Obsidian’s latest project, Grounded, launched on Xbox Game Pass and Steam Early Access today. It’s a whimsical action-survival game where players are shrunk down and forced to survive in a suburban backyard, working together to build bases and weapons, fight off insects, and scavenge supplies.
It’s a departure from the usual Obsidian RPG, but still a fascinating and gorgeous experience. Revealed in November 2019 and releasing a demo through Xbox Insider in June, Grounded is something truly surreal. You’ll rove through ant tunnels, swim through lakes, and explore mysterious structures hidden deep within the backyard, all while scanning items in order to discover new crafting recipes.
“We tackled the size question as game designers and game developers,” said game director Adam Brennecke to GamesRadar. “We want to be able to fight insects, so the player has to be somewhat similar in scale to your standard ant. In Honey I Shrunk the Kids, the ant is huge. So we were like, ‘Well, if that’s your first creature that you encounter, you can’t expect a player to battle that thing in combat.'” Grounded also has many accessibility features, like colorblind support and larger text, but the most notable is its “arachnophobia safe mode”.
In a game that takes place in a backyard, there’ll obviously be spiders – and when you’ve shrunken down to about the size of an ant and stuck using items like baseballs and rakes as landmarks, spiders will clearly pose a sizable threat. That’s why the Grounded team researched what triggers arachnophobia in an effort to make the game more accessible to all players. Using a slider scale, players can remove the spider’s legs or fangs, change the spider’s shape, or turn it into the rather cute little spider blob pictured above. It’s a small but meaningful gesture that shows Obsidian designed the game to be fun and engaging for all players.