It feels wonderful to finally say that Terraria, a game where players can just as easily be attacked by giant flying eyeballs as they can build a house out of gold, is available on consoles. Though taking some inspirational cues from Minecraft with its emphasis on resource collecting and item crafting, Terraria truly is a unique experience unto itself. For two years the game has been entertaining hordes of PC players and now it has finally found a home on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Obviously some adjustments have been made from mouse and keyboard to controller but is the magic still there?
Digging through layer upon layer of earth is fun, that is until night falls. When the sun goes down, deadlier enemies start roaming the world like zombies and flying demon eyes. It doesn’t take long to realize that a simple wooden sword does little to fend off creatures and that better tools must be constructed to survive. That first long night in Terraria is perhaps one of the most tedious moments in the game. Digging underground is the only way to explore but the player might not have enough materials to effectively traverse the depths and will instead have to stand around waiting for sunrise. Within a few in-game days, however, Terraria shows its unfathomable depth. Underground caves, jungles, lava-filled pits, snow-covered hills and sections infested with poisonous corruption can all be found in Terraria. The thirst for not only finding materials to make the best equipment but to see everything becomes the driving force behind the game.
The sheer amount of crafting recipes are only limited by the materials the player has found. Armor sets and magic expand the repertoire of stuff the player can experiment with. Building different houses will also help attract NPCs who will sell useful items and expand the player’s home base. All of these things go towards fighting some moderately tough bosses. It takes a good deal of crafting, preparation and, most importantly, experimenting to reach a boss fight. Thankfully, players can join an online game to get help in battles or even get rarer materials.
Since Terraria focuses so much on crafting it makes sense that there’s a plethora of items to use. The massive player inventory can hold a great deal and comes in handy when going on large digs. It’s also where things like healing potions and weapons are stored and can be accessed mid-fight. The problem is that the game doesn’t pause when the inventory screen is open and can be problematic when trying to quickly browse. Four items can be bound to the directional arrows which eases some of the frustrations.
In the end, though, it’s pretty obvious the game is structured around a mouse. Precisely placing blocks and navigating menus would be easier with the accuracy of a mouse and would likely also save a life. Still, the restructured control scheme isn’t bad. Clicking the right control stick enables a mode where individual blocks can be selected to mine instead of a general target direction. Honestly, the control scheme gets the job done and it only becomes a frustration when trying to learn the ropes of inventory management on the fly.
Graphics and Sound
Sporting the 16-bit visuals of a classic Super Nintendo game, Terraria has a retro charm that is completely unique. It’s as if the player is unearthing the game worlds of yesteryear rather than a randomly generated world produced on current gen consoles. Those visuals also give impact to each individual pixelated block. Similar to Minecraft, the entire universe of Terraria feels like it is made up of those tiny individual blocks that could ultimately be harvested for materials. Credit should also be given to the impressive lighting system that is present when littering expansive caves with tiny torches. It may look simplistic but it is anything but.
Dialogue is absent from Terraria but some delicately cheerful music isn’t. Bordering on chip tune pop, the overworld and main menu themes are infectiously catchy. Stumbling upon a corrupted area or deadly underground zone will dramatically change the music to something nuanced and creepy – it’s obvious danger is there and should be avoided. Other than the chipping at blocks or creature noises, there’s little else to be heard.
Terraria is a big experience, but only for those willing to spend the time exploring and discovering. Newcomers and veterans of the game will find some new editions to the console version but nothing that dramatically alters the core gameplay. It’s hard to imagine a player diving into Terraria for a few moments and then walking away from it with no interest in continuing. Gamers are rarely presented with these kind of options and Terraria only gets better the deeper it goes.