Quick Review: Terraria

It’s been about a month since Terraria entered the public domain on Steam, and was immediately met with comparisons, fair or not, to Minecraft. As a fan of Minecraft myself, I decided to grab a copy of Terraria, and see how similar it was to Minecraft. I’ve been playing long enough that I think I can do a proper review of the game.

Terraria has a similar basic premise as Minecraft: you start as a character in the midst of an unexplored wilderness, and it’s up to you to explore and tame the land. The world around you is crawling with all sorts of different enemies and, unlike Minecraft, a lot of enemies wander around during the day (though there are night-specific enemies, such as the prerequisite zombies).

Unlike Minecraft, though, you start off with a pickaxe and an axe, and, as you use these, you realize that tools in this game do not have durability like they do in Minecraft. What that means is that you can use tools and they’ll never break. This is quite useful, actually. Of course, you can craft stronger versions of tools, which destroy blocks faster.

The next major differences to Minecraft is that Terraria is a 2D sidescroller, and the worlds you play in are finite. At the outset, you decide on what size of world you want to generate (small, medium, or large), and the entire map is generated then and there. There is a limit to how far left, right, up, and down you can travel. However, even with the smallest map size, it’ll take quite a long time to fully explore your map.

The similarities to Minecraft continue in that you mine the world for blocks, which you can then use to craft items, weapons, and armor. You can use blocks to construct buildings, and furnish those houses with furniture. You’ll eventually notice something that Terraria offers, which Minecraft doesn’t, in the form of NPCs. Once you reach certain goals, different NPCs will move into your town. Each NPC plays a specific role: there’s a merchant, a nurse, a demolitionist, and so on. Each NPC also has a set amount of HP, so they can be killed by enemies if you’re not careful.

It’s from this point that Terraria really becomes its own game. Sure, you’ll set out to do a lot of exploring, and you’ll think creatively as you construct all sorts of buildings. However, Terraria has a stronger focus on battles. I’ve heard people claim that Terraria is sort of a Minecraft meets Castlevania type game, which fits.

You can craft various weapons and armor (and find weapons, armor, and gear in your explorations). There are all manner of baddies out there in your world waiting to be fought. You’ll start off fighting slimes, but when night falls you’ll find yourself fighting zombies and demon eyes. Sometimes you’ll have to survive a Blood Moon event, which essentially just means more zombies and blood eyes will spawn around you (and zombies gain the ability to open doors, which they can’t normally do).

Another, much rarer, event is the Goblin Invasion, which is just what it sounds like: various types of goblins (including soldiers and mages) will rush your town. They can easily kill your NPCs, if you’re not careful.

There are also “secret” bosses you can fight. Currently there are three main bosses, each summoned in their own way. Skeletron is the easiest to find (and perhaps the most difficult to defeat); each world generally has one dungeon somewhere on the map, and each dungeon is guarded by Skeletron. You can’t explore the dungeon until you defeat Skeletron. Another boss is the Eater of Worlds, which can be summoned in the Corruption area of a map. The third boss, Eye of Cthulu, can be summoned by items dropped by Demon Eyes, which you then use to craft an item at a Demon Altar.

Anyway, Terraria also offers a multiplayer mode, which supports PvP style of gaming. From what I’ve seen, it seems setting up multiplayer servers is much easier to manage in Terraria than in Minecraft.

After all the time I’ve spent with Terraria, I’m no longer wont to do with Minecraft comparisons. Sure, there are similarities, but what Minecraft did was pretty much establish a new genre of video games. Once you have that sort of precedent, it’s no surprise that other games will follow suit. Terraria takes the basic premise of Minecraft, and runs in its own direction.

The game is still being developed, and new versions are being released, each of which offers plenty of new features. The most recent version update, 1.0.4, added vanity items and a mini-boss (King Slime), among other things. Vanity items are clothing items you place in certain inventory slots that simply change your characters appearance; you gain no stat boosts from items place in vanity slots in your inventory. The upcoming 1.0.5 version promises to add a “hardcore” mode, which applies to new characters you create. Hardcore Mode characters can only be killed once. After they’ve been killed, that’s it, they can’t ever be played as again. (You do gain a tombstone at the location of that character’s death, though)

So, there you have it. Terraria is available on the Steam store, currently for $10. Definitely worth a purchase.

I give Terraria 4 Meteorites out of 5

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