30 Oct


Filed under: PC Games No Responses

Welcome to my humble abode in the world of Terraria!

Minecraft was without doubt the breakout indie hit of 2010, instantly giving its creator fame and fortune and inspired countless programmers to try their hand at indie game development. I chose to give it a miss however. It sounded more like a toy than a game to me and I don’t really feel inspired to create anything out of blocks, especially since Internet forums are full of pictures of silly things like giant dicks made in Minecraft. So along comes Terraria, which has some of the crafting and world-shaping features of Minecraft, but within the context of a true game and I found myself instantly hooked.

To the uninitiated, you can think of Terraria as your standard fantasy action game, albeit set in an anachronistic 2D environment and using correspondingly low resolution graphics. Unlike RPGs however, your character doesn’t gain experience and become innately more powerful over time. Instead, it’s all about gathering materials from the world and crafting them into increasingly better gear. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the console games Monster Hunter and Demon’s Souls in that regard. As such your primary tool isn’t your main weapon, but your trusty pickaxe, with which you mine everything from dirt to stone to demonite ore.

Other important tools include an axe to chop down trees and gather wood plus a hammer, which is used mostly to recover previously placed objects without destroying them and removing bits of the background. The game has a day-night cycle and more aggressive monsters spawn at night. As such, the first order of business of a new player is to gather materials, usually wood, to build a house, complete with walls and doors, to keep the monsters out at night. You’ll also want some torches inside to provide light, crafting stations like a workbench and later a forge and an anvil, and eventually a bed that you can use to set your spawn point when you die or when you re-enter the game after exiting.

Fighting with a skeleton deep underground. Notice the little torches I’d placed everywhere for light.

Better weapons and armor usually come from gathering ever rarer ores. This means going deeper and deeper underground, and naturally the deeper you go the nastier the critters are. There’s no plot or definite end to the game, but once you’re defeated all of the bosses and have obtained the best gear, there’s not much point in continuing. Considering how many different biomes there are in the game to explore, desert, jungle, dungeons, and even hell itself, that takes a good bit of time and plenty of fun gameplay.

My favorite part of the game is how you can and need to reshape the world. For example, the most convenient way to access the deepest levels of the underground is by constructing what Terraria players call a Hellevator, a elevator shaft that drops straight into hell. That’s a massive and time-consuming engineering project in its own right. Often, the greatest obstacles to your progress aren’t monsters at all, but the environment itself. Large bodies of water are a problem as you can drown in them, so it’s often necessary to create canals to redirect them away from the spot where you need to mine or build something. When you dig deeper, lava is a similar but much more difficult challenge as the merest touch of lava will set you aflame. Furthermore, the easiest way to defeat the bosses is to construct a specialized arena to confront them in.

On the downside, I’d say that the game is almost impossible to play without referring to a wiki. There are just too many crafting possibilities and the game won’t tell you what an item does until you’ve made one. The game provides a NPC guide character to help out but it doesn’t work well in practice. Who can figure out on their own that to make an alchemy station to brew potions on you need to place an empty glass bottle on a table? Or that to craft a set of Molten Armor, you need both hellstone bars plus the appropriate pieces of Gold Armor? Without the wiki, most players will probably miss the sky islands or even the underground jungle.

The Eye of Cthulhu looks upset. But I can easily dodge his attacks inside my arena.

I understand however that the developers are still actively working on the game, adding more endgame bosses to fight and items to collect. Plus new events like the Zombie Blood Moon and the Goblin Invasions are always fun to participate in. Overall, this is one very impressive indie game and I’m not sorry I sunk so many hours into. Due to its retro-look and music, it’s also so charming that it’s one of the rare games that my wife will actually want to watch me play, commenting that it reminds her of the old Mario Brothers games. And it has been so successful that it managed to keep the crown as the bestselling game on Steam for nearly a week. Not bad for an indie game that only took a year to make.

Here are a few more screenshots just for the heck of it:

It’s the Devourer of Worlds! Don’t let him eat you.

This pool of lava is blocking my Hellevator, so I diverted water into it, turning it into Obsidian that I needed to make hellstone bars anyway.

Skeletron has awoken! But he’s still mincemeat to an adventurer kitted out with the best gear in the game.
Written on October 30 2011 and is filed under PC Games. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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