Monday, 5 December 2011
Terraria Mini-Review and Giveaway
Released: May 16 2011
This won't be a full review, as I didn't play the game long enough to consider everything. Instead, it'll just be some thoughts on how I felt about the game, mostly in comparison to Minecraft, since the two are conceptually similar in a lot of ways.
Terraria is a 2D adventure-RPG focused on exploring and mining -- much like Minecraft, minus one D. There's a TON of content -- many mineral types, monsters, and environments, as well as gear and craftable items and objects. Unlike the games from which it draws inspiration, Terraria features a city-building component, where by building housing and completing certain goals, you can recruit NPCs to provide services.
In terms of the exploration, Terraria is amazing. There's a huge amount of (literal) depth: you can dig down for a long, long time, with different minerals and enemies found at different depths. Of course, the farther down you go, the more valuable the minerals and chest loot, but the tougher the monsters and the environment. Going down far enough, you begin to encounter pools of lava, and eventually demons and dangerous corrupt areas. As a geology nerd, I'm a big fan of the variety of minerals available. There are various basic block types, plus several metals and gemstones. I do find it a bit weird, though, that gold is a stronger material for tools and armour than iron or silver.
The crafting system is also very extensive. There are branching trees of craftables. Starting with a workbench, you can create an anvil (for metalworking), furnace (for smelting), and sawmill to provide more options. The sawmill enables advanced crafting, allowing you to create a loom (for creating and working fabrics), a brewery (for ale), and other options. The number of available options seems overwhelming, but fortunately, as long as you have the required components in your inventory, you have the crafting recipe. It means the crafting system is perfectly accessible without the wiki, providing you with more recipes as you gather more materials.
There are plenty of bosses in the game. They're surprisingly big and scary. Defeating bosses adds new bits into the world, and one in particular essentially turns on hard mode.
One fairly major problem I had: building houses. In viable housing, you and any NPCs are safe from monsters, who can't get into your house except under special circumstances (blood moon and goblin raid, but they happen very rarely). The guide NPC told me the requirements to build a house: walls, a door, a table and chair, a light source. Okay, sounds easy. In crafting, I have the option to create blocks called walls. That sounds like exactly what I need! Place the walls in a rectangle around me, and... the monsters walk right through them and attack me. What?
It turns out that the items called "walls" are placed in the background. You must create a solid rectangle of "wall" that is completely enclosed by standard blocks. For example, to build a wooden house, place blocks of wood in the shape you want, and fill in the background with wooden walls. The game doesn't tell you this anywhere, I needed to check the wiki.
Another complaint I have is that the surface of the world is really boring. There's not much going on up there. There's plenty of action beneath the surface -- the underground area is mind-bogglingly massive -- but it seems like you'll only ever need to be on the surface when establishing a foothold, and if you want to collect fallen stars to upgrade your magic. Below a certain depth you can actually build housing underground, so it's entirely plausible that you'll never need to go up to the surface again.
How is Terraria compared to Minecraft? Terraria has far more content already. I assume that's because production of 2D content is easier than 3D, and furthermore requires less disk space, so the devs can do bigger updates more frequently. On the other hand, the 2D world limits construction: you can fill your houses to bursting with NPCs and objects and crafting areas, but you're limited in what you can depict. Underground exploration is far more interesting in Terraria, since there are so many more enemies and resources to find. But Minecraft's surface world is superior to Terraria's, with a varied landscape that can inspire and accommodate your construction.
So, in summary, Terraria is a great game with a lot going on, but I personally prefer Minecraft, simply due to the greater freedom a 3D world gives you. Terraria, however, is more fun to explore, and of course it'll run a lot better on low-end computers. It's also only $10 on Steam, which is a fair bit cheaper than Minecraft. Terraria is totally worth a shot if you're into exploration and adventure.
And now we come to the giveaway portion of the post!
I've got a copy of -- what else -- Terraria to give away on Steam. It'll be a random draw among all entrants. You'll need to post a comment on this article to enter -- if you haven't commented, you haven't entered -- and you can get a second entry by liking Post-Launch Reviews on Facebook, which is a good way to keep up with new posts all in one place! If your commenter and Facebook names are different, make sure to let me know who you are on Facebook, to confirm your second entry.
Entry is closed at midnight on Friday December 9th, and I'll announce the winner on Saturday, December 10th. Make sure to check back then to see if you've won! The winner will need to provide me with their Steam profile page, so I can add you and send you your copy of Terraria.
Good luck, and thanks for reading!