Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Genre: Crafting Sandbox/Adventure
Developer: Re-Logic
Publisher: Re-Logic via Steam
Released: 2011

Zolgar paid: $7.49
Beaten: There is no 'beating' Terraria
Zolgar's rating: 6/10
Replayability: I'm going to classify Terraria's replayability as an MMO, despite it not being one.

If you buy Terraria right now, you will most likely have fun with it, but find that it feels remarkably unfinished.. truth is, it IS unfinished you're paying $10 for the alpha release. As of writing this review, Terraria has only been in development for a little over 6 months.

Why, you ask, why did they release it so soon? Well, I'm not sure as to why, I've heard a rumor, but I also have a theory, if the rumor isn't true. The rumor is that the alpha was leaked, and rather than have a highly unfinished, buggy, feature-less pirate running rampant online ruining their reputation they decided to release the game.

My theory though, is that due to it's similarities to Minecraft, and the massive popularity Minecraft has built up, they decided to release their game while Minecraft is still 'in'. Also, there are plenty of games which have had people pay for the 'beta version', Minecraft included. If you think about it, for an indy developer it makes a lot of sense to sell the game early and release updates, because usually they're trying to develop the game either in hopes of making money, or in their spare time.

And unlike some games, Terraria isn't making you buy the game multiple times. $10 seems to get you the full game. Though that isn't to say there won't be DLCs later.

If you search around at all, you will see a lot of "2D Minecraft", while I've not played Minecraft myself, I can say that this assessment is .. somewhat accurate, but after actually playing Minecraft, I can say that this statement is rather inaccurate, it would be akin to saying:
"Diablo is a real-time Baldur's Gate" sure they have similarities, but they also have a lot of differences. It would be more accurate to say that Terraria is a 2D sidescroller hybridization of Zelda and Minecraft.

In short, you gather resources, most of them are gathered by digging in to the Earth, though some are harvested topside, and others are gathered from defeating enemies. With said resources, you build a house, craft items for your house, craft arms and armor, and improve your house.

Then you improve your gear, dig deeper to find better stuff.. and .. you get the idea. There's no plot, there's no quests, there's no 'end'. There's greater challenges, such as a dungeon and the Underworld, but that's it. Your whole 'goal' is to get better, so you can get better. That will keep some players entertained for quite some time, in and of itself, due to the size of the world the game spawns, and the fact the world is completely random.

The other draw is the building. The world is a fully destructible environment, that you can modify however you see fit, as long as you have the resources. You can create a vast underground fortress, a lake-side mansion, a solid-gold castle in the air, or just a simple log cabin.. in the middle of the ocean.

Between the exploration and the building, it's the type of game that is heavily fueled by the player's own goals and the sense of 'ooh, what's over there!', as opposed to built-in goals.

The game does have some downsides though:
There's no form of mini-map, no way to know where the hell you are in relationship to everything else. This can get really annoying, especially when you're trying to either dig your way back to the surface, because you stumbled across an underground lake which flooded your previous tunnel.

Most of your weapons are 'semi-auto' which means you have to click every time you want to attack. I've found that this leads to for most things, the pickaxe being a better weapon (as it's 'full-auto').

There's no means to craft things quickly, if you have 1000 sand on you, which you want to turn in to glass to make glass bottles, you'll be sitting there for a very long time clicking your mouse button over and over and over again.
I stand corrected on this point, as it was pointed out to me that holding down the Right mouse button acts as 'auto craft'. Very useful piece of information I missed somewhere.

If this were an MMO, I would say it's not 'casual player' friendly. As it's not an MMO, you really don't have anyone to compete or keep up with, but it's still very demanding and requires a lot of time to really get anywhere.

The size of the world vs. Travel speed makes it somewhat unforgiving, and very unfriendly towards distance exploring. It wouldn't be so bad if there were the option to build another house and teleport between them.
  • An edit to this note. While I still feel it's valid, it was pointed out to me one thing I neglected to mention here. Terraria allows you to create 3 sizes of worlds (small, medium and, large). Especially early game though, even small worlds are not friendly to distance exploration. Once you have a few key items distance exploration is nothing in a small world, and only a minor irritation in large.

There's no readily available 'delete item' function.
Apparently the developer listened, and there as been a trashcan slot added to the inventory. Not as convenient as just hitting 'delete' on each item, but better than nothing.

The 'Guide' NPC doesn't provide some of the most needed information for newbies. PCGamer has a very good Beginner's Guide though, and there's the Wiki.

Despite being released this year, it looks like it's like 15 years old. I think this is probably a style choice, but I think they could have gone with slightly nicer 2D sprites, personally. (Still looks better than Minecraft though)

While that seems like a long list of detractors to the game, they are all fairly minor, and just conveniences we have grown accustomed to with our new-fangled games that practically play themselves, and Terraria is still being developed, so it's quite likely that plans will be made to improve some of these as time goes on.

If you like Minecraft and/or oldschool Zelda, odds are very good you will get more than your $10 worth of entertainment out of Terraria.

"ZOMG! It's like a 2D Minecraft! Let's buy it!"

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