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Video Game / Grounded

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Grounded is a survival game developed by Obsidian Entertainment for PC and Xbox One, released in Early Access on June 28, 2020.

Described by some as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids meets Minecraft, it involves a group of teenagers waking up, only to find themselves the size of ants and stranded in a backyard. The players must gather food, water and supplies, build shelter, and fight off hostile insects and spiders as they work to return to their normal size.

However, as the players explore the backyard, they soon discover that they may not be the first ones reduced in size...


The game provides examples of:

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: The "Mithridatism" mutation gained by killing wolf spiders reduces the damage spider venom does to you.
  • Action Bomb: Infected Weevils have a tendency to charge up to you and explode, dealing damage. Infected larvae are similar, except they're immune to their own explosions and thus can explode repeatedly, which is not a fun thing to hang out next to.
  • Adjustable Censorship: Hate spiders? The developers were nice enough to put in an Arachnaphobe Safe Mode setting as a slider to make the spiders less like spiders. At its maximum setting, the spiders appear as grey orbs. They'll still try to eat your face.
  • Ant Assault: Ants are some of the most regular enemies the player can encounter. They will demolish the player's encampments to eat any food the player has stored and swarm the player when they get hostile.
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  • Antlion Monster: Introduced in the Hot and Hazy update, Antlions are exclusive to the Sandbox biome, and are formidable Lightning Bruisers that can burrow underground and emerge underneath you, dealing heavy damage and stunning you briefly.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Raw Science, a physical manifestation of scientific research, is awarded for analyzing crafting materials and finding rare pickups in the overworld, and is currently used as currency to trade with BURG.L for crafting recipes, mutations and upgrades to your equipment.
  • Artificial Brilliance: While their pathfinding leaves a little to be desired overall, if a harmless non-flying insect cannot reach you, it will attempt to run away from you if you try and shoot it with arrows from a distance. If a hostile non-flying insect cannot reach you, and they have enough room to do so, they will attempt to jump to your position, preventing easy kills with the bow and arrow
  • Artistic License – Physics: There are the standard violations of the Square-Cube Law usually found in Mouse World settings, but in particular the concept of chopping grass with an axe. Even if we assume the shrunken humans could still put enough force behind their chop, grass and weed stems are simply too flexible to be chopped in the same way that a tree trunk is chopped. A slicing implement like a knife would be far more useful. Of note, the koi pond update added a slicing tool in the form of the dagger... but it's also animated as chopping.
  • Benevolent Architecture: Several backyard tools, twigs, leaves and branches are deliberately placed in areas to keep the player from getting stuck in crevices they can't otherwise get back out of, most notably in the Haze area, which features dozens of steep chasms that are otherwise insurmountable from within, if not for some conveniently-placed rock piles and twig branches.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Ants, weevils, mites, aphids, and ladybugs wander around the backyard. They're actually normal sized creepy crawlies, but you've been shrunk down to their level so they appear huge to you.
  • Blocking Stops All Damage: Applies when blocking with a shield, which prevents you from being damaged by almost any attack, but you'll take a stamina penalty if it isn't a perfect block.
  • Body Horror: In the Haze section of the yard, you can find and fight insects that are infected with some sort of parasitic fungus, likely based on cordyceps. These insects have Mind-Control Eyes and their bodies are grotesquely covered in fungal growths. It's unclear whether the Haze (which is actually pesticide being sprayed from a bug bomb in the yard) is supposed to be killing the plagued insects... or if it's somehow causing them.
    • Exploring the Haze Lab reveals that Dr Tully had the area drenched in the weed killer due to an experiment with raw science and cordyceps that went very wrong and broke out, forcing Dr Tully to break a hole in the weed killer tank to allow the weed killer to contain the fungus
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Infected ladybugs and weevils. The regular ones are passive bugs who won't hurt you unless you attack them first (weevils won't hurt you at all, running away if you strike them). Infected ones have the same purple, swirly eyes as all other infected creatures, and also like them will attack on sight.
  • Break Meter: Defending with a weapon or shield fills up a block meter, which staggers you if it fills completely.
  • Breakable Weapons: The crafted tools and weapons have durability meters.
  • Brown Note: The hiss of an orb weaver spider can slow the player, reminiscent of the shriek of a ReDead.
  • Cosmetic Award: Tracking down lost SCAB bracelets gives you new color schemes for your own SCAB.
  • Deadly Gas:
    • One section of the backyard (Known as The Haze) is covered in yellow-tinged weed killer, which will sap your life unless you craft and equip a gas mask. You can get rid of the haze by plugging the hole at the top of the container with gum.
    • Stinkbugs will use bursts of harmful gas as an attack, though this can also be countered using a gas mask.
  • Death World: You're the size of an ant and have no natural protection from the many nasty critters out for your blood. An ordinary backyard becomes a hostile, predator-filled landscape.
  • Decapitation Presentation: One cave in the game is filled with ant heads on pikes, along with the skeleton of a shrunken person with several bones removed and used to make an effigy on the wall. You can follow suit with the remains of insects you've killed.
  • Doing Research: Science Stations, tiny domed structures, contain an Analyzer. Players can bring materials to the analyzer to gain science points and unlock new crafting recipes.
  • Down in the Dumps: The Trash Heap biome, located in the southwest part of the map. Toxic fumes emit from the rotting food in this area, making it dangerous to traverse without a gas mask on hand. This is also where the Black Anthill dungeon is located.
  • Equipment Upgrade: The Smithing Station is used to upgrade tools and weapons with quartzite, making them both deadlier and more durable with each tier of upgrade applied.
  • Fiendish Fish: It's a koi fish, and actually it's just regular size... which means it's basically a megalodon compared to you, and is more than happy to dine on tiny human meat.
  • Gang Up on the Human: Spiders only ever want to attack you, and will stroll right past other bugs (except stinkbugs) without even acknowledging them. Other bugs aren't as picky, though, as you'll sometimes see ants going after weevils or ladybugs going after aphids. Spiders in the Haze will also be challenged by its infected inhabitants.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The four playable characters consist of two boys and two girls.
  • Gentle Giant: Ladybugs and Sickly Roly-Polies will only attack you if you attack them first. The crow, hundreds of times your size, won't attack you at all.
  • Giant Food: Discarded normal-sized food and drink is scattered around the backyard. Players can slurp up drops of discarded soda and juice, but will need upgraded tools in order to harvest any solid food.
  • Giant Spider: The spiders are normal sized, but compared to you, they're the size of trucks. They move just as fast and hit just as hard as trucks too.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Collecting all the scattered B.U.R.G.L. chips is the primary reason to exlore the yard. Each one restores crafting and building recipes to his memory, which he will then sell you.
  • Harmful to Minors: All of the playable characters are young teenagers who are forced to hunt and fight tooth and nail to survive against towering hostile insects and arachnids several times their new size.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Sleeping spiders of both types make guttural, disturbing breathing noises reminiscent of a xenomorph. Hearing that sound and not knowing where the spider is is a terrifying experience.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: The player characters, massively reduced in size. Since the distance measurements are in centimeters rather than meters, this puts the kids at less than an inch tall.
  • Improvised Armor / Improvised Weapon: The players can craft clothes, armor, tools and weapons from grass, acorns, and even bug remains.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: There is a day/night cycle, and players can build shelters/beds to sleep through the night, but you can only sleep if your tired, and if you attempt to sleep at a time where you’ll wake up between 11pm and 5am (ie: while it’s still dark out) the game will warn you of the fact.
  • Item Crafting: Players can craft tools and weapons from harvested resources, such as axes, spears, hammers, and bows with arrows.
  • King Mook: The Hedge Broodmother, a boss spider, is modeled after a demon orb weaver, and summons smaller orb weavers during the fight with her; she's essentially a queen orb weaver, which, while perhaps not scientifically accurate, makes for a fun, intense boss fight.
  • The Little Detecto: A small direction-finder pops out of your HUD whenever you are near a Science Station, and bits of Raw Science with an upgrade.
  • Life Drain: The Mosquito Needle rapier heals you slightly as you deal damage with it.
  • Lord British Postulate: The game's largest creatures at the moment, the Koi Fish and the Crow, cannot be killed by the player. Their primary function is as a resource sink for Crow Feathers and Koi Fish Scales, which are used in many crafting recipes, although the Koi Fish does serve somewhat of a Border Patrol role and will try to attack you and eat you if you swim too close to it.
  • Magic Ampersand: A game of "Minotaurs & Myrmidons" is set up on the picnic table. A sourcebook serves as a ramp to reach the top of the table, and the game board has a maze that the player must navigate to find the Minotaur Key.
  • Mainlining the Monster: Many crafting and construction recipes utilize insect parts for their Mundane Utility. For instance, bombardier beetle legs are sturdy and have conveniently-sized segments, and are often used to provide structural integrity. Gnat, mite, and bee fuzz can be used as stuffing for plush toys.
  • Meaningful Background Event: The players first start by waking up next to a small box with human cut-outs in a foam liner. There are four players. There are five cut-outs in the box.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Insects that are infected by the parasitic fungus found in the Haze have eyes that are pink and purple and swirly; all these insects do is mindlessly attack.
  • Moral Guardians: Joked about in game. Apparently they're not fans of the crime-and-punishment-themed Punch-O brand juice boxes. Finding the Lemon Crime Punch-O box prompts the player character to exposit that this flavor in particular got a lot of complaints. The kids don't seem to be happy about that fact.
  • Mouse World: The Game. The entire point is to explore and survive in someone's back yard when you've shrunk to the size of an ant.
  • Nemean Skinning: The player can make armor out of the parts of various backyard critters, and gains special abilities from doing so, and even more for wearing a matching set.
  • Not Quite Flight: The players can use dandelion seeds as makeshift parachutes, allowing them to drift and glide to the ground from high places. Dandelion seeds also have durability meters so be mindful of how much you use them.
  • Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles: The Koi Pond update added swimming including bubbles that refill the Oxygen Meter.
  • Planimal: Muscle sprouts, one of the inventions of Dr. Tully, is a brussel sprout crossbred with meat fibers. Apparently it tastes like beef liver and goes great with onions. It’s used to make stronger potions, or as food in an emergency.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Venom Arrows can be crafted using poison scavenged from slain bugs. The larva blade and spider fang dagger also carry poison in them, due to being made from parts of venomous critters.
  • Punny Name:
  • Rare Candy: Milk Molars can be brought to BURG.L to increase your health and stamina, lower the rate of food and hunger drain, and increase the amount of mutations you can have active at once. The rarer Mega Milk Molars are used to increase stack sizes for crafting resources, consumables and ammunition.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Hostile insects attacking the player will have their (compound) eyes glow bright red. It's even visible at night. The only exceptions are bugs that don't have eyes, such as garden mites.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: Players must manage their food and water intake, gather supplies, and make tools to survive in the backyard.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Aphids are cat-sized (compared to you) green bugs with big, adorable eyes that give a comically shocked expression when they see you. Players can tame them as pets by feeding them and make them wear little hats... or kill them and eat their roasted corpses.
  • Roar Before Beating: Hostile bugs will give a battle screech before attacking. Orb Weaver Spiders in particular will rear back in a threat display and give a loud hiss before charging forward to eat your face, giving you a chance to Run for your life. As of the Hot & Hazy update, the orb weaver's screech debuffs the player's running speed, making it harder to escape them.
  • Robot Buddy: B.U.R.G.L, a repurposed burger-flipping robot, is found by the players, and in the demo he vows to help the players return to normal.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The Sandbox biome, accessible via an entryway from the Black Anthill. You constantly suffer sizzling damage in this area during the day, which is mitigated by finding shelter, crafting gear out of Antlion parts or consuming specific meals.
  • Shout-Out: Relatively close to the house, you can find an action figure of Rash from Battletoads; doing so triggers a landmark notification that uses the game's logo and the original NES game's iconic pause "music".
  • Shrink Ray: The actual shrinking device itself isn't too far from the player's starting point in the Demo version. Getting it to actually, legitimately function long enough to re-size the players, however, is an entirely different kettle of fish, and much harder to boot.
  • Status Effects:
    • Hit a bug hard enough and you'll stun it, complete with circling stars dancing over their heads.
    • Wolf spider bites poison the player, which is one of the most deadly things about them, since poison damage ignores defense. After killing one, the player can poison their arrows, allowing them to poison foes... including wolf spiders. Killing five wolf spiders unlocks the Mithridatism mutation, which grants poison immunity (and makes the Broodmother fight much easier).
  • Surprise Creepy: The game is a bright, colorful Mouse World survival game with absolutely no bloody violence. Then you find the camp of another survivor who died long enough ago that nothing is left but his skeleton, along with a dozen or so ant heads mounted on toothpicks and a macabre effigy crafted from ant torsos and the bones of another human being.
  • Underground Monkey: As of the Hot and Hazy update, there are two varieties of ant, red and black. The latter are exclusive to the westernmost parts of the map, and have more health and deal more damage than their red counterparts.
  • Utility Weapon: Some of the various tools the players can craft are, while intended for usage in resource gathering, are also usable as functional weapons.
    • Axes are required for chopping down grass, but can be thrown as a last ditch effort.
    • Hammers are needed to smash apart tougher resources, like acorns, sap and rocks, but also have the highest stun chance of any weapon or tool.
    • Shovels are mostly used to dig up grubs, although the higher-tier shovels get more use once you reach the western areas of the yard.
  • The Worf Effect: In the Broodmother's lair, as players progress through to the boss room, they'll encounter numerous corpses of the various insects that have been kicking their asses all game, trussed up in the web walls; the Broodmother is so big and tough that she preys on things that can tear a player to shreds.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Granola Bars refill your hunger and heal a substantial amount of health instantly. However, they are found in very finite supply throughout the yard, mostly in the lab dungeons, so they usually go uneaten in favor of other food items.
  • Zerg Rush: Mites are fragile and do little damage, but are also very fast and attack in swarms. One alone isn't a threat, but when you're fighting twelve or fifteen, you can easily get overwhelmed.