- Multiplayer options are expansive
- Great visuals and soundtrack
- It’s like Minecraft…
- …but much more restrictive
- Controls aren’t fantastic
- Gets dull fast when playing solo
Late last year, publisher 505 Games broke the surprising news that the PC hit game Terraria was headed to consoles. Fast forward to the present and it has finally arrived on both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. So what exactly is Terraria? Well, to put it simply and perhaps somewhat bluntly – it’s basically a 2D version of Minecraft. It features the same open-ended gameplay as Mojang’s aforementioned game, it mostly involves mining, crafting and building and it even features similar retro-style graphics, albeit with one less dimension. But does it match the ridiculously high standards of the game that it’s inspired by? Read on to find out…
When you first start a save file in Terraria, you’re asked to do three things – select your difficulty (one of which actually prevents you from ever respawning again after dying – brutal!), select your world size and customise your character. Just like in Minecraft the entire world is randomly generated when making a new game, and your first task is to create a house or a fort for yourself before the monsters (which include zombies, evil green blobs, flying demon eyes and more) come out at night (once again, just like Minecraft). You begin the game with a variety of tools at your disposal, such as the pickaxe, to harvest building materials around you such as dirt blocks, stone blocks and the like, which can then be reused for construction.
Where Terraria differs a bit from Minecraft is in how much focus the game puts on fighting enemies. Rather than leaving you to just get on with your own thing and build stuff, the game actively encourages you to craft armour and weapons which can be equipped to give you a better chance at defeating any baddies that you come across that would otherwise be too strong for you to tackle. We’re not just talking about zombies and floating demon eyes here though – Terraria actually features full-fledged bosses. Defeating these bosses nets you extremely rare items, some of which you can’t find anywhere else in the game world, so it’s well worth tracking them down.
Visually the game looks like how you’d imagine a SNES title would look with a much higher resolution and fancier, modern lighting effects. It really does look lovely. Not everyone will appreciate the graphics, just like some didn’t with Minecraft, but it’s their loss because it’s a truly great looking, vibrant, colourful game. This old-meets-new style is also reflected in the game’s gorgeous soundtrack, which features a brilliant mix of retro 8-bit beeps/bops and orchestral music.
As mentioned at the beginning of the review, Terraria was actually originally a PC exclusive, so there have been some worries about how it’d transition across to consoles, particularly in regards to the controls. Well thankfully the game handles better than you’d have expected on Xbox 360, with the right analog stick used to aim where you want to place something and the back right trigger to use your currently equipped item, whether that be a sword or a wood block for instance. There is significantly less precision and accuracy in placing blocks and items than on the PC version however, but if you’re just playing casually it shouldn’t be a problem.
The thing about Terraria is that it’s a very much an acquired taste. It’s a game that doesn’t have any real goal to work towards and there’s nothing you can really do that gives you a true sense of achievement or accomplishment. At the end of the day, working through the game’s actual achievement/trophy list is the closest thing you can get for something to do to keep you occupied once you’ve built your house and had enough of randomly exploring the game world and fighting the odd boss now and then.
The reason that Minecraft works so well even without any traditional goals is because the crafting and building is a massive part of the fun and the possibilities are virtually endless with the expansive variety of block types and the huge 3D world that’s completely at your disposal. Terraria, on the other hand, offers a much more limited experience due to its two-dimensional nature and the fact that focus is put less on building and sculpting the game world and more on exploration to find rare resources and treasure that can be used to create better armour and weapons that allow you to take on some of the more difficult bosses.
That’s not to say that Terraria is a rubbish game however. Far from it, it’s a good game that has a lot going for it – exploration and character customisation is much more refined than in Minecraft, the multiplayer side of things is expansive, deep and works really well (the inclusion of player-versus-player mode really opens up the possibilities), visually it looks a treat and the soundtrack is really something special. It’s a game that is definitely better suited to its original platform, the PC, due mostly to the much more precise and accurate controls, but it works well enough on the Xbox 360. In the end then Terraria is a decent title and makes for an interesting 2D take on the Minecraft sandbox survival formula, but it definitely isn’t for everyone.