Terraria is an MMO in disguise

By Daavpuke, Posted 05 Apr 2013

Simply reworking a good idea isn’t always a bad or cheap thing to do, especially when this original thought spawned an unprecedented success. Therefore, it’s only logical for Terraria to adapt Minecraft’s blocky build system into its own 2D environment. However, comparisons with aforementioned indie hit stop at the crafting system, as Terraria feels more like an adventure, though a staggered and difficult one. Just because an idea is used as a jump off point, doesn’t mean what is painted across it will have the same shimmer. In this case, the content that makes this its own game also work against it most of the time.

As said, this free journey through the grasses, grottos and deserts of the world will be done from side to side, with minimalistic, pixelated detail and only sporadic added effects. Most prominently, lighting of different colors will provide additional life in this dark game with bright shine. As the player digs a way into the core of the earth, they’ll need to hold up a torch to illuminate the dark uncertainty around them and uncover the mysterious creatures within. This vacuum of blackness creates a sense of confinement, even harsher than just being walled in underground. Luckily, peppy background music will keep the spirits high and remind gamers that this is indeed an expedition and not a certain grave.

Still, exploring will be a necessary evil, which will not be the easiest of feats. Bats flock the caverns by day, while zombies rule the earth by night. Amidst this hell, resources such as precious minerals and ingredients need to be gathered, to create better equipment, craft better tools and ultimately sink even deeper into madness. Ultimately, all this daring will be aimed towards giant monsters, foes of such magnitude that they seem impossible to defeat without the right gear. Here lies Terraria’s biggest issue.

Terraria, Review

It’s not so much the difficulty that is bothersome; that in itself only spices up the adventure. Rather, it’s the way the game presents this challenge, by immense obstacles that spike threats with hurdles at a time. By providing locations with vastly more powerful foes, Terraria is effectively sectioned off into different regions, each in need to be tackled one by one. If another environment is too difficult, players will be forced to stay in more shallow waters and grind their way through, until they’ve updated their tools and can set forth into the new terrain. Once in the new location, be it a jungle or a creepy dungeon, this system resets and the chore starts anew. Instead of virtual freedom, this forces repetition into the game and makes this its main component, to much chagrin. Each time a new section arrives, the novelties of its world seem like a breath of fresh air, with new enemies, new treasures to loot, new structures to enter and so on. Unfortunately, excitement will grow stale after this same location needs to be handled for the umpteenth time.

This is in superlative terms present in the boss fights, which tower above any other challenge in the game. Taking on these mammoths, even with the strongest gear available at the time, is a near impossibility and one that demands a ton of patience to overcome alone. Terraria might fool gamers into showing a singleplayer experience, but fights like these are clearly created to take on with at least a party of fighters. In that sense and especially with online connectivity, Terraria is an MMO in disguise, which does not serve it well. It uses the worst traits from the mass experience and masks it as if it isn’t one. It’s actually rather insulting when seen this way. Luckily, connecting with other players, at least locally, is as easy as pressing a button on a second controller for the console version of the game. It doesn’t change the shoddy design, but it’s certainly more enjoyable to welcome a friend into the world.

Terraria, Review

Still, to denounce the game for its droning routine would be to look too harshly at its shortcomings and not its strengths. With a simple crafting system, heroes are able to come up with a mess of new items, both for their self-made residence as for outside use. Whether it’s a cosmetic vanity or a life-saving piece of armor, crafting is as simple as using the right appliance and getting the right ingredients in order to make it so. There’s a surprising large amount of things to forge as well and not from the same basic forms, as aforementioned Minecraft. Terraria is filled with variety and it reflects that well with a constantly growing library of items to create.

New areas provide new enemies, which yield new ingredients, which can be made into bigger and stronger things. This makes each hurdle of progress a form of revival when it comes to ambition. With bigger weapons, heroes can dig deeper, discover even more and renew the cycle once over. If resources would stay the same, the impact would be completely lost, but the game plays on this well and provides different locations where players can find different ingredients. There is more accomplishment in scoping items out than there is to simply dig at random.

Terraria, Review
Ok, this is still pretty cool to do.

There aren’t enough incentives in the world to shave down the vast hurdles in difficulty Terraria forcefully applies in its core design, with tenacious enemy swarms and near unfair bosses. Still, it's impossible to really call this a "bad" game. Finding new wonders each time helps to spike the élan to at least sufficient levels. It’s enough to soldier on and tackle yet another danger zone in this earthy, side-scrolling adventure filled with baubles to craft and regions to explore. It will just be a chore to keep doing so over and over again and it will be blocked off at each turn. Perseverance is the key.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

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General Information



Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Vita
Publisher(s): Re-Logic, 505 Games
Developer(s): Re-Logic
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Sandbox, Sidescroller
Release Date: 2013-03-26

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