Smalland: Survive the Wilds


Honey I Shrunk the Kids meets The Borrowers and Grounded in a post-apocalyptic world, and you're gonna love it!


Smalland: Survive the Wilds will have you attempting to do exactly as the name suggests all while assuming the role of a mythical fairy type creature called Smallfolk or Underdweller. To survive you will need to avoid, outwit or battle your way past multiple insect species, a couple of different members of the lizard family and even a type of bird native to a portion of the Smalland world/map you are tasked with exploring. You will also need to collect resources with which to craft and upgrade new gear and weapons and build bases to keep you sheltered from storms. You're far from alone and will also meet other Smallfolk who will ask you to undertake quests/missions. So strap in and let's get to it.

You will assume the role of a Vanguard smallfolk, tasked with exploring the overworld to see if it is safe for your particular clan to leave the shelter of their old warren/burrow to establish a new one elsewhere. After character creation/selection you are greeted with the world creation/selection menu where you can choose if you wish to play online (impressively, up to 10 players can join a world), with friends only, change difficulty settings such as peaceful creatures, how hard they hit you, how hard you hit them, the amount of fall damage you take, how quickly or slowly you nourishment meter depletes, and if you want the structures/bases you build to degrade over time from in-game weather.

We like big Bluetits, we cannot lie...

After character and world creation/selection you awaken from a Hornet attack in a marsh and are given instructions from a member of your vanguard party (Hildred) to report his injury as well as the hornet attack to Captain Hernie. This is where your adventure begins and where Hildred stays for the remainder of the game, (I'm a little annoyed no one sent a medic to help poor Hildred–returning to the starting area you discover that he's just left there to suffer his injuries for the entire duration of the game!)

You're gonna need a really big glass and piece of paper.

After leaving Hildred how you progress is entirely up to you, you can free roam and explore the world without following the intended progression route, but the game is much easier if you stick to and follow the story’s suggested NPC path through the game. Make certain to exhaust all dialogue options with every NPC you encounter as they may reveal new quests or the location of other NPCs or Enemies you will need to face to advance the story or quests. Via dialogue options each NPC you meet will also give you the ability to craft different armour sets with varying stats such as Defense, Cold Protection, Durability and some even have the ability to increase movement speed or grant health regeneration. Some can also show you how to craft glider wings!

This guy needs urgent manscaping.

As you progress through the world you will encounter a myriad of flora and fauna, many of which will provide you with the necessary resources you will need to craft the aforementioned gear, armour or other equipment you will need. To acquire these resources you will need to either slay the various fauna, or you may happen across two hostile creatures who fight to the death, leaving you free to collect the items they drop upon death. You may have to harvest certain resources from a plant or node which you will encounter throughout the world. These various resources are useful not only for equipment/gear creation and upgrades, but for base building as well.

You'll often see creatures fighting to the death! This wasp killed the cockroach.

I know base building is not everyone's cup of tea, but in this game it sort of makes sense and the construction tools make it relatively easy. Smalland has a day/night cycle and dynamic weather, and as a smallfolk you are tiny in comparison to say, a raindrop, so shelter from storms is a realistic necessity, not to mention it gives you a place to store up those various resources until you acquire the necessary quantities needed for whatever you are using them for. You can build your base anywhere in the world, but ground bases are prone to attack by all fauna. The best place to build your base is atop one of the 10 trees dotted around the map, these trees are differentiated from others by their size and the obvious mushroom platforms and vine paths winding their way round the tree leading you to its topmost branches. As with most similar games your base will also be a place to put all the various crafting stations which are needed as your tools, weapons and armour technology advance and improve. You decide how intricate or plain you want your base to be, and if built in a tree it can be moved to any other tree so long as another player is not occupying that tree (other players are only in online mode, which you can toggle on/off at the start off each session).

Home sweet home...

In Smalland you're tiny (well duh) and the creatures are HUGE (beetles are the size of a truck!) Without exception they are well animated and behave in realistic ways, interacting convincingly with the environment and each other. Some are aggressive and will attack, others are placid unless attacked, some are nocturnal. If you want an easy life “Peaceful Mode” in the options makes ALL creatures tame unless attacked, which obviously makes the game much easier, especially early on. You can also tame certain creatures once you learn how from the various NPCs in the game, some examples are; Ladybug (useful as a pack mule/mobile chest with 20 inventory slots), and various mounts (rideable pets); Grasshopper (useful in some fights with weaker enemies, and long jumps), Damselfly (useful in some fights with weaker enemies and flying short distances), Gecko and Wolf Spider (useful for fighting and climbing steep but not completely vertical surfaces), Hornet (useful for fighting and flying medium distances), Scorpion (useful for fighting) and finally your very own bird, specifically a massive Blue Tit (useful for fighting, and flying long distances at breakneck speed). You can have up to 50 different tames, but only one may accompany you at a time. It is also important you keep an eye on your pet's health, as they can die if their HP bar is depleted. Their HP can regenerate over time, but feeding them raises their health faster. As you and your pet kill enemy creatures you will gain experience points and level up, each level will grant you (3) and your pet (2) ability points to spend and increase Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Endurance or Intelligence. Current player max level is 100, while your pet max is 110 so choose where to invest those points wisely.

Various creatures, not all are tameable.

Certain areas of the game are guarded/blocked preventing your entry until you progress the story and unlock a pathway to that area. There is no visible boundary, only a warning message saying "You are entering the hunting grounds of a Dangerous Sky creature, turn back immediately." Failure to turn back will result in instadeath, and depending on your world settings you may lose any items you are carrying.

Without spoiling too much of the story, after leaving Hildred and meeting Captain Herne, you are sent to meet the Elder, and told you need to unlock a chest which contains a potion needed to cure the Smallfolk Queen. This then sets you on your grand adventure bouncing from NPC to NPC or Boss, and so on, all the while upgrading your equipment to make your next encounters easier to endure.

Meeting advanced players can aid your progress and they can be very helpful!

After playing for a couple of weeks on Xbox Series X I have had 0 crashes, some frame loss when flying my Blue Tit, I suspect because of his flight speed, I have glitched into the terrain once, had a friend do the same while playing co-op and noticed a few graphical glitches, such as gaps in the texturemaps of the vines winding around the Base/Trees. I also ran into a World Event glitch in the Mushroom area of the Oak Forest where the 3 Goliath Beetles spawn under the Terrain, 1 of them falls to the bottom of the map out of reach, while 2 of them were killable through the terrain with a sword or other melee weapon. Other than that, the game is very solid considering it just came out of early access in February 2024.

Spiders, snakes, hornets and scorpions make Smalland life interesting.

So to summarise, Smalland: Survive the Wilds is an open world sandbox base-building resource gathering survival game, set in a post-human world where you are tasked with exploring and gathering a potion to save your Queen. I love this game and really enjoyed playing it with friends. I hope the UK based Developer continues to improve it, I would gladly replay it especially if there are additions or DLCs in its future.

Many thanks to Merge Games, Plan of Attack and Hooligan PR