Monday, January 23, 2023

Tech: Grounded

Obsidian is best known for developing RPGs like Fallout: New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity, and they brought those sensibilities to one of their latest titles, Grounded. It's an open-world survival crafting game about four teens mysteriously shrunken down to ant size and abandoned in a treacherous backyard.  They'll need to scavenge for food and water, fight bus-sized insects, and figure out a way home:

Don't be fooled by the Pixar aesthetic and whimsical, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids-esque premise - in the early going, Grounded is just as unforgiving as any other survival title. You start with no equipment and no chance against the terrifying wolf spiders and stinkbugs roaming the garden, so you are naturally forced to explore to get stronger. It all leads to a satisfying role reversal when you've finally crafted enough weapons, armor, and items to go toe-to-toe with the badder insects in the yard.

I went through Grounded co-op with a friend, and the game works astonishingly well in that mode, probably better than any survival game I've ever played. Ironically (and refreshingly for an Obsidian game), there weren't too many bugs to deal with.  Hosting and joining games is seamless, and character upgrades and collectibles are shared and saved for each character (so no one "loses out" if a quest is completed when they miss a session).  More fundamentally, the game's environments and enemies naturally encourage players to specialize their builds, so each player can meaningfully contribute.  Co-op adventures/RPGs are hard to find these days, and Grounded is one of the best ones out there.

Rating: 90/100


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