Theres 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, thats 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, youre 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 youre 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, youve 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?
Rated E for everyone, and for good reason, there are no elements that would scare the little ones aside from the big bad people you might team up with online.
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 lets just say thats 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 youve got items in your inventory and they can be put together, the prompt will show up in the bottom left of your menu. If youre a crafting station, more items can be made and theyll all be listed. These recipes dont stick with you however, so you might be pulling up a wiki fairly often in order to remember what youre 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 theyre all pretty good at navigating the terrain you mine regardless of how devious it may be. Dont 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 youll 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 youll be doing a lot more than swinging a sword and a pickaxe. Hell, once you get some serious items going youll 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 youll 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? Its about the same thing in two dimensions, and the frustration that comes with it is quite similar.
If youre wondering about how the actual combat holds it, its 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 dont 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. Dont worry, they respawn, its 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 Ill leave you to discover. One of the coolest parts about this game is that no one has figured it all out yet and youll 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 thats when you fire up a server with your map on it and invite your buddies to help you bash heads and collect great loot!
While being nothing short of primitive, the graphics get the job done. The terrain youre mining is easily identifiable and items are unique in their appearances when they drop. The frame rate is great, which is about all you can say when youre running around with a bunch of 16-bit era sprites. It captures indie feel of the game though, and sometimes simple really is good.
With only a couple sound clips for getting injured and about as many music tracks, please turn on something else while playing this game. Youre not missing out on much. Zero voices and forgettable fantasy music are all youre going to hear, and the sound effects are nothing to celebrate either. It doesnt help that everything is repetitive as hell to both fight and do, which means youll be hearing a lot of the same sounds as well.