Even 8 years later this two-dimensional survival game still piques my interest. I have already spent hundreds of hours mining, building, gearing, fighting massive bosses and I could easily spend hundreds more due to the thriving modding community. Though actual developer game updates are sparse, they do still continue working on new features and fixes while porting and providing updates to console and mobile versions of the game.
Although some believe Terraria derives some inspiration from Minecraft, it is important to distinguish the major differences. These differences very much so separate Terraria as its own genre-defining experience. Terraria has a larger focus on gear and boss progression. In a new game progression is very basic and mostly boils down to digging enough to find ores to make a better pick axe. Later on progression becomes much deeper with a wide selection of choices.
You can focus on magic, melee, ranged, summons and can take advantage of all sorts of special abilities like invisibility or even flight. There are certainly some items that are not quite as useful as others, but there is such a massive amount of different items to choose from that you will certainly be able to create a character that plays exactly the way you want. If you’re feeling a gap in your build, or you’ve just played through vanilla Terraria too many times already, it’s very easy to find a massive amount more variety in items through the game’s modding system.
The other important and incredibly fun part of progression in Terraria is the boss fights. You will often advance through the bosses in order alongside your gear progression. Some gear are found, or crafted from exploring the world, however bosses are usually a more important milestone for your equipment. Bosses often drop key components or complete items that generally prove to be much more powerful than anything you’d be using before it. Because of this, many bosses are much more easily defeated using loot obtained from previous boss encounters.
I quite enjoy the sandbox nature of the game, however it certainly comes with a fairly annoying issue. There isn’t really a clear way to figure out how to do certain things in-game. When these “hidden” things are required for progression it can get frustrating. This frustration can be easily remedied by visiting the game’s community wiki. It covers pretty much anything you could want to know about the game, and the player base is very good at keeping it up to date. If browsing the wiki isn’t appealing to you, there are several mods out there that make for a good replacement. I would highly recommend checking out “Boss Checklist” for giving you a quick and clear list for keeping track of what bosses you’ve defeated and which you should fight next.
You play in randomly generated worlds of limited size with varying features, but you are encouraged to bring your character across multiple different worlds throughout progression. You have options for character customization but it is quite limited as your character is just a small 2D sprite. While you are exploring your world you will be fighting off hordes of monsters, bosses, gathering loot, and building homes for yourself and your friendly NPCs. The vanilla experience easily gives hundreds of hours of play, but if you take it a step further and bring friends or find some fun mods, you will easily bring on hundreds more hours of enjoyment.
User Interface / Controls
The User Interface, or UI, is still largely the same as it’s been for many years but it gets the job done. It’s very clear and familiar if you’ve played Minecraft. It’s fairly easy to learn and get used to if not. There are a good amount of choices for customizing quality of life options which is appreciated. Default controls work just fine for me playing on mouse and keyboard, and it has good controller support as well. All controls can be easily rebound for either control option.
As it’s a 2D pixel-art game I can’t speak much to the impressiveness of the graphical fidelity. However, I can say that the game runs well even when there are many monsters and particles on the screen at the same time. Though the art style is somewhat basic, the developers have done a good job of creating their own unique aesthetic with the theme of their monsters and bosses. I believe the majority of people would easily be able to recognize a sprite from this game even long after they’d stopped playing it. Also to be noted, there are plenty of graphical options to customize how your game looks or help it run better.
Overall quality of the audio is good. I wish there were more options for adjusting volumes or being able to mute certain things, but overall it’s not a big deal. The sound effects aren’t particularly amazing and some of them can get a big jarring such as when you’re constantly firing a laser pistol and hearing constant “pew-pew-pewing” in your ears. I usually turn the effects down a bit and just enjoy the incredible music in the game instead. Terraria’s soundtrack is certainly one of my favorites, and I’d recommend giving it a listen even if you don’t play the game.
Modding to some people tends to scare them away and think they’re going to get banned or break their game, but often that’s not even a risk. Modding in Terarria is allowed and it is very easy! There’s a plugin called “Terraria Mod Loader” that allows for very simple browsing and adding of mods to your game. I would highly recommend looking into this after you’ve played through vanilla Terraria a couple times. There is a massive amount of mods out there for this game, and there are still more being made and improved right now.
Terraria truly is a genre-defining game in my eyes. I believe it had help growing to fame riding on Minecraft’s popularity wave, but it stands strong being one of the games that many others that have come after it have pulled inspiration from. Terraria is a 2D survival game that combines gear progression, survival, fast paced boss fights, leisurely building and many other activities that come together for a unique experience that I haven’t seen anywhere else. For the price, I have absolutely every reason to recommend this game to anyone that might be even remotely interested. I know that even years from now I will still continue to come back and spend hundreds hours more in this wonderful game.
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