Terraria #PC Review
By: Underwood Lynch
Once in a blue moon a video game will spawn more fans than a discount hardware store, creating a large fanbase and significant profit margins. This rarely goes unnoticed amongst other developers and very soon you see all sorts of similar versions, knock-offs and rejects. The majority of these are simple clones, working with pretty much the same engine and not actually changing how gameplay operates. With the recent Minecraft phenomenon there have been several clones and games featuring similar themes that live with the idea of “being Minecraft but not”. Terraria, while containing mining and crafting, is not one of these games.
The story in Terraria is vague and personal. You find yourself in the strange world of Terraria, a randomly-generated world filled with trees, plantlife, animals and the odd person. The landscape goes deep beyond the surface, hiding dangerous lava-filled caverns, underground jungles and dangerous dungeons. The earth itself is corrupted on the surface in places, where demons roam and the land itself screams out with dark secrets. Your goal is merely to survive.
Terraria is a 2D side-scroller with a heavy focus on survival. You start off with with little more than a pick, an axe and the clothes on your back, after creating and customising your character’s colours. Upon entering the world you meet the Guide, an NPC infamously known for opening doors and letting enemies into your house. By cutting down trees you make wood, which you can use to build walls or a crafting table. Pressing Escape brings up your inventory and the crafting menu, and depending on if you are stood next to a crafting table, anvil or some such, you can combine items to create new ones and so on. By creating a room, placing a table, chair and backdrop (craftable with wood) you create a room, allowing the Guide to move into your home. With more available rooms, NPCS from the Merchant to the Arms Dealer will move in and provide services in exchange for gold.
Combat is one of the most important aspects of the game. You switch between the ten items on your top inventory bar with either the mouse scrollwheel or the number keys. Using an item – i.e. swinging a sword is done with a simple left mouse click, allowing you to easily time your attacks and kill monsters. Slimes are the most common enemy, but you’ll need to dig for hearts and find falling stars at night to increase your maximum health and mana. This is important as the further you explore and the more ambitious you are, the more dangerous the game gets. Creating a bed for your house to set a spawn point is advised, as you return there whenever you die (but luckily with all your items intact). As you get stronger and discover more powerful treasure like weapons and accessories (some of which allow you double jump, increase jump height, teleport back to your spawn and so on) you can challenge bosses and hunt for even rarer treasure. Multiplayer support is of exceptional quality, allowing for easy access to other people’s games in progress and allowing you to work together to build, explore or join teams and tear each other to pieces.
Events such as meteorites crashing into Terraria, goblin invasions and the infamous “Blood Moon” – where enemies spawn at a faster rate and learn how to open doors – keep gameplay interesting and force you to focus on survival and protecting your base.
Visually the game’s character sprites are most often compared to that of the original Final Fantasy games, and many equippable items are reminiscent of retro gaming. The lighting and water effects are exactly how they need to be. There’s no 3D as such to be found, but the overall effect created is all that’s necessary for this game to work. It revels in the style of classic side-scrollers.
The soundtrack is memorable and fits the job description, shifting into a darker spooky tone whenever you arrive at either the corrupted portion of the land or when you hit the deepest areas of the map. Boss fight music soon fills you with dread as a dangerous foe approaches and there are no musical tracks that don’t fit the bill.
Familiarity. The subtle hints to gaming history are well-appreciated, including the vanity items resembling a certain ape-chasing plumber.
Depth. There are hours of gameplay potential in Terraria. The hundreds of items to craft and discover will keep you playing and finding new recipes is always fun.
Multiplayer. The game is even more fun in multiplayer, allowing you to team up against difficult challenges.
Free Updates. The game is updated regularly with new content to discover, with help from the thriving community.
Unforgiving Introduction. At this point in time there is little explanation of how to play the game, the only in-game source of help being an aforementioned NPC known as the guide. In addition to providing a few hints, he also enjoys wandering out of your house and leaving the door open so the monsters of the night can enter.
Grind. Some of the later armour and equipment requires an unforgiving amount of time to collect, but the challenge may appeal to some people.
Terraria is an example of following a popular game’s lead but providing a unique gameplay experience. Much like Minecraft, the promise of free content updates is appealing and discovering them with friends is all part of the game. The challenge of building contraptions and working together to fight enemies and loot treasure is a strong point of gameplay, and visiting other people’s servers for a quick session is something that never gets tiring.