Colourful 2D adventure/exploration/building game Terraria is already available on almost every system capable of displaying more than a handful of pixels, but developer Re-Logic have tried to ensure that there are no excuses for failing to pick up their Minecraft-like construction title. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a two-dimensional clone though, as the experience is far removed from that found in Mojang’s smash hit title once you dig (sorry) a little deeper into what’s really on offer. Pure Xbox previously reviewed the Xbox 360 release of this title, but there have been a host of new additions which make this release worthy of its own write-up.
Terraria makes a statement visually from the very start, with pixellated characters and a giant 2D world rendered in blocks, just waiting for you to dig your way through to new adventures. The music is catchy and well integrated, underscoring the feel of the game, but also indicating tunnel depth, imminent danger, or simply time of day with its retro sound. Our one complaint visually is that the characters are so tiny in relation to the world, that split screen co-op was almost impossible, with both parties squinting at the screen to work out what they were doing. It's best to stick to the online multiplayer or single player modes for a more satisfying experience.
You begin the game with a few basic tools and a guide, who will explain your surroundings to you. It isn't entirely clear what the overall goal is or if there even is one, so most likely, you'll wander off to dig a hole in search of precious metals or chop down a few trees and build a house to survive the zombie onslaught which takes place every night. Sounds familiar, right? Well, there's no denying that at this stage, it's basically a 2D Minecraft but after a few hours of play, the experience morphs into something which much more closely resembles an adventure or platform game from the 90s. Equipment can be upgraded and reforged in ridiculous combinations and there are an abundance of chests scattered throughout the world which hold magic items that grant further powers and abilities. Overnight, your character can go from a lonely adventurer stranded in the rain in an unknown land, to an all powerful warrior, flying around the map, destroying all that gets in their way by summoning the very stars from the sky!
Part of what makes the experience so compelling is that it is so open to interpretation. There is clear progression through a series of boss monsters, events, and the unlocking of new difficulties, but it's up to the player to decide whether or not they are interested in these things. One could quite happily load the game and spend their time building a glass house that looks like a T-Rex vomiting a rainbow and never fight a single boss or even reach the bottom of the map. It really is up to you. There have been a lot of additions to the game since the Xbox 360 version, including new biomes, monsters, temples and bosses, so whether you've never played before or you've sank hours into the last release, there will be something new and surprising to discover here.
Terraria seems to be a title that people either love or hate. A lack of clear instruction may put off gamers who prefer more linear gameplay and the under-geared will find the constant stream of monsters frustratingly difficult. But those who spend the time to discover its depths will find themselves losing days to its underground jungles, dungeons and temples. Whether you're into building giant masterpieces, defeating boss monsters for awesome loot, or exploring the depths of the map, Terraria offers up a variety of experiences and lets you pick and choose how to play based on your mood.