Allow me to start by saying this game isn’t Minecraft just as Silent Hill is not Resident Evil, they’re simply games in a similar genre. Digging digital holes is now becoming my favourite pastime, it’s reaching the point where I’m adding in structural supports, not because they’re needed but simply because I feel like they should be added.
Terraria has a pleasant aesthetic design, the sprite style is one that I’ve always enjoyed and this is no exception. The basic style means that it’s quite easy to tell the different environments from each other, desert, forest, underground jungle, dungeon and all the enemies can easily be identified; you know if it’s a Zombie or an Eater of Souls that’s trying to kill you. The game also features some nice cheery background music, though it can start to get repetitive after several hours of game play. The best sounds are from the mining. The ‘chink’ of your pickaxe on rock is a nice comfortable sound that fits right into the games style, which is good because you’ll be hearing it a lot. The noises from the guns, swords and boomerangs are also pleasant, explosions don’t have as much bass as I’d like but that is a minor point.
Gameplay wise this game is a lot like Minecraft, though I prefer to think of it more as Lego, in the sense that the experience is what you make of it. The game doesn’t have any set objectives, it doesn’t have quests and there is no way to fail at it. That being said there is an obvious and clear means of progressing through Terraria. You start off with a copper pickaxe and there are several tiers to advance through. Some are clear, iron for example is just found in the ground, though some are more difficult to acquire, the molten pickaxe requires several steps and for you to forge it you need to reach the lowest level on the map, the underworld. Some items require you to collect items from the corpses of fallen bosses to be forged and some items can’t be created and must be found in chests either in caves or on floating islands.
In addition to advancing through pickaxes, swords, armour, guns, spells and accessories you can increase your health and mana to progress through more enemy types. At the start of the game the resident slimes, that attack during the day will be enough to keep you busy, fending them off while you build your first shack, but after a few hours you’ll be able to dismiss the slimes with a single swipe of your sword. There are also bosses for you to tackle, and even after ten hours I was still having my hide tanned by some.
Some interesting things that Terraria does are that firstly your character is persistent, you can take them from any world into any other, and even online. Next, when you die the only consequence is that half your gold is dropped, and if you can reach your body you can reclaim it, your items aren’t scattered to the four winds and your max health and mana stay at your pre-death level. Another thing that Terraria adds is NPCs. You start off with a guide who offers some highly unhelpful hints but over time you can attract a variety of useful NPC’s from merchants to healers. To get the NPC to stay you’ll not only need to meet their criteria, such as 50 silver for the merchant but you’ll also need to make sure they have their own house for them to stay in, otherwise they’ll leave.
Crafting in Terraria is an easy process, you simply go up to one of your crafting apparatus – table, anvil or forge – open your inventory and see what you can create. This means you’re not stuck trying to remember the layout for a door or sticky bomb, you simply scroll to it if you’ve got the required ingredients, click on it and you’ve created it. This simple interface and thoughful memory implementation makes it very user friendly.
Terraria isn’t perfect though, combat can feel off, with sword swipes not hitting enemies because they’re hiding behind a single block of dirt. Later enemies can fire projectiles that travel through the environment hitting you in the back and launching you into lava and killing you. In the beginning the lack of any real tutorial can leave you feeling without any sense of direction, but a few hours in everything feels perfectly natural and you’ll be digging holes like a pro. Also once you’ve reached the best equipment and beaten the bosses you’re left with no real challenge so you are faced with a dilemma, start a new character or just build your castle and leave your mark on the world.
In closing Terraria is a lot deeper than it would first appear to be, and a truly great time sink. It’s sadly always going to be in Minecraf’ts shadow, this isn’t really deserved but I’m afraid it’s an inevitable consequence of coming out after Minecraft. Either way if you’re growing bored of Minecraft but still enjoying digging holes, pick up Terraria and lose yourself and hours of your day.
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platform: PC Release Date: 16/05/11
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer community member DangerousBobby bought a digital copy of Terraria. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.