Terraria Review: Simon Belmont in MineCraft Land

terraria screenshot - Castlevania meets MineCraft
Terraria Review: Simon Belmont in MineCraft Land

Platforms: PC

Game Name: Terraria

Developer: Re-Logic

Genre: Sandbox Adventure

Release Date: May 16, 2011

Welcome to the lush world of Terraria. No doubt you’ve seen it by now, it’s immensely popular. I’m sure half your friends on Steam are playing it right this moment. But we need not get into that.

Developer Summary:

Dig, fight, explore, build! Nothing is impossible in this action-packed adventure game. The world is your canvas and the ground itself is your paint.

Grab your tools and go! Make weapons to fight off a variety of enemies in numerous biomes. Dig deep underground to find accessories, money, and other useful things. Gather resources to create everything you need to make the world your own. Build a house, a fort, or even a castle. People will move in to live there and perhaps even sell you different wares to assist you on your journey.

What We Think:

What IS Terraria, exactly? I’m sure you’ve heard people call it MineCraft, but 2D. But that’s not entirely true. What Terraria IS is important, and it is something that should be settled at some point. So, while I’m sure I’m not the first to say it, I’ll restate it, just to be sure we get off on the right foot. Terraria IS (deep breath): A side-scrolling sandbox adventure exploration Metroidvania game with RPG and item-based character progression with MineCraft-like Build-It aspects. There I said it. Or if you like, you can call it “Castlevania in MineCraft’s world”.

terraria screenshot - Castlevania meets MineCraft

So Much To Do, So Little Time…

So what do you do in Terraria? While I’ll try to keep the word ‘MineCraft’ out of my vocabulary from here on as much as I can, I’ll say the object is to survive. And, boy will you be surviving. Right off the bat you will need to punch down trees (ahem, sorry) and build a hut for your ‘first night’ (cough, sorry it’s not intentional. Or maybe it is. I don’t know!)

One of the first things you’ll notice after starting your adventure is that your world is populated by enemy slimes, a staple in classic RPGs. And boy, there’s a lot of them! There are some interesting things to say about the spawn rate for the game. And while some people might get annoyed at the massive amounts of slimes pestering them as they try to collect wood, I rather think it adds to the feel of urgency that is lacking in some other sandbox world games.

Enemies are a constant plight, and they only subside once you have a fair sized town built up, crafted by your own two hands (Or that of yourself and your friends! 8 Players are allowed to play together on a server!). Towns attract NPCs to sell wares and offer services. Just don’t talk to the Nurse without proper coinage on hand or else she’ll tell you what the limits of her ‘services’ are.

terraria screenshot - lots of enemies to make life difficult

Policing the Procedural

Worlds are randomly generated but always contain a little of everything. And while the worlds are not infinite, the size of them are large enough that they don’t need to be. You can even generate three different sized worlds depending on how lost you want to become. There are even some randomized events that help keep things interesting even when your town is sprawling and you’re just hanging out with your buddies and building a giant golden wang (old habits?)

Blood moons triple monster spawns for the night, and allows zombies to open doors after enough banging on them. Especially in the early stages of play, this can be an epic battle with many lost lives. The scene would be right at home with a classic zombie flick. A meteor might strike the earth and cause powerful creatures to hover around the crater until you can clear the debris. And even a boss monster can appear to attack you and your town.

Character Progression In Terraria

As you explore, you’ll find fallen stars at night, and Heart stones underground. collecting these will raise your max Mana and HP. These are the only permanent enhancements to your character. Otherwise you are defined by your equipment, your loot, your world and what you build for yourself and with your friends.

Crafting is very simplified; you need only to stand next to the proper crafting station and open your inventory while carrying the proper materials. There is a scrolling menu that displays your craftables based on your held items and what you’re standing next to. Weapons come in many flavors as well as does armor, and higher end armor provides set bonuses. Some items can only be found, and some are a combination of crafting a rare drop from an enemy.

Looks Aren’t Everything, But They Matter

Graphically, it’s charming. It appears like a late era NES game, but plays as solid as a renowned SNES great. The enemy sprites are simple, but effective. House furnishings can make a simple wood box house become a lavish castle. The character sprites appear to be lifted right out of Final Fantasy 6, and then heavily modified. There is a reason behind this and I’ll get into that in a bit. But overall, Terraria pulls off it’s sprite characters and tile-based world in an incredibly good way.

Terraria - Eye of Cthulhu

Speaking on how good the game looks. There are 2 features in the game that really make it stand out against the crowd. First of all is the lighting. Since you can’t have a good spelunking without deep dark caves. Without a torch or miner’s helmet or other light source, you’ll be walking blind. You can place torches as you go, but while having a torch equipped you’ll carry it in front of you lighting a good amount of tunnel around you. Close to the surface you’ll find a lot of hanging vines that obstruct light, which can both lead to hidden paths and treasures, and a magical showcase of the effects the lighting system.

Let’s Get Physical

The other great unmentioned feature is it’s water physics. While not perfect, pools of water behave very closely to how you’d expect them to! You can reroute finite water, drain ponds, and cause water to empty and flow. Digging upward into unseen territory can be just as dangerous as digging down directly below your feet. Drowning in water happens in a few seconds, but long enough to not being cheap.

Terraria - the watery depths

Killing monsters, defeating bosses, and discovering loot are all great experiences and have great rewards. But I must stress that one must do these things on their own. It is too easy to travel to a friend’s world and be given a set of some high end armor, weapons, and tools. Sure these toys are fun to play with for a while, but you really must restrain the temptation to boost your natural progress artificially. It will suck that rewarding feeling away when and end the enjoyment of the game early.

Are We There Yet?

There’s one last story that needs to be told. The game has a staggering amount of content for such what appears to be a tiny game on the outside. But it’s actually still in a very early Beta state. A test build to leaked to the interwebs and the developer was forced to do an emergency release to head off the damage pirated versions would potentially do.

The game contains several types of biomes, but there are several types of enemies missing from these environments. Deserts are practically empty. Floating Islands contain treasure, but not much else. And hell contains mass spawns of only 2 types of enemies, because something had to be put there to keep players from harvesting high level ore right from the get go. But even if this is still in beta in essence, there is more to do here then you might think and there has already been patches and content updates. So there is a lot more to look forward to!

So please, when you get decked out and are asked to join your friend who just got it after it was recommended to him by everyone, their mother and their dog, roll up a new character and generate a new world to discover and progress together.

Visit the Official Site for Terraria

Buy Terraria on Steam

[xrr rating=”5/5″]

2 thoughts on “Terraria Review: Simon Belmont in MineCraft Land

  1. Awesome review, been playing it a lot myself. A great pick up for only ten USD. I highly recommend it as well.

  2. I was intrigued by the trailer, and this review makes it seem even more tempting.

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