Review by Seagaia
"A fun, detailed and developing diversion"
Remember that this game is ten bucks. Terraria is a Windows-only compatible Steam game. It's the kind of game that you give a passing glance to, shrug it off as looking "meh" - then you watch a video, and you're intrigued a little. So what kind of game is this?
Well, first you'll notice that your game world is being generated automagically by some sort of algorithm! That's quite nifty, and you're soon deposited with nothing more than an axe and a pickaxe. Which leaves you a few choices - go on the wiki and find out what to do, or struggle yourself!
The game revolves around a few factors - the first being to explore the multiple biomes your world has, mine different kinds of minerals, kill enemies and bosses, and collect loot in the process in order to build up your stats with crafted items.
The second revolves around the creative aspect - building large monuments like towers or giant bridges, or other creative endeavors like digging a well straight to the underworld. These all work with the sort of interactive map editor your character is - you have the ability to destroy and collect the blocks that make up the map, and you also have the ability to stack these blocks however you like - that is, against the laws of physics - and build whatever you desire.
Let's touch on the first factor. Similar to Minecraft, the combinations of the starting items can feel a bit arbitrary, and a few other things too. This is only a minor complaint, of course. You find many items, more than you can hold, but this is well alleviated by the ability to craft chests for storage. The RPG elements in this game are not enough to distract you - you only have magic and health that you can slowly build up as you explore, but they cap at reasonable limits. Your strength other wise depends on your skill, luck, and items. There are some strategies to taking down enemies, but sometimes you just have to get lucky with where they spawn, or get lucky in finding a certain strong weapon in a box, or be fortunate enough to have mined enough materials to forge a strong enough weapon to defeat the enemies in a reasonable time.
There are bosses in this game - they are not very hard, but your mileage may vary - if you'd like to make them harder, you sure can! Just wear weak armor and use a weaker weapon.
What's a nice thing are the special items one can find in chests that are hidden all over the world. They often contain special weapons, or sometimes artifacts, which you are allowed to wear five of. They grant the user special abilities - e.g., higher jumping, faster running, no fall damage - and play an interesting role in multiplayer, and user mods (more on that later.) The multiplayer RPG aspects allow one person to host a server and have people come and visit, in order to explore, fight bosses, build, or do PvP - the PvP is in its early stages, but the artifacts allow different play styles. Multiplayer does come with its share of problems (namely griefers, people who cause havoc on purpose, through destroying meticulously-built structures, putting lava under the world spawn point, etc.), but otherwise is an excellent part of the game.
So that covers the RPG-elements of Terraria.
Now the second factor - you can get other NPCs to move in with you, who sell certain items/play uses (e.g., a healer, an arms dealer who sells guns, etc), and to do so you need to build houses, which have strict requirements to be considered a house by the game - which is one source of confusion - hence the wiki. By nature, the formulas for items have to be a little counterintuitive (unless you want to spend hours just fiddling around to figure out what makes what, although this difficulty is in some senses alleviated because Terraria shows you all possible items you can make). This is a shortcoming of most "crafting" games, but is well managed because of the presence of a comprehensive wiki on Terraria - the possible frustrations of crafting are circumvented. You can make clothes for your character, craft armor with different stats, etc.
Building things turns out to be a lot of fun. The Terraria community is very active in building ridiculously large and amazing structures in the game - be it through map editors, or in multiplayer teams working for hours. In this sense, one could join the community, comment on others structures, join teams to build structures, or create something on their own. People have already designed great castles, or clever traps involving some of the mechanics of the different blocks in the game.
There are map editors for this game, and this of course introduces the issue of what constitutes a legitimate game. In any case, map editors are a wonderful tool, as they have allowed the community to make (somewhat limited) mods. These mods often play out as either difficult stage-based platformers, where you progress along in challenges, being asked (I say asked - there's no system that forces you from bringing in your overpowered character to beat a platforming stage that was intended for a character that should have no items) to use certain artifacts in order to progress. You can also choose to edit your world as you desire - want to play on a mountainous stage? You got it. Want to turn your world into a giant island? You can do that. You can also build structures through the map editor, which, depending on the person, can be just as satisfying as spending hours on it in game. You can even just use the map editor as a map of sorts, to figure out where you want to go next in your world (worlds can, by default, be small, medium, or large. And small is quite huge, so large is...gigantic. People have even made mods to edit more aspects of world generation, such as how many of a certain biome appear, etc.)
In any case, one of the best parts is that this is PC based, so that means the ease of patches and updates is fairly frequent, with the active development team. At the moment, there are weekly updates, which add new items, fix bugs, new biomes, new monsters, etc., expanding the content. There's a lot of potential in Terraria for customization through user scripts or patches, textures, etc., and while the legality behind all such things has not been completely dealt with, the future for Terraria looks bright - it's still in a fledgling stage, you could say. It's a great, ten dollar stand alone game, but will surely grow into something even better. There is a very large amount of replay value in this game, and it's the kind of game you can pick up for any amount of time, since everything is saved whenever you quit the game - so it's perfect for hardcore and casual users alike!
So join the community, and pick yourself up a copy through Steam.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 06/14/11
Game Release: Terraria (US, 05/16/11)
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