To judge Terraria simply by quick glances at screen shots or YouTube videos is to really deny the game the attention it deserves. When it was unveiled for the PC roughly two years ago, a cynical-yet-vocal minority were quick to dismiss the game as nothing more than “2D Minecraft”. Thankfully, other gamers were eager to dig beneath the surface (sorry, I had to) and approach Terraria with an open mind.
Released on PC through Steam in 2011, Terraria went on to be a chart-topper, and has finally come to consoles (though it is still unreleased on the Playstation network in Europe and Australia) and it is also coming to the Playstation vita soon. Comparisons between Terraria and Minecraft are inevitable, however, as both feature massive, open worlds that the player can rebuild and reshape. Both games feature the crafting of tools and building matierials from resources gathered from the game world, and both feature some other basic elements, such as day and night cycles, monsters, weapons and armour.
There may be similarities between the two games, but make no mistake: Terraria is not “2D Minecraft” as some cynical gamers may believe. Despite being extremely buggy, Terraria is an extremely addictive and entertaining title, and well worth checking out.
As mentioned before, Terraria is an open-world game with elements from games such as Minecraft, Castlevania and Super Metroid, set on a 2D plane. Upon creating their character, players are spawned into a randomly generated world with a few beginning tools. Similar to Minecraft, it is advisable to build shelter before nightfall, as monsters wander the landscape and attack the player on sight. After getting the hang of harvesting resources, players will probably want to explore caves and the various dungeons located underground. The deeper you explore underground, the rarer the items and minerals you find, and the harder the enemies you will encounter.
While it may sound as though setting a world-shaping/crafting game on a 2D plane would limit the enjoyment one can have with said game, Terraria’s design is very clever, and the sheer size of the worlds dwarfs the worlds created in Minecraft. Players are also able to use grappling hooks and wooden platforms (that you can pass through if need be) to navigate the 2D caves and dungeons. A fun feature of Terraria is the ability to encounter a “boss” after completing a certain task in-game, such as throwing a voodoo doll into a pit of lava, or building an eye out of lenses recovered from defeated Demon eyes (an airborne floating eyeball monster). The bosses serve as a good challenge and provide decent loot when they are defeated, which satisfies a loot junkie like myself. Terraria is packed with content, whether its biomes (small environments within the world, such as deserts and snowy areas) or the staggering amount of equipment you can craft or find.
Unfortunately, also like Minecraft, there is no story in Terraria, which does annoy me to a certain extent. I understand that if a game has a story, it must also have an end at some point, but surely Re-Logic (and Mojang as well) can write a story with a sandbox ending, allowing players to continue after completing the story events. Despite the lack of a story, there are non-story events which can be counted as achievements or checkpoints to the game’s progress, which are fun, but not as fun as a well-written story. The focus of the game is exploring and combat ,which Terraria delivers quite nicely. Up to four players can play on the same console and screen on the console version of Terraria, which is not only a ton of fun, it is also a ton of value.
I really do enjoy Terraria, though no game is perfect, and this one has more than it’s fair share of bugs and game-crashing errors. For instance, when playing a multiplayer game, if any player uses magic, there is am extremely high chance that it will remove players from the game, excluding the host. Another glitch saw the underground areas not loading for my multiplayer companion, and saw them dropping approximately two miles straight down and off the screen to their death. The friendly NPC characters are also extremely stupid, and if they don’t have a direct line to their destination (usually a new home) they will either wander off into a dangerous area, which will contain zombies at night. There are numerous other glitches, but I haven’t lost any items or had any structures I’ve built disappear, so they aren’t intolerable by any regard.
Graphically, Terraria is certainly charming, though it isn’t going to blow anyone away with it’s 2D sprites or repetitive textures. The only gripe I have with Terraria’s visual design is Re-Logic choice of font for the game’s title screen and in-game items: Andy. It really is ridiculous to look at, and makes the game seem cheap and amateur. Everything that really matters however (monsters, textures and equipment icons) all look fantastic, given the chosen visual style of the game. I only wish there was a little more colour variety in the blocks you can build with. There are numerous shade and hue variations of brown blocks, and though you have the option to easily make different coloured lights, you don’t with building blocks, which is a shame.
The sound in Terraria is undoubtedly sub-par. The monsters in particular sound awful, and for some reason, some monsters and sound effects are louder than others, which is irritating. There is also a major lack of variety in the sounds and quite often, opposite items will have the same sound effect, such as magic staves and rocket boots. Terraria’s sound is extremely repetitive, which bothers me considering the amount of digging and building you do in it. The sound of the pickaxe can get extremely irritating, as its the same “clink clink clink” endlessly. The music in the game is even worse, and even though there are multiple songs, they all sound the same. Just do what I did, and turn the music off, and create a playlist on your computer or iPod for when you play Terraria.
- Huge amount of content.
- Four player split screen.
- Rewarding gameplay.
- Glitches and bugs galore.
- Repetitive music and sound effects.
- No story.
Terraria may not be perfect, but its off to a damn good start. With a huge amount of content, and a focus on exploration and combat, Terraria is unique enough to stand up on its own against Minecraft on consoles. I have already spent a good 25 hours or so in my game save with my friends, and the game has only just seen it’s console release! My fingers are crossed in the hope for some bug fixes, as well as some new content announced soon. There is still an amazing amount of content to keep me occupied in the meantime, however.
Score – 7/10