Smalland | LogoDeveloper: Merge Games
Platform(s): Steam
Early Access Date: March 29, 2023

Official Website

Steam Early Access Link

Smalland: Survive the Wilds is the game that I dreamed of playing when I first saw Honey, I Shrunk the Kids in the mid-1990’s on the Disney Channel, and I wished that I could explore a backyard in Fresno, California from the perspective of an ant. In my brief time that I spent playing an early access demo of the game just a few hours away from Fresno in San Francisco during GDC 2023, I found a gorgeous world that I had to somehow fit into and that I wanted to explore more of.

Smalland: Survive the Wilds stars the Smallfolk, a tiny race of beings who (at least in my demo biome) exist in a series of tiny underground tunnels and caverns. After seeing the various customization options to design and create my own Smallfolk character, I was plopped down into a forest biome area. I, admittedly, ignored the quest storyline and instead dove out into the wider world to explore. In the forest biome I explored (there are multiple large areas for players to visit with the Smallfolk), I found a world that honestly felt alive. There were trees everywhere, mushrooms for me to jump on to climb a tree, grass to dive into, and a river that would kill me if I entered into it. It was all beautiful to look at and the world was just inviting me to explore it. It is also a world that felt like it did not revolve around me but existed despite me.

Smalland | Fighting
Whether you’re exploring the world or fighting for your survival against the wildlife, there is a lot to see and do in Smalland: Survive the Wilds. (Images courtesy of Merge Games).

Smalland | Biome

The forest biome of Smalland: Survive the Wilds is a beautiful one, it is also a very dangerous world. I found a group of ants that attacked me and killed me the first time I encountered them. I ended up having to gather up materials and craft weapons (which Merge Games was kind enough to help me do) to then take the fight back to them. Even after I slaughtered the ants, I ended up being gravely injured and I had to use bandages to recover some health. Scavenging items for crafting was surprisingly easy to do, despite the fact that they blend into the environment. When you come across items such as sticks or sap, you can simply press a button to gather it all up at once. Helpfully, Smalland: Survive the Wilds also gives players the ability to ‘sense’ items by turning the entire environment almost completely white so the craftable items standout. The gameplay controls felt fair and responsive to me, and my own deaths were honestly deserved when I would make a bad jump and fall from too high of a height. I ended up doing several body runs to recover my lost craftable items that I had when I died.

Smalland | Inventory
The smallfolk are humanoid creatures that can carry and craft items while exploring the world around them. (Image courtesy of Merge Games).

Towards the end of my demo, I looped back around to try some of the quest storyline and I found a locked ‘chest’ that required four keys to unlock it. I was told that the keys are out there for the player to discover in the biome, and I honestly wanted to go out into the world to see everything that Smalland: Survive the Wilds has to offer. The Steam page announcements say that you can ride spiders and Rinoceros beetles as mounts, and that sounds really fun to try out. And most importantly, Smalland: Survive the Wilds is a multiplayer game, so you can build your own experiences with other people who want to take on the world with you. Merge Games’ first in-house developed game enters into Early Access later on this week, and I am honestly excited to see how it will turn out when everyone is turned loose into the world as one of the Smallfolk.

Are you going to be trying out Smalland: Survive the Wilds when it comes to Early Access later this week?

What kind of mount would you want to ride?

Let us know in the comments below!

Quentin H.
I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it.