Aground is a game that many people will initially find to be very familiar. If you have played Terraria then you will have some concept of what to expect. However, behind the familiar is something a little bit different.
The game essentially follows the player as they wash up on a strange island after some catastrophic event. The player will need to start building their village, which is done as other survivors are found and offer their services. The plot, at least at the beginning, is so mundane it’s easy to forget what is going on, but it slowly starts to build. Eventually, it reaches a point where it borders on the insane.
Gameplay starts off relatively simple and very familiar. You have the option to dig, cut down trees and fight. However, there is more hidden under the surface than initially presented. Players will need to capture monsters, feed them in specific ways and use them to help traverse the world and more.
Eventually, players will find themselves running more complex machinery and travelling in considerably more style. It all works well and its single-button system for actions is simple to understand and enjoyable. However, there is one major fault and that is the combat. It isn’t very interesting and it is rarely challenging, most enemies are simply damage sponges who hurt you way more than you hurt them. This can make travelling more of a chore than it really should have been.
Visually the game uses a retro aesthetic that has become widely popular with indie games. Everything is blocky and the opening video is reminiscent of old Nintendo games. The characters designs are simple, but they all radiate their own charm. Special mention goes to the gruff hunter who is like if the Last Of Us’ Joel suddenly realised how lonely he is but comically denies it. Aground can show off some pretty impressive designs when it tries, including the occasional larger monster. The world is interesting and the visuals help to keep the player invested in exploring what they can.
Really this is a game that requires a bit of investment, but if you’re willing to put in the time then you’ll see a diamond…well a ruby. Honestly, it isn’t perfect and the same issues often come around. One of the main has to do with the inventory system. There is a lot of stuff to carry around and your stamina will constantly decrease. You can eat to restore it, but that means more stuff you will need to carry around and so on and so on. Oddly there is also no auto-save function, which can be annoying but if you happen to die then you’ll just start back when you last rested. However, the plot and the characters help to keep things interesting.
Currently Aground is free on Games with Gold, at least at the time of publishing. If you loved Terraria then hell, pick it up and while away a few hours digging holes and riding dragons. That’s right, you heard me, riding dragons. Everyone knows that any game that lets you ride dragons is at least worth a look, but just remember to stick with it for a while, as this one is a slow burn.
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