I would not call myself a creative person, especially when it comes to building things. When I was young, I finished Lego, by which I mean that I did all the examples on the box and was done with the whole set. It never occurred to me to make a creation of my own. When my parents suggested that I do so, I just looked at them confused and asked, “Like what?” By the same token, when my friends told me about Minecraft, which is basically virtual Lego, I couldn’t see the point.
It therefore comes as a surprise to me that I’d end up enjoying Terraria so much, a game that, at first glance, seems like a two-dimensional version of Minecraft. As in Mojang’s gaming blockbuster (pun intended), the game has you gathering resources by mining and chopping trees to then make houses, furniture, weapons and armor. To obtain better material, you have to dig deep and risk deadly lava if you’re not careful. Such are the costs of pimping out your mansion, crafting better tools, and dabbling in alchemy. As your home starts to grow, non-player characters suddenly show up to squat and provide you with a variety of services.
What differentiates Terraria from other building titles is the addition of in-game objectives, something I truly enjoy. You see, the land on which you’ve set up camp is also populated with monsters bent on destroying your abode. Most offer little challenge, owing to their limited AI, but, as you progress through the game, your actions eventually spawn the Eye of Cthulhu, which can prove quite a threat if your gear isn’t up to snuff. Further world exploration can reveal other, equally challenging boss monsters until you reach hell and defeat the Wall of Flesh.
At this point, your whole world changes. Two giant strips of land appear, engendering both corrupted and hallowed grounds. These areas spread, threatening to swallow up your hard-built residence and surrounding it with very nasty critters that can give you a run for your money despite their low intelligence. On the up side, new material is also made available, allowing you to further upgrade your gear and above.
Terraria makes for a fun single-player experience, but its multiplayer aspect is what hooked me. In this mode, the game provides enough of a challenge for a few players to break a sweat, but it remains simple enough that you don’t feel bad messing with your friends by chucking bombs at their houses, collapsing the floor so they plummet to their doom, or locking them up in a cave with a few dozen skeletons. Because the penalty for dying in the game is relatively small, pranks like these (and the eventual payback) prove harmless and liven up the gameplay quite a bit.
I don’t really know what else to say (or rather write). Terraria is a simple, straightforward title that blends to amusing effect the building mechanics of Minecraft with the action platforming elements of Metroid. It doesn’t drown you in non-stop action, assault you with state-of-the-art graphics, or immerse you in deep puzzle solving, but you can play it for hours at a time, or for fifteen minutes now and then, and always have a blast. At a price tag of only ten dollars on Steam, the game will definitely give you your money’s worth.