Terraria has been around for a while now, having originally been released on PC, and developed quite a following. Now that clamorous audience of fans is expanding with it’s recent release on consoles.For those that are unaware of the game, you start in a randomly generated pixelated world that is highly polished and has a pleasing retro feel.
You have no direction or objective, you simply have to explore the world and figure things out. Terraria is a harsh and unforgiving world with some dauntingly large maps to explore and I got killed a lot, over and over, popping up again in my respawn point. I would tell you to build a house first, since it will protect you from zombies, but personally I just found it tedious. Instead I chose to abandon the idea almost straight away and run off into the great unknown to see what magical items I could find.
That was my first mistake…
Like many gamers out there I love collecting loot – there’s just something very satisfying about opening a treasure chest, no matter what’s inside and in Terraria they are everywhere. You can dig in almost any direction and you’re guaranteed to find something interesting. So great are the explorational options you can even build a ladder to the heavens and find a floating island. I set out to find the materials needed to make a sturdy pair of pants so I could stop getting killed and could venture further into the great unknown. My eventual aim was to explore multi-level dungeons, discover more valuable treasures and overcome challenging bosses.
After upping the ante, crafting takes a back seat, especially for those of us who are fans of Metroid or Castlevania. There’s a huge variety of monsters to kill and almost as many weapons to choose from, including lightsabers, ninja stars, demonically possessed boomerangs, claymores, hammers, bows… pretty much anything and everything you can imagine. It’s quite inspired and very charming. The music adds to the charm with its chirpy 16 bit tunes and relaxing melodies, it proves to be one of the games greatest strengths.
As enjoyable as exploration and crafting items is, all in all the gameplay feels a little lacking without any kind of story. I don’t ask for much but even a rudimentary narrative would suffice – it would make the constant digging, fighting and grind a little more compelling. Terraria overcomes this minor issue by providing you with a throughly enjoyable online multiplayer experience, which can be played in split screen with up to four players, or by searching for open games online, something which didn’t work out quite well on the Xbox version. I got the “no games found” message far too often (although this may well soon be rectified with an upcoming patch). This left me with two options, continue to play solo and die a lot, or invite up to 8 friends using the party option. That’s the best way to go obviously, since you not only can craft or build structures much easier with the help of friends but you stand a better chance of surviving dungeons and caverns and of course finding better and better loot.
It’s not a complex game but the learning curve is quite steep and not really an enjoyable climb. Its a serious undertaking, contrary to it’s welcomingly nostalgic feel, Terraria is relentlessly tough at times and the more people you have to play it with you the better. If you are really persistent all the chores pay off with some amazingly good dungeons and boss battles.
The Good: Charming retro look, exploration never gets old, oodles of creative weapons to discover
The Bad: Some difficulty playing online, could’ve done with some sort of narrative.
Overall: 4 out of 5
We were given a download code for the Xbox 360 version of Terraria for review purposes.