Look!

Grounded developers reveal secret inspirations behind its incredible art

Small but mighty

Obsidian

Obsidian

After two years in early access, Obsidian Entertainment’s Grounded 1.0 launched on September 27. Grounded casts you as an itty-bitty adventurer exploring the dangerous world of your backyard.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and other ‘90s movies are a clear inspiration, but there’s more going on than just nostalgia. For the release of 1.0, some of Grounded’s developers shared a closer look at its art with Inverse.

Obsidian

Starting with those ‘90s inspirations, the dense foliage and massive trees of Grounded made the cover art from Secret of Mana a natural inspiration, as associate world builder Kiel Evins points out.

Hiro Isono/Square Enix

Senior artist John Lewis points to Grounded’s lighting as a particularly proud achievement.

Art director Kazunori Aruga specifically shouted out Lewis’ lighting work in the barbecue area (which resembles once-ubiquitous lava levels in games like Super Mario Bros.)

Obsidian

Perfecting Grounded’s sense of scale was a challenge, Lewis says. Instead of a tiny player character, the team built a humungous world and doubled the game’s gravity so miniscule objects didn’t behave like they’re the size of skyscrapers.

Sean Dunny/Obsidian
Craftable armor in Grounded looks distinctly like the natural materials it’s scrounged from, with some great stylistic twists.Ian Randall/Obsidian

“We didn't want our crafted equipment to be sticks and stones like almost all survival games start with,” character artist Ian Randall tells Inverse. “Eventually, [senior artist] John Lewis did a concept for a new axe involving a sprig, and we just went from there.”

Ian Randall/Obsidian

“I leaned pretty hard into Monster Hunter for inspiration.”

- Ian Randall, Character Artist

Capcom

Artists also shared their personal favorite parts of working on Grounded.

Paul Fish/Obsidian

“I love when I get to brainstorm silly product names so that [artist Mitch Loidolt] can invent fun logos for me to use.”

- Paul Fish, Assistant Art Director

Fish also explained the “yeet” symbol seen on packaging in Grounded, which excludes “reduce and reuse” from the recycling logo.

Obsidian

“Ominent would never want you to reduce consumption or reuse anything.”

Obsidian

“Minotaur Maze Key was my favorite thing to work on...”

- Brianna Boyette, Environment Artist

Brianna Boyette/Obisidian

“and it is 100% because of the bellybutton.”

- Brianna Boyette, Environment Artist

“The crab is a personal victory of mine because I just kind of did that and jammed it into the game...”

- Sean Dunny, Lead Environment Artist

“the entire time, [art director Kazunori Aruga] was like, ‘I don't know about this.’”

- Sean Dunny, Lead Environment Artist

Sean Dunny/Obsidian

Dunny also highlighted the MIX.R machines, which reward players with mutations if they can defend the structure from rampaging bugs.

Obsidian

The MIX.R is modeled after a bacteriophage — a type of virus that attacks bacteria.

Shutterstock

Building dens for Grounded’s notoriously creepy spiders was a high point for art director Kazunori Aruga.

Kazunori Aruga/Obsidian

“I wanted to capture the eerie feeling of dense webbing while maintaining a convincing level of detail at our tiny scale.”

- Kazunori Aruga, Art Director

Kazunori Aruga/Obsidian

“I think players will go ‘uh oh..’ when they step inside.”

- Kazunori Aruga, Art Director

Kazunori Aruga/Obsidian

Grounded is available now on PC and Xbox Game Pass.

Kazunori Aruga/Obsidian