Behold- a 2D, open world mining-themed platformer. Terraria is on sale on Steam for $2.50 until October 17. Read on to decide if it’s a worthy purchase.
Publisher: Re-Logic, 505 Games
Programmer: Andrew “Redigit” Spinks
Platform: PC, PSN, XBLA, Vita, WinPhone, Android, iOS (PC version reviewed)
Genre: action-adventure, sandbox
Mode: single and multiplayer
Yes, at first glance, it looks like 2D Minecraft. Yes, even after playing it for a few hours, the similarities are still many. Yes, the debate rages over which game is better. No, I’m not going to take sides.
What you see above is my third life and first home. Building a home is not nearly as intuitive as one might think, and I was forced to use the wiki fairly early. The game certainly does not hold your hand. I played on Hardcore mode, which means each time I died, I had to start over. There are softcore (death costs money) and mediumcore (drop items on death) modes as well.
How do you build a home, you might ask as you struggle to find shelter before the denizens of the night overcome you? Chop down trees, build a bunch of “wood walls” but don’t use all your wood. Build a block of walls as tall as you can and fairly wide. Make sure you don’t miss any spots. Then use the wood that was leftover to build the outline of the house. A door can be planted in a space as tall as yourself. To make it a home, it needs a chair and a table (or crafting table). Add some torches and be safe! I accidentally assigned my first house (the one on the left) to the guide guy, so I had to quickly make a second while the sun was setting. I tunneled my way back to him during the night since I was bored.
Crafting is very simple- no need to memorize placement of materials- if you can build it, just click and it’s made. Some useful items are rope/rope coils for climbing up and down pits, torches, star in a bottle/glowsticks for light under water, and the typical pickaxe/axe/sword. A hammer allows you to bash out the background tiles (such as a mistake made when building your house).
Value: Typically $10, it is on sale now for $2.50, and if you enjoyed Minecraft but wished there was more story or tired of getting lost (all you have to do in Terraria is remember right or left), this could be a good purchase for you. It’s a little less “creative” in what you can accomplish, and there is not nearly the modding community, but it certainly packs a punch.
Fun: Yes. The thrill of tunneling into an ancient, underground home, or a random dungeon, the fear of being trapped underground with no light, trying to fight off monsters while searching for your way out, the creation of homes and villages, it’s all here. Go explore. Take a lot of rope with you (I don’t know how to build it… I found lots in chests) and lower it into the pits so you can climb in and out. You can keep “placing” it in one spot, and the rope will get longer and longer until it hits another block. You can also place items like torches or mine while holding onto the rope.
Replay: Until you beat the final boss, absolutely. Even then, there may be some for the creative types who like to craft and build massive buildings.
Originality: It is very similar to Minecraft, but it’s not a clone. In fact, Notch has gone on record as borrowing some ideas from Terraria as Terraria likely did from Minecraft.
Art style: Sprites and faux-16-bit graphics. Sound familiar? Still, it looks good and fits well.
Environment: Building a town for NPCs to live in while facing the corruption of the land is a pretty good hook, no?
Plot: The idea is almost MMO-like- start out weak, build up your gear and abilities to the next level. Go to the next area/biome and make better stuff. Kill the boss. Go to the next area and make better stuff. Kill the boss. Repeat. Eventually, the whole world changes with the corruption and gets much harder.
Storytelling: Especially in the first couple hours, I haven’t found anything that even hints towards a story, even though there is one, according to the wikis. The spread of corruption is a big deal, but it isn’t addressed in the game that I’ve seen yet. The guide tells me how to bring other NPCs to town, but not much else.
Graphics: While they are good for the style, occasionally you’ll mistake a block of stone hanging from the ceiling for a sleeping bat and waste ammo trying to shoot it down… or at least I did. I don’t even know if there are bats!
Animations: Nothing immersion-breaking, but sometimes your sword will pass through an enemy without collision-detection registering because it’s in an odd corner or otherwise not matching up.
AI: Enemies follow you in general shapes (Slimes keep bouncing around over you until they get close enough to fall on you, flying animals fly in circles or figure eights, skeletons and zombies are more or less linear), but if the Guide is anything to go by, NPC AI is not great. I watched him let a slime attack him for quite a long time before I felt bad and slayed it for him.
Controls: Not amazing. I tended to leave my crafting bars open for better access to my inventory which meant I was constantly rearranging inventory when I meant to switch to my sword or torches.
UI: It seemed there just was no good layout for playing in a window.
Settings: As mentioned above, there are three difficulty modes (not changing difficulty, but what happens upon death), and the other typical options including fullscreen and windowed. No spoken lines, so no subtitles.