So, you’ve found yourself longing to embrace the dangers of the outside world, eh? Well, as it turns out, fortune favors the bold, as does it offer such opportunities to those who are willing to compress themselves into bug-sized creatures no larger than a toddler’s thumb. And while we’re on the subject of such opportunities, it is indeed worth pointing out that there are, realistically speaking, two perfect offers to snatch up right here and now: Grounded, and Smalland: Survive the Wilds.
So, which of the aforementioned survival-crafting IPs should you willingly throw yourself into first? Well, if you are relatively new to the rather niche concept, then be sure to read on for a few more details on the matter. Grounded, or Smalland: Survive the Wilds? Let’s dive right in.
What Is Grounded?
To cut to the chase, Grounded is a survival-crafting game in which players are forced to endure the consequences of being a shrunken human in an oversized backyard. As a bug-sized hero, players must set out to create a new world—a community, even, where even the smallest folks can withstand the elements of the natural environment. There’s combat, crafting, and more than enough customization to keep avid builders plowing forward for days, weeks, and even months on end. What’s more, with developer Obsidian Entertainment being relatively active in the game’s progression, players can most definitely expect to see even more content grace the backyard over the coming years. So that’s good.
What Is Smalland: Survive the Wilds?
In a similar fashion as Grounded, the concept of Smalland: Survive the Wilds is all about survival. Moreover, it’s all about facing a world as a bug-sized humanoid—a critter, to most, who sits at the very bottom of the food chain. As such, players must venture out of their comfort zones and embrace what lurks beyond the foliage. Again, there’s plenty of combat, crafting, and biomes to explore and scavenge. So again, like Grounded, but with a few of its own bells and whistles, to boot. But more on that shortly.
Story & Lore
While both games have vastly different biomes to explore and secrets to unravel, the stories are, more or less, one and the same. That said, where in Grounded you take on the role of an everyday human who’s been shrunken to the size of a bug, Smalland instead starts you off as a bite-sized humanoid—a character who’s sent to return to the surface after the “Giants” have left all but the natural habitat behind.
Of course, the goal behind both games is one and the same: survive. Gameplay-wise, each title tasks players with building shelters, sourcing food, and crafting weapons and armors to withstand the elements and the critters that also call the world their home by birthright. As newcomers to these worlds, you must learn to adapt to their ways, and essentially do all in your power to find a foothold on the food chain, and more importantly, the circle of life.
So, which of the two tells the better story? Well, given the fact that Grounded has, after several years of fine tuning, reached its final destination, and is finally in possession of a complete storyline, we have to give credit where it’s due. Having said that, Smalland, even in its early access phase, has already managed to create something substantial and sustainable, which means we’ve still got a great deal to look forward to in future updates. If you’re after the whole “package”, though, then you’re better off picking up Grounded — if only to allow Smalland the chance to grow, so to speak.
Both survival-crafting games at heart, it’s easy to see why so many compare the two against one another. For the most part, you spend your in-game hours working to survive the day-to-day, using your basic survival instincts to unravel portions of key biomes and scavenge for the resources needed to survive. Like a lot of survival games, you begin both journeys with little more than the clothes on your back, which you are then asked to upgrade into an arsenal of armors, weapons, and other basic cosmetics.
Aside from the gathering of resources and other key materials, both games also offer an extensive range of consumable items, which are of course needed to keep your character afloat. To obtain such items, players are forced to either pick berry bushes, or engage in combat with other creatures for meats and other cookable pieces. Not a whole lot is different here, to be fair, nor is the combat experience, in general, which mostly consists of swinging makeshift weapons around in a typical bat-and-parry fashion. Easy to learn, but difficult to master, in most cases.
The good news is, from a mechanical standpoint, both games run incredibly smoothly, and without any major technical hitches or issues to disrupt the overall immersion. To this end, it’s hard to recommend one over the other, as both more or less have strong UIs and frameworks. But again—and I almost hate to say it—as Grounded has received thrice as many updates and patches in its run, the product as a whole definitely looks a lot cleaner, and performs better than the items on Smalland: Survive the Wilds’ docket.
We’ll give Smalland: Survive the Wilds the benefit of the doubt and say that, as a game that’s still a long ways from seeing its finalized version, it is a generally fantastic survival game in all, and one that you’ll want to keep tabs on, too. That said, as Grounded is more complete than the former, it’s certainly a lot easier to dive right into what it has to offer without any major setbacks or progression walls.
On another hand, you shouldn’t ignore Smalland, either, as the experience it has already conjured is more than enough to see you through your first dozen or more hours. Truth is, if you’re a lover of all things miniature, and long for an adventure that takes place in a vast open world, then you can’t really go wrong with either of the two.
So, what’s your take? Have you picked a favorite yet? Do you have any useful tips for Grounded or Smalland: Survive the Wilds’ newcomers? Let us know your thoughts over on our socials here.