Terrorarium from Stitch Media
I had the chance to preview Terrorarium by Stitch Media, a puzzle game based around the idea of sacrificing little creatures known as Moogus. It’s still in Early Access, but there is a solid foundation for a good puzzle game in the making.
That Good Moogu
Moogus are small creatures you utilize to solve puzzles. You can throw them to break objects in your way. You can also give them simple follow and stay commands, which is useful when you encounter environmental hazards that can kill your Moogus. If you do find yourself with dead Moogus, you can use other Moogus to resurrect them or find Moogu corpses around the map to resurrect them.
The game is structured a lot like a mobile game, where levels are short and require light puzzle-solving and exploration. The goal of each stage is to have enough Moogus by the end to use a set amount to break a force field that leads to the next stage.
A simple premise, but don’t let that fool you: as the game progresses, it introduces different types of Moogus, which have properties like the ability to bounce off objects or set things on fire. This added level of complexity adds some challenge, but not so much that the game becomes frustrating.
Many levels will require that you sacrifice your Moogu, for example, to trigger exploding plants, while making sure you keep enough alive to break the force field at the end of each stage. This simple but easy-to-grasp puzzle solving makes Terrorarium very approachable.
Meticulous Moogu Management
For the most part, the game’s mechanics feel sound and polished to the point where they didn’t cause any problems for me, but some areas need some work.
I found my Moogus getting stuck on level geometry far too often. Which meant that I had to start stages all over again, since Moogus need to be meticulously managed.
Also, the game doesn’t require swinging the camera around a lot, but when I felt I needed to, level geometry would not disappear, which meant that geometry would always obstruct my view. It was hard to see what I was doing, which added some unwanted frustration.
Another neat aspect of the design philosophy of this puzzle game is the implementation of Steam Workshop, which allows us to create our own puzzle-filled levels and share them with other players.
It’s a great addition to a puzzle game and can potentially add an enormous amount of replay value when Terroarium adds more creations when the game officially launches.
What added to the game’s lighthearted tone was its musical score. Music is a properly upbeat, quirky soundtrack with lively tunes. Distorted drums and theremins add a science fiction vibe, while flutes and horns make for jaunty fun tunes.
It strikes a balance between chaotic and slow, so it melds perfectly with the game’s moderate pace. It’s nice to see when a game’s music compliments the game’s tone and mechanical feel.
Visuals look suitably cartoonish, with simple textures and assets. There is not a whole lot of detail to character models, few shadows, and simple textures.
I also felt like too many levels had an overall same-feeling color palette, but I think this overt simplicity melds well with the game’s simple base mechanics.
Overall, I had no issue with the game’s visuals, but others may view this game as not looking up to snuff when compared to other games in the genre.
Terrorarium is a puzzle game that’s shaping up well. It still could use some polish, but its foundation is sound enough to appeal to fans of the genre.
Terrorarium is available in Early Access via Steam.
Check out the Early Access trailer for Terrorarium below: