For every article on the web relating to Terraria there will be at least one reference to a certain other Indie title which apparently shares similarities with it. So to get it out of the way, here comes mine. Terraria is not a Minecraft clone as some might have you believe, they both have simplistic graphical styles, give players freedom to remove and build blocks in a randomly generated environment and have a mining and crafting system. That is where the similarities stop. With that done, on to the actual review.
Terraria is a 2D action RPG in which your goal is to explore a huge, randomly generated world inhabited by monsters, demons and bunnies, all while finding and building items which will enable you to travel farther and deeper into the games content. When you first create your character and world you’ll start out in an empty area of dirt, sand, trees and water, with only the game’s guide and a number of hostile, wandering slimes for company. From here on out it is entirely up to you how you play the game, while certain milestones will need to be met, such as houses needing to be built for other friendly NPCs to move in to, it is up to you to choose how these milestones are achieved.
Much of what many will consider to be the core game involves digging underground killing enemies for money and mining various materials to improve your weapons and armour. With multiple types of weaponry including; swords, bows, guns, boomerangs, ninja stars and others that I haven’t found yet, even after 30 hours of gameplay on one character, the combat in Terraria plain and simply works. At its core combat consists of equipping a weapon, waiting for the target to get in range and clicking, aim is required for ranged weapons but it doesn’t try too hard to be fancy. More depth is constantly being added to the combat mechanics with frequent updates to the game, the last patch in particular introduced critical hits and ammo storage, previous updates have added potions which provide various buffs to the player on top of the standard health and mana potions. For a while combat may not even seem to important and might just be seen as another method of survival and gathering materials, this is of course until you meet one of the game’s three bosses.
In most cases the first boss a player will face will be the Eye of Cthulu (see above), he will spawn on random nights until you eventually defeat him, which can take a very long time, even if you are able to survive him, killing him requires weapons that can whittle down his health before the sun rises and he floats off back into your nightmares. While the other two bosses won’t randomly appear in an ongoing effort to make you cry, it is still worth hunting them down to earn whatever loot they drop.
When you eventually reach the upper tiers of armour the game then becomes about you doing whatever the hell you want while you find more items to assist you in the genocide of whatever species of monster you hate the most. It’s here that the weapons really start to feel fun, gone are the golden swords and silver bows, now you have lightsabers and cannons that shoot stars out of them. Some might take this period of time as an opportunity to hunt down their world’s version of hidden biomes such as underground jungles or floating islands, all containing yet more loot.
Aside from the wonderfully retro soundtrack and huge amount of random events, I won’t praise a lot more, mostly due to the fact that I have to complain at some point but also due to me not having enough hours to write a novelisation of my playthrough. So here comes the thunder.
You will eventually run out of stuff to do. In a standard singleplayer game, this is expected, but in Terraria it’s a problem. In a game without any clear objective or plot, you expect the game to keep you entertained, but at some point you will have the best weapon, the best armour and the best equipable stats boosters, and not have anything to do with them other than kill the stuff you’d already been killing for however many hours before. This is however being addressed in future updates, with Re-Logic having said they aim to give players more to do, with more biomes, world types and other such magic being introduced.
There is no tutorial. Dependant on how much understanding you have of the game prior to playing it, you may take a very long time understanding how basic things such as crafting and NPC housing work. Since launch this has been addressed slightly, with the Guide now giving more helpful tips than he used to. At the later stage of the game, the lack of handholding makes discovering new weapon recipes a challenge, one that will keep you playing, but when you start out it’s not the most encouraging thing.
Finally, joining a friend for co-op is much more irritating than it should be. In most Steam games you’d expect to just be able to accept an invite and instantly start joining their game. In Terraria however you must first find out the host’s IP address then enter it into the menu to connect. This is far from difficult, but when the person you’re trying to join first requires an explanation on what an IP address is shortly before sending you the wrong set of numbers, it’s the opposite of a good time.
I wish I had more bad things to say about Terraria, I have much more fun pointing out flaws in games/people than I do proclaiming their brilliance, but Terraria is fun in digital form and at the low price it’s available for, I’d say it’s quite the bargain.