends up going completely insane and hides himself away under his shed to work on a cure.

Grounded is amazing and I would play it repeatedly, but there are some minor issues with it that I have. First, the inventory is very impractical. I found myself having to go to the length of dying to drop a backpack of loot and going back to get more resources as it was easier than running back and forth. Secondly, I think that the bombs are extremely unfair to make in the game, as they rely on the ants going back to the nest to make the eggs needed, but the ants will commonly get stuck in places. So you must go round killing them all to get them to respawn.

A large teal spider with purple swirly eyes. Still from the game Grounded.

Other than that, the game is great fun. The story is in depth and engaging and the graphics are great, particularly the models of insects. The user interface takes a little getting used to, but survival fans will have no issue and, for everyone else, it will just take a little time.

Whether you’re into survival games or not, it’s a blast for all since it’s multiplayer, meaning you can get scared with your friends. It may not be creepy for everyone, but if you are a fan of jump scares and are unnerved by insects and spiders, Grounded is the game for you.

7.5 / 10

Grounded is available on Xbox Game Pass. 

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