The past few years have been quite good to the indie game development community. Hits such as Super Meat Boy, Cave Story, and Braid are all proof that small teams of developers can create great games that can stand up on their own to the big blockbuster titles. Of all the indie games out there one of the most popular and critically acclaimed titles as of late is Minecraft, the mining, crafting, survival game with building blocks. Naturally, Minecraft’s success spawned a wave of similar titles with mining and building mechanics, with one of the most recent of these being Relogic’s Terraria. On the surface Terraria looks like another shameless rip off of Minecraft albeit in a 2D perspective. However, if one were to dig deeper (pun totally intended), you would find a surprisingly deep game that draws inspiration from more than just Minecraft.
After creating a character and deciding on how large or small you’d like your randomly generated world to be, you are dumped onto a small plot of land with only a pickaxe and a wood cutting axe in your inventory and a guide NPC to help give you a few pointers on getting yourself established in your new world. After chopping down a few trees, building a crafting table (needed to create more advanced items), and creating a few more tools such as a sword and a hammer, you will have a much better chance of surviving. However the day will soon turn to night and the slimes you’ve no doubt easily defended yourself from turn into zombies and floating eyeballs that will relentlessly attack you unless you create a shelter for yourself. A small, modest home for yourself may be fine during your first night or so, but there is an incentive to expanding your home as new NPCs will move in once you fulfill certain requirements and will sell you new items such as bombs, guns, and more. And once you finally build the best boarding house you can, you may decide that your humble abode needs a sweet watchtower. And a treasure room. And a basement to farm mushrooms. And a lava moat. Creativity is king here and it is all up to you how you design your community.
For the most part, you will probably spend your time mining in the various underground tunnels, searching for rare ores used to upgrade your tools, rare life crystals used to increase your maximum health, and treasure chests containing cool gear that help you fight better or traverse the terrain more easily. Eventually you will fight tougher monsters (including bosses!), discover ancient communities lost in seas of lava, fight your way through underground jungles, or you may even journey through a labyrinthine dungeon full of traps and high-end loot. Even in smaller worlds, it would take quite a long time to fully explore every nook and cranny.
My experience playing Terraria has been extremely enjoyable. As a fan of Super Metroid and the recent Castlevania titles, I was pleased to find out that the game plays almost exactly like these titles, with an emphasis on tight controls for movement and combat and an ever growing arsenal of tools that help you get to areas previously unreachable. Upon starting the game, my character was a helpless weakling with nary a weapon to defend myself. After nearly 20 hours of gameplay, I was an overpowered destroyer of every enemy that crossed my path with an arsenal that included a grappling hook, a lightsaber, laser guns, and a variety of magic spells. And that was only my single-player character! Yes, you can play with your friends in the game’s multiplayer mode which is essentially the single player game but much more fun. This is especially true when you and your buddies spend a day planning to take down one of the game’s huge bosses or work together to defend your home from an invading army of goblins.
My only gripes with the game are minor annoyances that others may not notice or care about. For one, the character sprites are essentially repurposed Final Fantasy (SNES era) character sprites. This becomes less apparent as you obtain new pieces of armor to wear, however. Second, the music, while cute at first, gets annoying quite fast. Hopefully the developer patches the game to give the world a bit more variety in its ambient music.
Terraria is a PC gaming experience that you shouldn’t miss. The gameplay is simple enough to where you could just build fortresses and forget about mining or upgrading your character all together, yet it greatly rewards players who explore everything the game has to offer. And even if you manage to find all the game’s weapons and defeat all of the bosses, Relogic plans to update the game regularly for free adding new content every few weeks. Terraria is available now via Steam for the reasonable price of $9.99.