I am going to start off this review by stating that Minecraft does nothing for me. At best, it is an interactive Lego-simulator with a fun survival-mode. At worst, it is an empty, blocky world that does not contain any purpose other than what you make of it, which I can do fine with Lego. Because of this, it might have seemed odd that I went and purchased Terraria one day out of free will. I was still quite unsure about my decision since Terraria often was classified as a 2D version of Minecraft, but because of the loss of one dimension, the genre changed into a Metroidvania-style and the tools to create were more varied and imaginative. I figured any game needs a chance and since watching game-footages never gave me a clear idea of whether a game was worth my time or not, I purchased it.
So many choices to dig
After creating your custom character from a vast amount of options, you are set in a huge side scrolling world with a guide to greet. Through him, you will be able to both get hints on what you can do for progression and have already been blessed with three tools: a sword, an axe, and a pickaxe. Because this will provide a bunch of different parts you can do in this game, let us start with the main-part: mining. With a pickaxe in hand, you can dig in the ground by either having specific hits on dirt, or make it so you automatically destroy anything in the path you aim towards.
Why would you explore the caves? First off, you need to find materials to make new items, and they range in both decorative items, tools for exploring, and weapons and armour to defend yourself with. From a dangerous yo-yo and a grappling-hook to a toilet, it is always engaging to see what you can make with the materials you have gained, especially when they can help you progress further in the game. Also through exploration, there are a lot of different elements you can come across, with some examples being bizarre creatures, rare treasures, and even giant beating hearts. These elements encourage you to discover more and it is great that the game gives you such a vast world, where you decide how to progress.
You are never safe, though. You must prepare before you enter the cave, with torches, a decent pickaxe, ropes, and other tools for support. While you are a decent jumper, that is all you have from the start in terms of abilities. You cannot wall jump, swim, survive underwater for too long, and you will take falling-damage from great heights, so tools and equipment will be important. Creating items from materials will be important, but you might also get lucky and find some rare items in chests, such as a helmet which also functions as a light-source, umbrella to slow your decent or claws for clinging onto walls. The night and day cycle is present, so a comfy house is recommended for safety from the creatures of the night. This leads me to the town you can make. By making other houses, you will get new people that will use the other houses as their homes. You are going to want this as you can get plenty of different vendors and other supportive characters, with my personal favourite being the demolition guy for obvious reasons.
Then there is your combat-skills. The monsters comes in a vast variety and all are dangerous, from normal zombies, slimes and bats, to creatures based off of Lovecraft’s mythology that are terrifying. You are far from the most skilled combatant either, as you are reduced to one attack-button. However, just like how your skills for traversing are upgraded by gathering new tools, you need to do so for both defensive and offensive moves. From a simple, but effective sword to a snowball-cannon (and beyond), you can create and find different tools to take on fiends in your way. This is further helped by armour that can give-stat boosts, or grant new abilities like rocket-jumps.
What makes this combat work, is that enemies are aggressive, but very simple in approach, making it so the combat never demands more than what you can provide. Some weapons have knockbacks for creating distance, or might thrive on creative stage-layout due to ricochet off walls, and because of the large caves and open worlds, the terrains are never poorly designed unless you made them so yourself.
I might sound much more secretive than I would usually be in other reviews. However, due to the vast different elements you can discover based on the randomised worlds that can even make it so you will end up in a snowy field or grassy mountains, half of the fun is actually exploring and creating your approach to the game. There is a clear goal to get to the bottom of this world, but how you do it and what you discover, is all up to you. No path is wrong, no discovery worthless, and only the ones who do not plan ahead, will bite the dust more often than they would like to admit. It is odd that when perhaps 80% of the game consists of mining and crafting, it is still entertaining and engaging thanks to the vast variety of elements and items to discover. The sense of danger is always there, you are always making progress, and the simple abilities your characters have has the world designed around it. This was worth losing one dimension for.
Gameplay Score: 10/10
I love the enormous backgrounds, making the world seem grand and majestic with all areas containing lovely details in this cartoony fantasy-world. Creatures, items, and equipments are all magical and adorable, with a favourite of mine being the raincoat-wearing zombies. Animations on the characters are limited and minor, but adds to the charm where everything can be so small. Similar to how you look closely at a terrarium to see every detail.
Speaking of which, the details in these characters are very impressive and to think how hard it must have been to make these few pixels shine so bright. The light engine is pretty impressive as well and the worlds are varied and welcoming. I also love that you can even have one set of armour shown, while getting the stats from another, making you both fashionable, while still retaining your boost. The only problem is that there can be long stretches of nothing, but dirt. It does make the discovery of creatures, items, locations and materials that more exciting, as well as give you a sense of being a small person in a huge world. Unfortunately, there will be times where you simply get tired of one location and will search for something else based on the visuals alone.
The soothing soundtrack is fitting for the worlds you are in. It changes tones from one location to another really well, keeping you immersed in this world. The bright daylight in the sun is accompanied by a light tune with some violin, and the dark caves consist of echoes of electronic piano for example. They are not memorable because they have low tones and have no clear notes to create a memorable tune, but works well to create a decent atmosphere. Small grunts and enemies making sounds are also decent and adds to the charm, but nothing spectacular.
Presentation Score: 8/10
Let’s go on a adventure! Again!
With every new playthrough, there is something new to discover with randomised layouts, size, and elements in the world, making it easy to start a new game (despite that the game can be anywhere from 20 to 40 hours). What is the absolute best part about this game, is to go on this adventure with friends and it is always a lovely trip, with the ability to set up a player vs player-match, or hardcore mode where you will stay dead when you die, which are great extras. It really gives you a reason to play it again with other friends and there is even more challenge for the dedicated to take on.
Extra Score: 10/10
Terraria is a fantastic showcase that creativity and design go over any form of technology. It has a fantastic focus on exploration, rewarding you with new items and tools to create, with a vivid and imaginative world, that is not afraid of being a bit silly. Because of so many elements to discover and making both combat and exploration fun despite the limited abilities you start out with, you will always feel a sense of progression and accomplishment, especially when you get tools to alter your abilities. It must be noted that Terraria is designed for PC, so I would not recommend the console-versions based on the controls alone. These versions do have certain exclusive content, but should only be considered if PC is absolutely not an option.