Terraria - A sort of review

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Terraria - A sort of review

Postby SirMustapha » Sun Dec 28, 2014 3:33 pm

For a long time I didn't know what it was like to be "addicted" to a game. Yeah, for a couple of months now, I've been gaming much more than ever (one of the few benefits of being a loner without friends), I've made my way through Borderlands 2 and both instalments of Dead Island, and got quite hooked to them. But Terraria is something else. For those who are not in the know, it is a 2D action-adventure world-building platformer. I know, once you read the term "world-building", you immediately thought of Minecraft. But me, I don't even play Minecraft. My two nieces and my nephew love that game (in its mobile version, that is), and they do all sorts of wonders in it that I certainly couldn't do even if I was paid to do it. I never got too interested in it, though, mostly because of 1. not exactly cheap (thirty dollars? ehhnn...) and 2. honestly, I find it uglier than hell-on-a-stick. I do understand that there's a big crowd for its retro-chic and brick-sized pixels, and I mean no disrespect, but I find it a bit too much for me. I've tried it on "creative mode" for a few minutes, but I failed to really fall for the world. At no time did I get the vibe of "hey, you're building a world!" (and consider how much that idea appeals to me considering one of my albums is titled "Of How a World Is Built"), but what I got was "hey, you're playing a video game!". I got no real immersion from it. It's not merely artificial: it relishes in its own artificiality.

And I think this is where Terraria kicks in. First off, the graphics, although also pixellated and strictly block-based, have a much higher resolution, and they're far more colourful and finely crafted. It is actually beautiful to look at. In spite of being 2D, the world charms you in. It really feels like a brand new world you're temporarily inhabiting and transforming. First time off, I played on the biggest sized map, but I didn't feel overwhelmed by its hugeness (another reason Minecraft loses me): I felt like I could tackle that world, digging, chopping trees and building my first shelters -- one for me and one for the first NPC, a guide that gives you hints and shows you what you can craft with each material. The mechanics are similar to that of Minecraft: during the day, you're free to explore and build freely, with only a few slimes to bug you -- but they are easy to kill and give you gel, with which you can make torches. At night, you face more dangerous monsters, and therefore you need shelter until you can make better weapons. And then, you dig, explore underground, gather ores to get metals, improve your equipment, build more houses, attract more NPCs and start finding/crafting/buying equipment that gives you very useful abilities like flying, grabbing onto walls, grappling onto surfaces and so on. All the while, though, the world is also tainted by the evil presence of the Corruption, or the Crimson, which are very similar: they spawn strong monsters and slowly spread to nearby surfaces. In order to stop it, you have to fight really powerful bosses, and find specific equipment in order to break the corrupted blocks. There's a wide diversity of monsters and materials, and an absurd quantity of things to craft. I have barely gotten started with it. I found today that you can construct gadgets with wires and levers and buttons and moving platforms, and I have no idea how to do that yet. So far, I have defeated my first boss, and I am improving my stuff to face the second one, which will take a long time.

This game reminded me of what it is to get stuck to the PC, knowing you have to stop, but going just a little further to find some more iron ore, or maybe some invaluable platinum, or see what's up with that newly discovered cavern, or see what I can do with these materials I gathered, or what that new NPC has to offer. I get lost in Terraria's plants and caverns and monsters, and even spending minutes just digging aimlessly around doesn't feel boring, because eventually there will be something interesting to find. Also, the graphics are impressive in how convincing they are. They feel alive. I remember the first time I was attacked by a giant worm; it is far, far less threatening and dangerous than its name suggests, but the first time it darted past me in a darkened cavern, my whole skin crawled. I get the creeps just remembering it. But that was nothing compared to when the Eye of Cthulhu first appeared. Not even Borderlands 2's most grotesque monsters or Dead Island's zombies could give me that sense of dread. It beat me the first time, but on the second try, I nailed it, and I felt so triumphant...

Terraria is a game I have to play with a lot of caution, because I know I'll not want to leave. I dearly recommend it for anyone who enjoys world building and has a little patience spare to face its first minutes of gameplay. It pays off.
"Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles"

-- Bob Dylan, "Visions of Johanna"

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