Release Date
2020
Players
Single / LAN and Online Multiplayer
Age
8+

This is a review for Aground.  You don’t need it.  The demo is freely available on PC, Mac, Linux, and most any web browser, and it’s amazing.  Give it an hour, and it will take four.  You can do that twice, it’s a generous demo.  But.  What if even that is a waste of time?  What if it’s just not for you?  Shut up.  It’s fine.  You’re wasting time by not playing Aground.

Okay, now that we’re clear of my bias, I will be honest and say the game isn’t for everyone.  What is the game, anyway?  Well, let me tell you, it’s centered around crafting and mining.  …  Still here?  That’s one of the big hurdles people might have.  The other is the rpg style, super grind-y, levelling and progression.  And the horizontal scrolling 2D pixel art initially looks like muck.  Is this review balanced yet?  Anyway, if you haven’t smashed that Back button or tabbed out yet, then I’m prepared to guarantee you that this game is worth your time.  You’re not absolutely sick of Terraria, are you?

Aground’s strength is that it scales.  Aground’s weakness is its title.  It should have been called Scales.  Though, in that case, they might have benefitted from a more reptilian antagonist.  Nevertheless, you start the game as some muck running aground.  You can run a-cross the-ground, you can aground again elsewhere, you spend a looooot of time under the aground, but in time, you do leave the aground.  The aground stops, but the game never stops scaling.

The game has been a free demo for years.  Kongregate, Newgrounds. You might feel warm and fuzzy inside about that.  As the player, you craft, you hunt, you eat.  You get stronger, make better tools, explore farther.  Join a village, mine and farm WITH them, learn of… the threat.  The scope expands.  Get stronger, better weapons, kill a dragon, farm new dragons.  Team Aground has a successful Kickstarter.  You learn of other islands, with other unique survivors.  Build a boat and go west to learn of electricity and vehicles, or you fly a dragon east and learn magic.  Don’t confine yourself to one or the other, you take that dragon and turn it into a spaceship!  Aground ports to major pc digital distributors.  Full version released.  Saves are transferable.  Version 2.0. Multiplayer!  It keeps scaling.

The game trailer shows you this and more in thirty seconds.  I have wasted your time.

Aground has been an indie hero for years.  Regularly ignored for looking simple, overdone, or strangely; being too accessible.  Stumbling upon this game and giving it a shot has proven to impress most people, but, to be fair, it can get old.  It’s not a sandbox game.  It’s extremely open, and there are lots of carefully crafted secrets and side quests, but there’s an end, and you eventually have to do the chores to progress.  Though I don’t know many games where the rewards are as enticing. The devs kept that exciting spark of a new game and, despite indie devs usually running an idea into the aground, grew it into an unquenchable fire.  Some of the biggest things are spoiled as selling points, but there are so many discoveries to find and evolve throughout the whole game; you’ll get that feeling of being able to fight the dragon or ride it to a whole new world over and over again. 

Check it out.

Aground is a side scrolling, open world, exploration adventure game centered around resource/inventory management and crafting. You will love the expanding world with many secrets, elements, mechanics, and the abilities you earn to master every inch of it. Depending on your tolerance, you might be put off by the effort it takes to earn those abilities. It’s not the easiest game to pick up and remember what you were working on if you stop playing for a while. The game is also padded by a lot of back tracking, especially if you are close to unlocking a new mode of travel. You might have noted the fact that I didn’t note anything about the story. The story, while serviceable, isn’t very noteworthy. But if you like indie pixel games, with exploration, crafting, and world building; this game is a treasure.
4.5

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