Terraria comes at a very convenient time, where the sandbox genre has built its way to the top through the ingenuity of one sensation, Minecraft. Although Terraria shares a key mechanic with Minecraft the indie developer Re-Logic has given Terraria its own identity as a 2D side-scrolling action game that shares more in kind with Metroid. The popularity of Minecraft certainly helps Terraria since these ‘mining’ games have not been hip until this past year, so I’m glad that Terraria could piggy back on the success of Minecraft. On the surface it may look like the same old “destroy and build the world as you see fit” but if you dig deeper you will see that this is no two dimensional rip off. So let’s get our hands dirty and see what Terraria has to offer.
The idea of Terraria is that you are an adventurer in a fantasy land trying to survive. There is no overall purpose or goal to the game, but you must harvest resources and build things in order to defend youself for the evil monsters that wander your world. At it’s heart it is a mining game, where you dig into the depths of the world, searching for rare metals, secret caverns, and precious materials that can be used to craft useful and exciting items. The sheer number of specific items you can build is mind boggling and even with the time I spent with the game I have probably only saw a third of the possibilities. There is a vast array of weapons and tools that you can create from swords to grappling hooks, granted that you have found the correct materials. Sometimes, if you are searching in the depths of the underground you will stumble upon a life saving sword, or one of the many treasures hidden throughout the land.
What lies beyond the dark depths of a cave?
Of course the world is made up of blocks, and each world is totally randomly generated. During the day you usually harvest resources and build your home because once the sun sets, the stronger mobs appear. Do not make the mistake I did and try and be a hero by defending the land from limitless zombies. That doesn’t end well. While adventuring I found that being able to see more of the world at a glance made me want to explore further and see what was on the other side of every rock, wall, and dirt patch. Aside from the beautiful sprites and retro-style graphics, the 2D perspective adds something that gives the game a totally different feel from anything else. Having the ability to see all around you makes digging feel much more accessible, as Terraria allows you to take in whole areas of the world at once and you are not limited to a first person view. This makes not only mining more efficient but you can also see what is coming up next, be it a precious metal, hidden treasure, or a nasty enemy. Even though this perspective allows you to see more of the world, Terraria still manages to create tension while exploring in the depths of a dark cavern.