Everything old is new again. That’s Grounded, based on the short demo I just played as part of Steam’s Summer Games Festival. A bit of exploration, a bit of crafting, some clumsy first-person combat. A world of interesting things to investigate that gradually expands in every direction. This is hardly new. But that world! Huge blades of grass rising overhead. Pausing beneath a canopy of clover. A building on the horizon, a sheer white wall, and when you approach it’s a thing of Tic-Tacs dropped in the earth. The sell for Grounded is so simple: it’s Honey I Shrunk the Kids, a bunch of you in the backyard suddenly no bigger than ants. But that simple sell is also completely transformative. The world of Grounded is magical.
I start the demo underground, soft earth leading off in several directions. I wander for a bit, picking up stems of smaller plants and eventually find a small geodesic dome – a place where I can analyse the things I find. My job is just to explore for now, explore and gather things and work out what’s nearby. I see ants, and a ladybug that I absolutely refuse to mess with. I round a corner and golden sunlight lances through the grass – grass which is so thick I’m going to need a tool to cut through it.
The main bulk of the demo as I played it appears to be a gadget on the lawn that I’m trying to get reactivated. It has computer chips and a mother board inside – a terrain that I can literally walk around on top of – and three lasers that connect to it to power it up. Some of the lasers are blocked, and unblocking them is the obvious mission.