Grounded Review (PS5) | Push Square


As we continue to see walls being torn down between platforms, more people are getting exposed to former exclusives than ever before. On the PlayStation side, we’re getting our first look at Grounded, formerly only available to Xbox and PC players for the last four years. If you’re not in the Xbox ecosystem, you might not know much about the game, so allow us to get you up to speed: Grounded is a highly involved cooperative survival game that will encapsulate you and your friends as you endure the horrors of being the size of a bug.

At its heart, Grounded is essentially the video game version of the movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. A group of kids have been shrunk down to the size of an ant and forced to fight for their survival in someone’s backyard. For the regular-sized person, there’s nothing to worry about here. There’s a nice tree in the centre, a woodshed, a small pond, and other typical things you expect to see in a yard. However, in this situation, danger is everywhere. Spiders continually make their threat known. Walking alongside that pond will have you under constant assault from mosquitoes. Interfering with ants can have a colony working together to bring you down. There’s nowhere to go that feels truly safe.

While survival is the main course in Grounded, there is a story should you want to pursue it. The backyard you are in belongs to a scientist who developed the shrinking technology that put you and your friends in this predicament. Exploring the many miniature bases hidden throughout the yard will have you picking away at the story. None of it is a truly masterful piece of storytelling, but it does keep you moving forward instead of blindly walking around the area. Hearing your characters crack jokes as they interact with various elements makes them enjoyable to be around, but the character complexity isn’t what you come to this game for.

Survival in Grounded is a constantly evolving process. At first, you’ll likely have a pretty basic hut made of grass that’s easily torn down by bugs, so you’re under constant pressure to keep bettering yourself. Sometimes, that means grinding through bug parts for better weapons and armour. Other times, it’s experimenting with buffs from food and filling your base with various necessities. The constant need to better yourself always gives you something to do, even if you don’t want to pursue the story. There’s always a bigger threat to take on that demands you prepare for the worst.

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One of the biggest problems with most survival games is the learning curve for beginners. In the case of Grounded, things at first are a bit tedious as you come to grips with building a base and maintaining your hunger and thirst while fighting off bugs. At first, the situation can feel like banging your head against the wall, especially if you choose the wrong spot to build your base. For example, the first base we built during the day seemed pretty good. It was near the tree right by the pond — a centralized area of the yard. However, when nighttime came around, a wolf spider would constantly patrol through and absolutely devastate our peaceful spot. Those kinds of moments can be very disheartening and make you consider how much worth building a new base has. With that being said, Grounded does a pretty good job of leading you on a path to learn how to craft the proper items you need to survive. That doesn’t mean you won’t stumble a few times as you run into something way bigger and stronger than you, but it’s at least a little more forgiving for newcomers than some survival games.

Luckily, there are all kinds of settings to adjust your experience to be more suitable for how you want to play. You have the standard difficulties that affect health and how hard enemies hit, but creative and custom modes give you a huge breath of freedom to play however you want. You can leave bugs out of the world, have them completely ignore players, stop food from spoiling, and so many other things. Grounded is dedicated to giving you the best possible experience they want, regardless of your mastery of survival games, crafting systems, and dealing with bug threats.

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As a whole, Grounded is a great deal of fun because of all the little things it gets right. There are no other games on the market that give you that Honey, I Shrunk the Kids feel. It’s unique, with an art style that looks great at every turn. Every location you find new bugs in is bustling with new challenges and opportunities for progression. Grass blades that look larger than life in your shortened perspective have a heft to them that gives a feeling of foundation for your building. Even for people who don’t get squeamish around bugs, running into these creepy crawlies can send a shiver up your spine. This kind of visceral feeling makes Grounded unique in a way that keeps you coming back even if you don’t want to.


Grounded is the perfect survival game to jump into with friends. It tests you constantly, but isn’t too hard to the point that you want to turn it off. Now that the game has come to PlayStation in addition to other platforms, it’s more approachable than ever and a high recommendation for anyone looking for a different kind of experience than the usual.

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