Terraria is a world filled to the brim with dozens of creatures, resources, and loot that is simply ripe for the picking. Sure, you could easily compare the 2D action to a familiar multi-million dollar success — that would be Minecraft — but to do so would be selling it for much less than what the game is worth.
Creating your character is the first step on your path to adventure. Players shouldn’t dive in expecting a robust character creation system though. Instead, the game allows you to name your explorer and pick from a set of physical features and color options. This is sure to come as a disappointment for some, but the extent of what you can craft and equip will more than make up for it. After placing the finishing touches on your character, the real fun can finally begin.
Players will establish a world to explore by simply selecting whether they want it to be small, medium, or large. Another important factor is the difficulty level you decide to punish your explorer with. Hard mode is without a doubt a challenge, but generates rare enemies and loot. It’s great to see that there are options for players who may want an experience similar to Minecraft. Creating a significant reason to play on Hard mode helps to establish Terraria’s focus on action, and this is something that I felt contributed greatly to the game’s replay value.
Being able to replay the game with newly generated worlds is another major factor of why many gamers will be coming back to Terraria for some time. Unfortunately, the game can remain a tedious exercise in gathering resources at the beginning stages. This time period of gameplay is also affected by the game’s mildly clunky controls. Clicking in the right analog stick allows players to switch the cursor into a precision mouse-like cursor. It can be very effective, but having to switch between the automated and mouse cursor makes the game feel imprecise at times. Luckily, the controls became increasingly second nature as I played the game for extended periods of time.
The small learning curve of controlling your adventurer is a slight bump to overcome on the road to exploring your brave new world. Gathering resources gradually allows you to craft new weapons, items, tools, and even materials to build or improve your shelter. Yes, the game is about managing resources and crafting, but what makes Terraria stand out is its focus on the dangers of what you uncover while exploring.
Mining deep into the Earth below reveals a world of the unknown where riches are just another few feet below you. Tapping into the resources of the land is what pushes you to gain the ability to craft a wide variety of armor and weaponry. Equipping these higher items is what will allow you to explore the underground caves, oceans, dungeons, and more. Of course, if you dig far enough you may very well wind up in the pits of The Underworld itself.
Pacing is the key to Terraria at the outset. It’s easy to get excited mining and then find yourself face to face with some hideous beast that devours your entire being. It’s a terrifying experience to be completely ill-equipped and have no idea what type of monster you may face. This is what can make the game seem excruciatingly tedious as you hack, slash, and mine your way to shiny new toys. Fortunately, you could always join up with your friends and make the grind to the best gear seem far less torturous.
Joining up with a group of friends online is a blast, and it seems that this is the way the game should be experienced. Terraria becomes highly enjoyable in the late game for single player, but it’s hard to justify the time investment playing alone when recruiting a friend changes the dynamics of the game for the better. It’s a great experience being able to fend off hordes of zombies piling around your shelter with your best friends, then taking on a Demon Eye, and venturing off into the night collecting Fallen Stars, the game’s source of mana.
When you enlist the help of other explorers the game shines brightly, but sometimes playing alone forces a mere flicker. Merely hoping that the next cave isn’t full of demonic creatures or flesh eating worms is certainly bound to get you killed. This is why having back up along the way may very well ease the pain of death.
No matter how you choose to explore the world of Terraria it is a journey well worth taking. Bringing a friend along for the ride will only make it sweeter. A vast expanse of riches, resources, and danger await those brave enough to venture into the farthest reaches of the map. The only question that remains is how far are you willing to go?
This review is based off an Xbox 360 code we received for review purposes.