Aground by Fancy Fish Games and Whitethorn Digital is a mining and crafting RPG in which you’re stranded on an island. Learn more in our Aground review!
In Aground from Fancy Fish Games and Whitethorn Digital, you’ll be taking on a mining and crafting RPG with a dash of survival elements. The story starts with you on an island’s beach. You are cold and tired, and all you want is to survive. You quickly come across a broken shelter hut that you will repair to heat yourself up and spend the night. Not long after, someone knocks on the hut’s door and asks for shelter. This is how you’ll meet up with Builder, the first of many survivors in this journey, as you both discuss how you will survive on this island. The next day, Builder tasks you with building a storehouse to keep what you find on the island, and from there, you’ll meet with a few other survivors that will all have their own ways of contributing to your wellbeing.
The game is played from a 2D perspective, where you can move pretty much everywhere you want from left to right on the island, as you unlock new ways to travel further and further into the ground and onward. One of the first things you’ll get is an axe which is used with the Square button, that will allow you to strike at enemies but also do things like cutting down trees to gather wood. Once you gain a shield, if you want to use one, you’ll be able to block enemy attacks with the Triangle button. You’ll also gain access to a pickaxe that you’ll be able to use to dig into the ground to gather other materials.
Everything you collect, from wood to berries and coal, will have a weight, which accumulates in your inventory. You have a certain capacity, and if you try to carry more than you’re allowed, your stamina will deplete. Actions like digging and cutting down trees will also deplete your stamina, which will eventually cause you to lose health if you don’t eat something that restores it or sleep in your shelter. You’ll also gain experience and level up as you perform actions, which will reward you with skill points that you can spend to boost things such as Stamina, Health, Attack, and a lot of stats. The more you upgrade each one of them, the more skill points the next upgrade will cost. Most of the survivors you meet will also send you on quests for gathering materials or for crafting specific items or structures.
I am usually not a fan of crafting games, but I found myself having fun with this one. While the story is pretty vague at first, I liked how you get to learn more details about things when you return to the shelter to get some rest, which will sometimes trigger a cutscene with all of the survivors together, talking about what they will do and what their life was like before. Then there are all the mining and crafting aspects that I found really easy to pick up and with a lot of depth. Being able to level up your character also helps quite a lot with making the survival aspects a bit easier if you focus on things such as stamina and being able to carry more weight.
The one thing I could say I found a bit annoying was how quickly a lot of survivors come together with all of their gameplay mechanics, building, and things to do. You don’t really get the time to explore the possibilities of a new survivor and the building he asks you to complete before there’s already another survivor ready to give you a new quest to complete. I would have appreciated a bit more extra time between each survivor’s arrival to have the time to assimilate what they do to help and what they’re asking me to do.
In terms of trophies, there is actually a lot to do to reach the Platinum trophy. Many of the trophies will unlock early in the game as you complete the starting set of quests, such as repairing the hut, building a farm, getting your backpack, building a workshop, defeating a wyrm, destroying a golem, mining yourself a diamond, cooking a delicious pizza, upgrading your hut, and more. Some of them will be a bit grindy – such as upgrading your character with 500 or more skill points – but they make for a fun experience.
Aground is a simple but fun 2D crafting and mining game that’s easily accessible and not just for hardcore fans of the genre. Given its $14.99 price, it’s a game that will definitely give you your money’s worth.
This Aground review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Whitethorn Digital.