Terraria is a dynamic and original blend of mechanics and features found in many fan-favorite franchises and games, selecting bits and pieces from a voluminous library of classic titles and forging them together in an ingenious way.
With a mixture of classic 2-D side-scrolling sensibilities found in legendary hall of fame franchises like Super Mario Bros. and those found in Minecraft's distinct open-world block-building, Terraria also shakes things up a bit with RPG mechanics like equip-able items and real-time combat.
Just like in Minecraft, Terraria allows gamers to make whatever they want in the game: the only limit is your imagination (and your patience).
At the start of the game it's easy to be overwhelmed by the sense of freedom and the size of the world, yet Terraria is not a game that's made for instant gratification. It harkens back to the golden age of gaming where players could pour dozens of hours into a game and still have fun, rather than the games of our era that provide anywhere from 10-30 hours of gameplay.
Terraria's massive scope can be intimidating for some, and it's lack of objectivity and freedom isn't for everyone; however the gameplay is balanced and like any other game, players learn from experience.
Much of the game is spent collecting resources from the environment–chopping down trees with your hatchet for wood, picking at rocks to get stone and ore to create even more items–which can be somewhat boring at times. The real fun is how you utilize what you've collected to build your own world, whether its a sprawling mansion filled with elaborate treasures, or a meek cottage that spans thirty feet into the sky.
The inventory screen in Terraria is quite expansive, holding all of the loot and items at any given time. Loot can also be stored in chests, which are easily crafted.
Collecting resources is a major part of the game, but its not the entire game: along with mining and hacking at trees, players will also spend a decent amount of time in Terraria's real-time combat. There are a variety of enemies throughout the game, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Players can build structures to better tackle certain enemy types–like eagle's nests high up to snipe at enemies with a bow–to aid them in combat, adding a certain level of strategy to the combat.
The game's interface is pretty basic, with an item bar at the top of the HUD as well as your standard life meter, which is represented in Zelda-esque hearts. The inventory screens are a bit convoluted and confusing at first, and is the heart of the game's crafting system. Players can assign items such as usable structures like wooden platforms–extremely useful when you find yourself stuck in a hole–as well as hatchets, swords and pick axes.
Additionally up to four items can be assigned to the D-Pad for quick equipping.
The controls are pretty basic and are well-adjusted to the Xbox 360 controller, but some acclimation to the controls is required in order to get used to the game itself. The console port reverts back and forth from a sort of free-roam placement scheme to as sort of radial scheme, which is the principal targeting system in the game. Both schemes are utilized in everything from placing blocks, attacking enemies, and mining.
The free-roam scheme itself selects blocks in a grid, snapping onto each block vertically or horizontally. The radial scheme is better for combat, as players can aim up and down much easier with bows.
A myriad of different defense items can be crafted in Terraria, each with their own signature visual flair and effectiveness in combat.
Crafting is the source of most of the game's usable items: from weapons to potions and important house-hold items like crafting tables and chests, crafting is the heart of Terraria's items. Players can also find a smorgasbord of loot scattered randomly throughout the worlds, hidden in the depths or in the heart of the world itself. Gear ranges from armors that add defense to players as well as consumables like potions, and even weapon drops.
Without an EXP progression system, gamers instead must rely on better gear and acquiring more resources to craft better weapons and other items. The game in itself is not only about exploration, but a sort of grind where accumulation of items is key. This is the general gameplay of Terraria, as the other elements constitute to the world-building mechanics–which are nonetheless interrupted by the day-to-night transitions.
Items can also be found as loot throughout the game–either dropped by slain enemies, found in chests, or scattered randomly throughout the levels. Certain weapons and items can also be purchased by NPC vendors.
Above is a diagram of many of the items featured in Terraria, from weapons and potions to boots and charms.
Items can also unlock various spells in the game, each with their own elemental strengths and effectiveness. For example, players can find the Orb of Light, which is dropped by Shadow Orb enemies in the Corruption biome, and when cast it adds a helpful light-filled orb that follows players dispatching darkness as it goes. When casted, these spells use mana, which is represented by stars, and can be replenished by potions.
Terraria's range of items is quite dizzying, as there are dozens upon dozens of consumables, weapons, armors and other items featured throughout the game. As players progress deeper and deeper into their worlds, finding new items and slaying bosses, the items themselves get better and better.
Vanity Items can make players look like iconic heroes from pop culture, from Link to Indiana Jones and Mario.
Additionally players can also increase their health capacity by finding Heart Crystals, which can be found underground in the Underworld–a hellish planescape found by digging too deep into the earth where monsters run rampant–Jungle Undergrounds, or in the Dungeon.
There are so many different combinations of equip-able items that add so many different effects that Terraria in itself is more than just a traditional RPG with a limited series of gear; it's a multi-faceted experience wherein gamers can make use of any number of items as they see fit and take advantage of a dazzling array of bonuses, each with their own distinct abilities and additions.
Collecting the items is one of the main motivators to Terraria's gameplay, and the game doesn't get stale as there's always something to do and always something to look forward to crafting.
A simple–yet effective–structure can keep away the ghouls and demon eyes that plague Terraria's nightly hours.
Terraria also features dynamic transitions from day to night that are akin to those featured in Minecraft: at night, a horde of marauding ghouls spawn and roam the earth, searching for prey to chomp on.
Players are encouraged to build a makeshift house during the midnight hours to protect themselves from the zombies and demon eyes, offering sanctuary from the undead and a respite from their powerful attacks.
A diagram of the many biomes featured in Terraria.
The worlds in Terraria can range from Small, Medium and Large. Each size denotes not only the overall size of the world itself, but also the amount of items hidden throughout its depths. Large worlds can take quite a while to explore fully and are recommended for multiplayer as they have a huge variety of hidden items peppered throughout, whereas Small worlds are more manageable for singleplayer gameplay.
The worlds themselves are made up of many different biomes–different environments–that are characterized by their enemies, flora and fauna, and general appearance. There are a variety of different biomes such as deserts, forests, jungles, floating islands, jungles and even a hellish underworld.
Many of these biomes have distinct enemies which drop certain loot–sometimes high quality loot–and there are also many in-game bosses that can be found in these areas.
The infamous Skeletron, one of the harder bosses in Terraria that is found in the Dungeons.
The bosses add a homage to old-school platforming games, further showing the level of commitment that the developers at Re-Logic have put into Terraria. The bosses sometimes take up half of the screen and are quite epic in scale and difficulty, and provide an intense battle for any gamer.
Like the bosses in traditional platformers–take Castlevania for example–most of the bosses have their own weaknesses and require players to perform certain attacks while dodging enemy attacks at the same time, harkening back to the old days of 2-D platformers.
Above you can see just a few of the many NPC's in Terraria, each offering their own distinct and helpful services.
The various worlds also feature NPC's that range from Nurses who regenerate health for a few coins to Merchants, where players can buy and sell items. Each NPC is spawned only when certain pre-requisites are met, such as adequate comfort items which can be crafted or made, and the NPC's themselves only spawn in a house with a certain level of additions and features.
The NPC's are vital to the progression and overall development to players, and not only fill up a player's home, but bring a sense of accomplishment and actual usefulness to gameplay. Some of NPC's include Demolitionists who sell dynamite and explosives, Arms Dealers who sell musketballs and flintlock pistols, the Clothier who sells Vanity items–which alter a character's in-game representation–and the Wizard, who sells eldritch items like crystal balls and greater mana potions.
Two gamers playing together in the same world in Terraria.
Terraria also features online co-op and multiplayer, allowing gamers to team up and aid one another in their quest for glory and treasure. Up to four players can exchange items, slay enemies, build houses–or anything else–and generally enjoy the game as it is in singleplayer together. Additionally the game also features a PVP function, allowing gamers to test their mettle against one another.
Players can acquire a pet zombie in the console port of Terraria.
Pets are also included in the game, however they don't seem to have any real in-game effect and appear to be entirely cosmetic in nature and add a bit of visual flair to the game.
The zombie and bat are pets that are exclusive to both Xbox 360 and PS3 ports of the game, yet unlike most other pets, the pet bat will actually aid players by attacking nearby enemies. The pets themselves are summoned when a certain item–a brain for a zombie, a vial of blood for a bat, or a carrot for a bunny–is found and consumed. The items spawn randomly throughout the game.