It's always been difficult to give a one-sentence synopsis for Terraria. When it was released on PC in 2011, the first description that many gave was that it's "like a two-dimensional Minecraft," but that doesn't really do Terraria justice. More experience with it brings about the description that it is a "sandbox-style Metroidvania," and while that description is apt, it still doesn't hit exactly why Terraria is so fantastic.
Boiled down to its essence, Terraria is about discovery. Throughout the game, that discovery comes in many forms: exploration brings about the discovery of new environments, resource collection brings about the discovery of new craftable items, and progression through the game brings about the discovery of not only new enemies to fight, but also entirely new game mechanics to consider.
With Terraria's recent release on consoles, there is even more to discover than before. However, some things are better left undiscovered.
Terraria(PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade [reviewed]) Developer: Re-Logic Publisher: 505 Games Released: March 26, 2013 (PS3), March 27, 2013 (360) MSRP: $14.99
Terraria is set in a two-dimensional open world. On the PC version, players are dropped into a procedurally generated world with little direction other than an NPC and night closing fast. Without a handy guide, many would be lost. One of the additions to the console version is a tutorial, which was sorely needed to mitigate the aimlessness of the early game. The tutorial sufficiently gives the player short term goals and teaches the mechanics of the world without giving away too much about where the adventure is going.
After the spawn point is secured with a lightly defensible living space, the real meat of the game begins. Traveling along the surface in either direction reveals new biomes, each with their own flora and fauna. More important is downward travel, into the network of caves waiting to be explored. Many of the useful resources can be found there, including ores that can be used to craft better tools, weapons, and armor, which can then be used to dig and fight more effectively.
One of the core elements of Terraria that sets it apart from being a 2D Minecraft is that as you explore, find new things, and gain power, the world itself reacts. While there isn't exactly a written narrative, there is a definite progression of events, and it makes the world feel more alive.
In addition to the progression of events, there are also triggers that affect gameplay on a fundamental level. The early game is largely about resource collection and survival. Digging into the dirt focuses more on exploration and combat. Even further down and it almost becomes a puzzle game as the player attempts to mine ore while avoiding lava flows. And that's not even to mention what happens when you instead decide to explore up.
Simply put, Terraria is enormous, not only in size, but also in scope. Just when you think you have seen everything there is to see in the world, you find something new. Just when you start to get comfortable, a new element shows up to contend with. Even though it happens continually, it is somehow surprising every time.
Terraria is delightful, but it has been for almost two years now, and many already know it. The question this review aims to answer is whether it remains so from its port to consoles or if it suffers in any area.
One of the biggest worries that Terraria fans had regarding the console port was how to best transition from the quick, accurate control afforded by the use of a mouse to the less precise dual stick setup. To emulate the control of the PC version, the console versions have two separate control schemes. Auto is quick but imprecise, allowing the use of the right stick to point in a general direction of action. Manual is precise but slow, allowing the player to choose exactly which square to target. While it sounds less than ideal, switching between the two modes is a matter of clicking the right stick in, and with a little practice it works fine. Certain things, like digging a three-block-high horizontal tunnel, are even easier on console than they were on PC.
The other worry with the switch from a keyboard was that items and tools would not be as easily accessible. As with the original version, there are ten slots in the backpack for equipment to be used, but for the console version, switching between these pieces of equipment requires cycling through each with the shoulder buttons. There is functionality to map up to four items to the cardinal directions on the D-pad, but it strangely must be re-mapped every time you start playing.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect stemming from the transition to consoles was the addition of more accessible multiplayer. While online multiplayer exists for the PC version, it is not easy do without the use of third party software. Joining a game on the Xbox 360 is as easy as one would expect, but it's afterwards that the problems show up.
When hosting, the game runs well enough, but when joining somebody else's game, the lag can be debilitating. While lag doesn't matter much during the slower portions, it can be infuriatingly unplayable during tense combat sequences. Worse yet, if you travel quickly enough in a friend's world, the terrain will not load in time, causing you to fall all the way to the bottom of the map with nothing to stop you.
One of the welcome additions is a map screen, which shows the areas you have been to and makes hunting for rare ore easier. When joining a world online, you can uncover the map in the same way that you would in your own world, but its progress is not saved as it would be for your own, so rejoining the same world in the future starts you at the beginning with respect to the map. Considering it's still more than having no map at all, it's difficult to get too upset about it, but it would have been nice if it were saved.
In addition to online play, the port also allows up to four-player split screen multiplayer, but it has its own problems too. Even with only two players, Terraria suffers from significant drops in framerate at times. Aside from that, the interface works surprisingly well using only a fraction of the screen real estate, but due to the slowdown, local multiplayer can still be a pain for combat or tricky platforming sections.
Some new music tracks have been added, though most of the background music remains unchanged from the PC version. The soundtrack is full of catchy tunes that function to let the player know where he is in the world. It isn't the most amazing collection of music, but each track is fitting for its environment.
The last notable pieces of new content are pets to collect and an additional boss to fight. While neither is a substantial addition, each adds to the already lengthy list of cool things to discover in the world of Terraria.
Terraria is an incredible experience, and no game has filled me with the same sense of wonder and drive to explore in a very long time. In this port to consoles, those feelings are preserved, but perhaps not as elegantly as they could have been. The control scheme turned out better than expected, but the multiplayer functionality is far from ideal. Still, I cannot recommend this enough to anybody with a heart for exploring the unknown and an inherent passion for discovery.
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.
Nathan D I love when someone at work tries to claim you screwed up on something and it completely backfires on them. I try to help them save face afterwards, but secretly I'm like...
CoilWhine I still love Tearaway Unfolded despite the shit pacing and hell yeah I'm going for that plat. It'll be my 2nd plat, first since Sly 2 Remastered back in 2012. So it's been a while. gotta beat the game first tho :PCoilWhine Tearaway Unfolded's final level is my least favorite kind. Life is Strange-esque linear path (through a void) of moments from the game. Bleh.Shinta Gravity Rush Remastered looks reallllllyyyyyy nice. Video and screenshots didn't quite do it justice. Seeing it in person is much better.Virtua Kazama We are T-7 days until the release of Street Fighter V! There will be a blog released on the February 15, only one day before the release. This blog is about reflecting on Street Fighter IV.Terry 309 Can good videogame music sugarcoat a game so much that we forget it's a bad game?lewness My Wii U came back from repairs...
It does not recognize me anymore. It does not remember anything - Xenoblade, Smash, everything. Also, the game disc that was trapped when I sent it is in a separate sleeve, cracked.
RIP data.Pixie The Fairy Separated at birth? [img]https://38.media.tumblr.com/dc4c946f418196e87160398f851c19fb/tumblr_nuwhksbSVu1sjh5bfo1_400.gif[/img]Solar Pony Django I got my RNDM Viynl by Mega Ran last night but forgot to post a picture. Enjoying it so far though.Mike Wallace Damn, my 26" monitor just crapped out on me. S'what I get for buying knockoff brands I guess. Back to the 19" non-HD monitor for me. Jinx 01 I miss mapping :( I was thinking about learning GameMaker, but now I'm leaning toward Unreal Engine 4, maybe to map for the new UT? ikiryou I've spent the past 3 hours with that Lost Planet spinoff EX Troopers after finding it on sale for $20US on Amazon. It would've been great if Capcom had released it here. Or if they decided 2 turn that IP into Monster Hunter w/ guns set in an open worldAmna Umen Anyone notice that the Qposts are posting in the Normal Blog list? Niero? Bueller?SpielerDad Rubio supporters rough up robot at New Hampshire rally. Mr. Destructoid's long lost cousin?Fuzunga For a nice mailbox surprise today! Forgot I ordered this a while back. Shinta Bosman and Huber running a Nintendo channel show, and playing games with Treehouse during E3? I'd be down for that.EdgyDude I just found out Phoenix Wright is getting an anime this year. Color me surprised and very interested.Operative20 I really want to continue my RE playthrough but this FUCKIN JAVA PROGRAM JUST WON'T WORK WHY AM I SUCH A FAILURESayWord Life is Strange Spoilers: I am about to start Episode 5 but noticed Uzumaki inspiration right away. Beginning scene with the town and lighthouse, tons of Spirals including the projections in the "End of the World Party". Anyone else notice this?JPF720 Is it just me or with only one month and a week 2016 has been hit with some considerable losses, but in terms of severity and scope? From musicians and athletes to freaking websites...Let's keep riding this storm of sadness guys.