Updated Mon, May 30, 2011 by Stow
There’s something to be said for creating your own adventure, in a world of video games that are leaning more and more towards linearity. Enter Terraria, a game where you can build an empire, tunnel to the depths of hell, and beat the hell out monsters all at the same time.If the premise and pictures make it seem like Minecraft, that’s intentional. After all, the subtitle to the game is Shut Up and Dig Gaiden, so the resemblance is natural, but the perspective objectives are different.
You start by customizing a tiny SNES-esque sprite and leaping into a server, whether it is local or online. This character is persistent and will be your avatar throughout your adventures from server to server. Next, you’re equipped with nothing but a pick axe. You need to mine the earth for materials and make weapons, armor, and utility tools to get around your man-made cave patterns.
It may not look like much, but each little color splotch will take you a good 5 minutes to dig through and explore. This is just one randomly created world, so the possibilities are endless!
Once you’re out of the Stone Age, you repeat and repeat. But unlike most games of this sandbox-esque genre, there are objectives to complete on each server. An NPC Guide roams the map and will fill you in on objectives that can be done to advance the game, introduce more NPCs, and unlock more evil to fight, and hopefully, more loot!
Next thing you know, you’ve spent all day on the game and that sunset out your window is actually a sunrise. Welcome to Terraria. It sounds like a winning formula, but do all of the ingredients in this recipe come out a success, or should this title have been left in the oven a bit more?
Controlling your hero is as easy as some basic arrow keys for directions and mouse targeting, but it actually works quite well. Projectiles from bombs to arrows and even cool utility stuff like the Hookshot are aimed using your mouse cursor. It can be a little difficult to dig precisely when jumping to hit things overhead and out of your reach, but let’s just say that’s an accurate representation of a digging simulator.
Construction is key to getting objectives done and getting the attention of merchants. Here we are laying the foundation of what will surely be a glorious empire. Each block is hand crafted and placed by you, so you can build spiraling dungeons or something out of SimTower if you so desire.
Everything from crafting to forming teams of players is intuitive and simple. Anytime you’ve got items in your inventory and they can be put together, the prompt will show up in the bottom left of your menu. If you’re a crafting station, more items can be made and they’ll all be listed. These recipes don’t stick with you however, so you might be pulling up a wiki fairly often in order to remember what you’re making and what you need to make it.
The further down you mine, the more intimidating and rewarding it gets. Monsters will tunnel through walls, slimes will split upon death, and generally they’re all pretty good at navigating the terrain you mine regardless of how devious it may be. Don’t worry about making it back up either. You can craft basic platforms and ledges to places, as well as torches to light the way as you descend into the darkness. Should you forget, later on you’ll have items such as a Hookshot to grapple your way out or even rocket boots to simply fly on outta there!
You still have to light every individual area of your home. No one wants to live in darkness. Note my friend being a crazy construction worker by using a hookshot to get to where he wants to lay down walls.
The diversity of items is impressive, and you’ll be doing a lot more than swinging a sword and a pickaxe. Hell, once you get some serious items going you’ll be throwing stars from the heavens, wielding a ball and chain, or even creating vines out of thin air to attack your enemies. You can craft with everything from mud and sand to obsidian or amethyst.
Manipulation of physics is an important key to creating cool cave layouts, and the flow of water and/or lava will follow in the wake of your digging if you tap into those areas. Since you can drown and of course, burn up, wonton digging will only lead to your inevitable demise and a really ugly world to explore. Of course this means you’ll have a hard time making anything truly epic on a public server, since people love to dig right underneath it, or even run a damn river into it. Ever wake up to your house flooded? It’s about the same thing in two dimensions, and the frustration that comes with it is quite similar.
If you’re wondering about how the actual combat holds it, it’s as simple as it gets with just attacking using various items or weapons. The enemy AI is decent enough and will navigate terrain fairly effectively, so don’t think you can use that against them. The same cannot be said for the NPC AI, who will happily walk around in vulnerable spots during enemy raids on your position and die horribly. Don’t worry, they respawn, it’s just frustrating to see your nurse go down because she went for a stroll at night. The time cycles do affect the monsters that spawn as well as a couple other factors I’ll leave you to discover. One of the coolest parts about this game is that no one has figured it all out yet and you’ll be discovering things that possibly no one else has yet.
We completed a couple objectives and our reward was... spawning the goddamn Eye of Cthulu. And it's pissed. Bosses are rough but fair, and have patterns and weaknesses that can be exploited.
Bosses can be fairly rough to tackle alone, so that’s when you fire up a server with your map on it and invite your buddies to help you bash heads and collect great loot!