Terraria – Review
Since Minecraft’s unexpected popularity explosion, there have been a string of indie titles hoping to catch some of that magic, and while there have been a handful of standout titles amongst them, none have been able to even remotely compete with the monolithic Minecraft.
Then came Terraria.
At the time of this writing, Terraria is the most played game on Steam, selling an estimated 50,000 copies on its first day alone. So what makes Terraria so special? The best place to start is to tell you what Terraria isn’t. Terraria is not Minecraft, plain and simple. Anyone telling you Terraria is a 2D Minecraft is either a Minecraft apologist who, for some reason, feels threatened by the potential success of another sandbox game or someone who saw a pickaxe in a screenshot and decided what he thought about the game right then and there.
Minecraft, in it’s basic premise, is a game about building the most impressive structures you can in a 3D world while surviving the occasional threat of a creeper or a zombie. It’s also a sandbox, so it’s not necessarily any of that if you don’t want it to be. Terraria is also a sandbox, but a sandbox with a very clear objective: combat. You can build things in Terraria as well, but not only is it not as impressive as its 3D counterpart, there are more interesting things you could be doing with your time; for example, you could be fighting giant eyeballs. More on that later.
When you first start your character on a randomly generated map, you’ll have pickaxe and an axe. You’ll need to scrounge for raw materials to make your shelter and to craft a set of tools. From there, you can do practically anything. You can start building a town, if you want. As you earn more money, a shopkeeper will move in, and you can sell him your spare materials and obsolete weapons and armor. As you increase your health (by finding health crystals underground), a nurse will move in who will heal you for a price. Once you find a gun, an arms dealer will show up to sell you bullets for it. You can keep expanding your little town until you have a small army of different NPC’s whose sole purpose in life is to make spelunking and monster fighting easier on you.
If you don’t feel like playing Suzy Homemaker right out of the gate, you can go exploring. There’s a lot more to find in the world of Terraria than the occasional gold or diamond vein; there’s a ton of weapons and handy items that will make your Terraria experience even better. For example, the Lucky Horseshoe, when equipped, will prevent you from taking falling damage. Pair this with the Shiny Red Balloon (which doubles your jumping height) and the Cloud in a Bottle (which allows you to perform a double jump), and you’ve got one mobile little bugger on your hands. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as findable and craftable items are concerned (don’t even get me started on how awesome the grappling hook is) and they’re all a blast to scrounge up and can significantly improve your character as well as customize it to your personal play style.
That’s the thing about Terraria. It’s all about convenience. All the items you have on your character stay on your character, no matter whose world you’ve jumped into. There’s even a piggy bank that functions as your own private storage. No one can see what you put in there, and any piggy bank on any server will have your stuff in it. Also, instead of dropping everything you are carrying when you die, you simply lose an amount of money depending on how much you were carrying upon your death. My favorite part: Tools, weapons, and armor don’t wear out. You make a fancy ass sword, you can keep it as long as you want. Convenience!
So what’s the point of hoarding all these health crystals and stockpiling awesome weapons and armor? To summon and kill giant eyeballs with teeth/huge sandworms/super-duper-sized, disembodied skeleton heads, of course! The combat really is top notch and is reminescent of a post-Symphony of the Night Castlevania or a 2D Metroid. There are a lot of monsters to fight, each of them exclusive to different areas of the map, and there are even occasional random events like the invasion of a goblin army or the occurrence of a blood moon to keep you on your toes. You can even build a couple of forts and go head to head against your friends, as Terraria makes organizing PVP a snap!
Graphically, this isn’t going to knock any socks off. Lofty concepts aside, this is an indie-ass indie game and that’s exactly what it looks like. I’ve even heard it compared to bad RPG Maker game, and while I don’t think it looks quite that bad, it’s definitely not gorgeous; however, for what it is, I think it works just fine. Honestly, if you’re complaining about graphics in a game like Terraria just save your $9.99. Spend it on graphics or something, graphics-face.
It’s important to note that Terraria isn’t finished. There are lots of changes and new additions planned for the future, so don’t get too comfy with how things are. That being said, as things stand now, the end game is a bit weak. Granted it takes a good bit of doing to get to the point where you can hold your own in the underworld for more than a few seconds, but once you get the really good stuff, plan to have some downtime away from the game until Re-Logic starts beefing up the end game in their updates. Don’t take that the wrong way; this is by all means a complete game. Expect a good 20 hours or more of Terraria-ing before you start to wonder what to do next.
Right now, Terraria offers multiplayer for up to 8 people at a time in a server. Currently the most reliable way to connect to your friends is through Hamachi, a third party virtual private network software that’s been around forever. Fortunately, Hamachi is a breeze to use and you should have no problem using it to enjoy some great, relatively lag-free multiplayer in no time flat. This is all due to change in the very near future, so it won’t be long before you won’t even have to bother with third party stuff.
Terraria is a great game and a serious contender for Minecraft’s spot as top dog of the indie sandbox games. There is no doubt where it took a lot of its cues, but Terraria has way more to offer than just being a quick diversion from your latest project making a scale model of the USS Enterprise or whatever it is you do on Minecraft.
Phew… I managed to make it through this whole review and only mentioned Minecraft eight times.
Nine times… Dammit!