“The deeper you get, the harder it gets.” That’s the promise that Greg Jones, European PR manager for 505 Games, made as I picked up the controller to play Terraria for the first time. The PC version arrived mid-way through 2011 and quickly became a best (as well as consistent) seller on Steam; shifting over 2 million copies by January 2013.
Terraria is an interesting beast; part side scrolling action-adventure, part role playing game, there are so many intriguing facets to the title that it becomes difficult to pin it to a genre. The distinctive, tile-based graphic style has drawn some comparisons to Minecraft, in that they are both reminiscent of the 16-bit era, as well as classic 2D side scrollers like Metroid and Castlevania (in fact, many games of this ilk are said to have a Metroidvania style).
A key aspect of Terraria is that the world in which you adventure is procedurally generated. What this means is that every time you load up to play a new level, it’ll be different. Resources will be found in different areas, as will the types and frequency of enemies, which adds a level of replayability that can’t be underestimated.
The game has a day and night feature that affects the types of enemies that come after you. During the hours of daylight you are at your safest; Greg advised me to build a suitable shelter on the soon as I began to avoid an easy death as night fell.
Whilst avoiding death is a key theme, the main thrust of the game is to collect resources (primarily through mining), to craft weapons and armour so that you can fight larger and stronger enemies. Digging deeper underground will not only reward you with more rare and precious materials to find the biggest and baddest beast to defeat.
For one thing, the control system is entirely different: a necessity of the differences between a keyboard and mouse versus the controller. Rather than relying on the precision afforded by PC inputs, the game now has an auto aim feature that can be toggled on or off. In a resource mining situation for example, the default setting will allow you to mine every square within your reach, rather than swinging your pick-axe in the air.
The console version also brings with it split-screen co-operative play. Up to three of your friends can pick up a controller and sit next to you on the sofa as you delve deeper and deeper into the caverns. Online, this multiplayer component allows a massive eight players to roam Terraria simultaneously.
Before this preview, I must admit I hadn’t played Terraria, so much of the differences between the PC and console versions will have been lost on me. What Greg told me though was impressive; “we have only added”. This is in stark contrast to any Minecraft comparisons then, as any hardcore Minecraft fans will tell you that key features are missing from the Xbox version. To have a highly rated PC game as your starting point to then build on means Terraria is a very promising proposition.
With Terraria, the PC stalwarts have been keeping a careful eye on how the console version has been stacking up, with frequent forum posts and emails to 505 begging for announced features to be carried across to the PC.
To truly get a feel for the game I implore you to try it out: a trial version will be available when the game is released later this year. If you’re keen to see for yourself before then, check out the latest trailer.