Grounded PS5 Review – Buggy, In a Good Way

Grounded PS5 Review

In retrospect, it seems like a no-brainer. Take a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids narrative and bolt it to survival crafting mechanics. It may be obvious in hindsight, but it took developer Obsidian’s Grounded a couple of years in early access before the game was ready for release. After living for two years as an Xbox/PC exclusive, Grounded has landed on PS5 and other consoles. Happily, Sony and Nintendo fanboys and girls can join the fun and see what all the well-deserved fuss was about.

Down to Size Adventuring

You can read COGconnected’s original review here. Grounded has a more than serviceable story. You play as one of four kids who have been inadvertently miniaturized and must survive in the suburban backyard jungle. The goal, of course, is escape and a return to normal size. This is where the game’s surprisingly deep survival, crafting, and combat mechanics come in.

The first thing you’ll notice is just how smartly the game has taken the miniature world and applied it to familiar RPG mechanics. Ant tunnels become danger-filled caves. Small garden pools become lakes. Discarded devices like Walkman tape decks provide life-saving technology and shelter. There are too many cool little ideas to mention, like being able to farm aphids for food or noticing how a small backyard has become a sprawling, open world map.

Let’s not overlook that, maybe for the first time in RPG history, it makes logical sense to battle giant wolf spiders. Not to mention ants, wasps, and small mammals. For the arachnophobes, there are accessibility settings to reduce the realism. For all its family-friendly vibes, Grounded doesn’t shy away from enemies lurking in the shadows, the threat of starvation, or challenging combat. Something to consider before handing the controller over to very young kids.

Have It Your Way

Played solo, Grounded can be a pretty difficult game. It takes a long time to learn the game’s mechanics and climb the tech tree. That’s not to suggest that it’s opaque or poorly designed, but the early hours require some patient grinding. Played in co-op, the experience transforms into the game it was probably meant to be. The new console releases support cross-play with Xbox and PC, so your friends with those versions can join you.

But the narrative mode isn’t the only way to experience Grounded. You can also play in creative or custom modes that focus more on crafting and survival. There are many ways to tailor Grounded’s challenge. You can take a very exacting and danger-filled game and dial it back to a chill crafting and exploration-focused good time. While the character creator is pretty basic, most of your time will probably be spent in first-person mode anyway. Overall, the game’s accessibility settings are quite extensive.


Evergreen Art

Although after four years, Grounded’s graphics are slightly showing their age, the game’s cartoony, Pixar-style realism still looks great. Everything is vibrant, colorful, and detailed. A lot of attention has been paid to insect authenticity, not just visually, but in terms of habitats, behavior, and relationships to other life in the environment. The game’s story and acting are good, though the world and its challenges take center stage.

Environmental audio carries quite a bit of responsibility in selling the miniature world. After all, who really knows what aphids chomping on grass sounds like? The game’s music is a bit understated but what you’d expect. It’s by turns gentle, tuneful, or ominous.

Still a Winner

Making its way to PS5 and Switch, it’s only a little disappointing that Grounded didn’t bring along a lot of new content, though it does include all updates, new ant queens, and a new game+ mode. Grounded is still an excellent and unique survival game. Its big-world crafting RPG mechanics scale down to miniature size quite well and there are a ton of ways to make the game your own. Like their PC and Xbox counterparts, Sony and Nintendo fans of the survival/crafting genre will not be disappointed by Grounded.

***PS5 code provided by the publisher for review***

The Good

  • Clever gameplay and world
  • Beautiful environments
  • Fun co-op survival
  • Lots of customization

The Bad

  • Not much new content for PS5 or Switch
  • Can be challenging