First impressions are a real pain. First impressions would tell you that Terraria is a like-for-like 2D Minecraft clone – a rushed indie project patched together in five months to cash in on its inspiration’s gargantuan success. However, with a promising trailer showcasing old-school Castlevania-esque gameplay along with the expected exploration, I took a chance on the game when it arrived early last week.

By Friday, I had sunk 22 hours into the caverns, wilds and dungeons of Terraria. A Minecraft clone this ain’t. True, the game doesn’t do much from the outset to make you think otherwise. Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: after randomly generating a new world, you’re plunked onto an unknown location on the world map, tasked with gathering some wood to build a shelter and even a workbench.

But the differences soon become apparent when, during your first night alone in the wilderness, you get attacked by an onslaught of slimes while trying to build a simple dirt shelter. Terraria is hard, with a great emphasis on combat, survival and gearing up to overpower your foes. Although you can happily while away your time building vast structures out of all sorts of materials (from grass mounds to raw meteorite), it’s much more enticing to forge a molten chest-plate or a grappling hook, which provides the basis for some seriously addictive content-progression. There are also a number of mammoth bosses, such as the Eye of Cthulu and the Eater of Worlds, which require great dexterity and perseverance to overcome, rewarding the player with new crafting materials and access to new loot should they succeed.

And what loot. Even though the game was released ahead of schedule, the game is simply packed with content. From relics like the Hermes’ Boots (which allow the player to dash across the land) to the legendary rocket boots (self-explanatory), there are all sorts of item drops which change your character in significant ways. The random nature of land-formation and object placement means that no two worlds will play exactly the same, although they will all share common elements, such as a hidden sky mass or two and a dangerous dungeon. It’s up to you what order you tackle these challenges, though.

The open-ended gameplay is extended to the multiplayer, which caters to a variety of play-styles. Want to team up against dungeon-guard Skeletron? You’ll have a much better chance with a friend by your side. Or would you rather construct an epic fort as a team to fend off a goblin invasion, one of the many in-game events? Heck, there’s even scope for PVP, with a built-in team toggle for turning on your own allies. Ingeniously, there’s no real limitation on item progression; although storage-chests are world-specific, your player stats and inventory travels with you, which means you can quickly hop onto an online server and show off your progress.

While I would gladly talk at length about all the fun I’ve had with Terraria, it isn’t perfect. For starters, there are some niggling interface issues regarding screen-resolution as well as inventory management, and intermittent crashes can be a problem. Multiplayer hosting is also a little unstable for some players, with no Steam network-support present, instead rocking classic IP-address configurations. While I personally find the 2D sprite-work and retro-chic melodies charming, those enamoured by HD gaming may be put off, despite some nice lighting effects. And although a certain type of gamer will appreciate its initial challenge, variable-difficulties and a tutorial would be welcome; for some, starting out with no armour or weapons might just be too tough. That said, these are very minor complaints in an otherwise excellent package.







3 responses to “Terraria”

  1. Max Firestorm avatar
    Max Firestorm

    Finally. Someone who looks beneath the surface of “Oh, this is just a Minecraft clone. I won’t bother.” and sees what this game really is all about.

  2. ElementX avatar

    Good review. I picked up the game last night and only put about an hour or two into it. I’m frustrated with all the slimes, but it’s addicting and I’ve been thinking about the game all day. If only I could leave work sooner.

  3. Mark P avatar

    Bloody loving this game. So much more fun than Minecraft.

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