Terraria review (XBLA)
Terraria was originally developed by Re-Logic; 505 Games developed and published the Xbox 360 port. It was released March 27, 2013 for 1200 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
At its heart, Terraria is a 2D side scrolling platform game which features a range of RPG, mining, crafting and world building mechanics. With such a unique mixture of gameplay styles and influences, one could be forgiven for thinking that Terraria should lack depth or substance. The reality is quite contrary however, and Terraria may actually be one of the deepest and most engaging titles within the Xbox Live Arcade catalog.
Terraria presents the player with such a huge range of activities to participate in, at such a variable pace, that it really is the ultimate sandbox game. Unlike Minecraft or Spelunky which respectively allow players to wander aimlessly in relative safety or punish them brutally along an increasingly difficult path, Terraria presents both options as slowly or as quickly as you can manage.
Here’s what we liked:
Depth and longevity – In spite of a diminutive file size of just 34 megabytes, Terraria provides an incredible volume of content, most of which is hidden deep beneath the appealing 16-bit era graphics and cutesy platform fun. One of the most wonderful things about Terraria is how new players start out incredibly vulnerable, with just the most basic tools and a simple mandate to survive the night. By the end of the game however, that same player will be flying through the sky in magical armor, fending off enemies with lasers and lightsabers at will. On his or her journey from one of these extremes to the other, each player will experience a different tale featuring personal missions, huge boss encounters, dungeons riddled with traps and a world so huge it is almost impossible to comprehend even after you’ve created a second or third world to play through. Terraria is every bit the 2D adventure equivalent of epic evolutionary games like Civilization, but played through a looking glass which points directly at a single protagonist.
Great fun – Above all else, Terraria reminds us that games are a form of entertainment. From the cute graphics, to the variable difficulty level, Terraria allows each and every player to make the most of the game as they see fit. If you’re an experienced dungeon-crawler, then you can dig yourself a tunnel right down to hell at the get-go in the hopes of finding treasure and rare items. Less experienced players can take it more slowly, perhaps by exploring some of the existing surface tunnels where random pots and chests contain lesser, but nonetheless interesting treasures. However you choose to spend your time, you can be assured that the tight, crisp controls and steady drip of new weapons, armor and special items (whether obtained through exploration or crafting) will keep things fresh and fun for an unusually long time.
A game for everyone – Because of the superb pacing and the provision of a safe, ground level spawn point, Terraria does a great job of ensuring that danger is only forced upon the player very occasionally. The enemies which inhabit the world become increasingly more dangerous as players move away from the spawn point, ensuring that for those who just want to build in relative peace and tranquility, only the occasional blood moon or goblin invasion will bother them – and those only if the player has ventured deep enough underground to find enough health crystals to increase their max HP to over 200. These same mechanics work equally well for those who want a stiff and occasionally unexpected challenge – Terraria features a range of tough and inventive boss encounters and defeating the Goblin Army can be considered quite the highlight for some.
Strong multiplayer – Terraria features both online and offline multiplayer, each of which are tremendous fun. The online mechanic feels a lot like it draws from Diablo, because unlike in the XBLA version of Minecraft, characters used in offline and online worlds can migrate with all of the items and money in their inventory. This works well because a friend may be struggling to find specific items or materials within their own world, whilst that same resource may be abundant in yours. Because of the use of consistent characters, friends can also assist newer players with tough boss encounters, dungeons or caverns. Offline mode allows up to four players to participate locally using split screens on an HD television. It’s a nice addition and we’re pleased to report that it works well, with little or no additional frame rate drop over the full screen modes, or at least none that we noticed.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Very little – Terraria is such a complete and polished game that it’s very hard to find fault with it at all. Several members of staff noticed that the game stutters for perhaps the first 2-3 minutes of loading any given world, but it’s a temporary problem which does not recur after those opening few moments. Another, similar problem can occasionally blight online play and affects only ‘guest’ players within the world. Should a player descend quickly into a dungeon or cavern, then occasionally the world will fail to load around them, resulting in that player being stuck in the scenery (once it loads) or even falling for eternity.
In summary, Terraria must be considered one of the best value and most enjoyable XBLA titles available today. The graphics are cute and fun, the soundtrack catchy, contextual and never invasive, whilst the gameplay features a perfect mixture of sandbox and scripted direction. Where Minecraft is relaxing and infinitely creative, Terraria is evolutionary and adventurous, allowing players to not only create fantastic structures, but also to fill them with weird and wonderful, yet ever useful contraptions and items. If you enjoy Minecraft, Diablo, Spelunky, Metroid-esque platform adventure games or just outright good titles, then without a doubt Terraria should be on your XBLA shopping list this Easter.
Score: Buy It