Minecraft but in 2D. This is how some have described Terarria.
Being honest it’s an accurate description, but for those that have never played Minecraft, let me describe Terarria for you.
You exist in a 2D open world, which is populated by many creatures some friendly and others threatening. Initially you need to customise the look of your character which is perhaps an attempt at game related satire, as with some of the parameters you are literally changing only 2-3 pixels due to the 8-bit art style. You initially enter the game with the ability to defend yourself with a simple copper sword and dig up land or cut down trees with a pickaxe and axe. Whilst a game of this genre has no narrative or specific mission for the player, the game does encourage you to go for certain milestones, through the application of PSN Trophies and Xbox achievements.
Whilst at first you’ll try to circumnavigate the surface, you’ll need to dig deep into the ground and climb high into the sky. The game might be in 2D, but it makes great use of the vertical axis. As you continue to dig, cut down trees and explore, you’ll collect more wood, copper, stone and other materials which can all be used to construct new weapons, potions and buildings.
Along your journey you’ll meet a selection of computer controlled character for whom you can build houses. Each has their own qualities and can assist or sell you different types of resources to help you with your journey.
Terarria’s day and night cycle requires your attention. At night brings with it many risks and ideally you should stay inside a safe house or do some fast landscaping to create a shelter.
The night brings with it zombies and other nasty creatures. Surviving the night becomes an achievement in itself which means that more often than not you will use the daytime to prepare for the night time.
The visuals are crisp, engaging and colourful (during daytime). With the limited number of pixels available for each character and creature it’s amazing how much variety there is. The developer’s have allowed their imagination to run wild with the all the creatures you will encounter. There is no common theme, they are strange, exotic and totally random in style, whilst referencing a wide range of other genres as a tip of the hat to seasoned gamers.
You can either setup a small or large world, and the large worlds are extremely large. If in a large world, it will take sometime to explore it all, especially if you include all the sky and all the underground areas in which you can bury yourself in continuous climbing and digging.
Terarria started as a PC title and on PC you can get away with more complexity and confusion, when it comes to the design of the controls. However, on a console the controls are restricted to the number of options on an Xbox or PS3 controller. In Terarria they work well making the game easy to play. Controlling your character is simple whilst moving through menus is simple and fast.
Playing Terarria is a relaxing and gentle experience, at least on the easier difficulty levels. On the higher levels of difficulty you can die and it will matter, where as on easier levels of difficulty you can just continue where you left off. The game though is quite forgiving, as there is no rushing in the game, and if you take your time, prepare well, take refuge in safe areas at night then you can travel through the world without too much harm coming your way. Of course the trick is not getting stranded in the wrong place at the wrong time. Certain areas of the world are hostile, whatever the time of day, and you shouldn’t enter them until properly equiped.
The art style really draws you in whilst the music is encharting. The game offers online play, (with full player versus player or without) local play resulting in a nice number of options to make your experience a social one. Overall Terarria is a delight to play and that’s coming from someone who could never get into Minecraft.
If there is a purpose to this type of game it’s to survive and explore whilst levelling up. Similar to life itself then (not that my life involves zombies or crazy rabbits at night. Honest)!