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Best of it's genre

Review: Terraria

by April 21, 2012

Right off the bat I’m going to say that Terraria is a tricky game to review. On one hand a review is supposed to help you decide if you want the game in question by describing parts of the game, on the other hand the idea of Terraria is about discovering and building the world around you and I don’t want to spoil that sense of discovery for any readers. It’s a fine line and I’m just the man for the job…..I think…..nah, I am.

Terraria starts with you in a field, walk a bit and you’ll see the NPC character that goes over the basics in the game, we did a quick look about it here. From there on in anything goes.

As you would do if you wound up alone in the middle of nowhere the first job is to make a place to stay so using your trusty pick and ax that you start the game with you start to clear land and trees for your new home. Doing this is simple as you pick whatever tool you want from the top of the screen (or the scroll wheel for users with fancy mice) and then point and click what you want gone. When you chop down a tree or dig up a pile of dirt it’ll go into your inventory and when you want to build from them you just select, point and click again, simple.

Filled forest

What a beautiful forest

Building from resources makes me feel a bit like Iceman from the X-Men. For those unaware he’s a mutant who can cover/become ice and his main way of getting from place to place is to freeze the moisture in the air to make an ice slide that he slides on everywhere. This is what happens in Terraria if you want. Just grab dirt or rock or clay and then walk anywhere you want while clicking the cursor in front of you and you’ll be creating a bridge of whatever as you go.

While this game has been compared to Minecraft there are differences big and small, the largest one besides 3D and 2D is the fact that monsters are around 24-7. In the daytime you’ll be plagued by different blobs and by night it’s mainly flying eyeballs and zombies. There are also things like giant worms if you start digging deeper into the ground and you will have to in order to find the ingredients needed to improve yourself and your world.

The part that’s also not like Minecraft is that there’s a goal, in a sense, for this game. Besides fighting random monsters you’re able to spawn boss monsters in the game by collecting various items and activating them. This means that while it’s a very open sandbox game the ability to turn it into more of a “quest to destroy the evil monster” is there as well, it’s a nice idea that caters to both groups who play the game.

Now here’s the trickiest part of the review, there’s a TON of things to find in the world and then there are multiple ways to combine them to become things you need. I’m going to cover the simple ones and some of the more sophisticated ones. If you kill some of the blue slimes and have some wood as well you can make a torch to light up the night or underground. If you find some gold and find a way to melt it down you can make gold bars which then can become armor and weapons and even new tools that help you perform all the game’s tasks faster.

Crafting is simple, all you need to do is hit Esc and the menu comes up allowing you to see what you can make from the items you own, when you start making new items more options open up. If you make a workbench from the wood you got from chopping down trees then you can start to make bows and arrows and other useful things.

As you craft and build you’ll be able to make homes for other characters that will move in if they have a house waiting. As long as you follow the rules for a basic house you’re on your way, there are different requirements for different inhabitants and you’ll end up having to protect them too because if they lose their house they’ll move away.

Sometimes it feels like there’s a tiny clown car just off screen that’s unloading every single monster in this game.

The graphics in the game are simple 8 bit styled graphics and I’m glad they went this way, a game like this is best served by staying as simple as possible with it’s Lego feel. There are some great light effects and things work as expected in the game. If you’re digging and end up in a pool of water and keep digging until you exit into an empty cave below the water will run out into the lower area. During gameplay I’ve had to drain many watery areas so I could keep on digging to find certain minerals around.

CURSE YOU LOGGERS!

There’s nothing bad in this game but there are issues that bother me when I’m playing.

First is the fact that there’s no pause button. Everything happens here in real time and when you pull up your inventory and crafting screens the game keeps on going. I understand where the dev was going but it’s a pain in the neck. I have been attacked far too often when I’m just trying to see what my latest resource can become, that leads me to issue number two.

Holy respawning monsters. No, I’m not talking about religious monsters, I’m talking about monsters that never stop. When you play the game, sometimes it feels like there’s a tiny clown car just off screen that’s unloading every single monster in this game. The other thing is that they spawn in places they shouldn’t. I worked hard making my house with a few floors and rooms and it’s large (worst episode of MTV’s Cribs ever) so some parts of the house are offscreen. When I walk through it I’ll find a slime bouncing around inside a room, since there’s no way to get in this means he’s spawned inside. The call is coming from INSIDE the house.

The only other thing that slowed me down in the game is the keyboard for movement but I’m not that great with platformers and keyboard controls so that’s going to be different for every user. The controls are simple enough that even people bad with keyboard controls can do the basics.

Re-Logic is planning to keep the game updated and will be releasing new content for the game on a regular schedule so that’s always good to hear.

Overall Terraria is a great example on how to expand the “survival” sandbox genre while allowing purists to enjoy the game as well.

COULD BE HELPFUL WITH ANXIETY BECAUSE

  • A ton to find and do
  • Crafting system is deep and rewarding
  • Building in the game is easy and intuitive
  • Allows user to play game at own pace

COULD BE UNHELPFUL WITH ANXIETY BECAUSE

  • No direction for gameplay
  • Up to player to figure out how to do everything.
  • Bare bones directions


WHY YOU SHOULD BE PLAYING THIS

I really enjoy this game but not all the time. When I’m not anxious it’s great to spend an hour tunneling and seeing what I can find or building up new structures but when I’m anxious the lack of direction doesn’t help. Since there’s nothing really pressing to do in the game it doesn’t help me think about something other then being anxious. Once I start a project in the game I can focus on that but since the game doesn’t point me in a direction I find that I just sit and worry about whatever I’m anxious about and that’s why I don’t play this game that often while I’m anxious.

This review was based on the PC version that was provided by the reviewer.

Overview
Release Date

May 26, 2011

Digital or Retail

Digital

Platform

PC

Developer

Re-Logic

Publisher

Re-Logic

Badges
AwardsBest of it's genre
Positives

Tons of things to do, Take the game at your own speed

Negatives

No direction at all, tedious collecting

Rating
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Graphics
8.0
Gameplay
9.0
Sound
7.0
7.0
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