The comparison to Minecraft are inevitable, mainly because of the fact that 505 Games’ recently published console edition of Terraria is incredibly similar to Mojang’s multi-million selling wonder. Without wanting to put to fine a point on it, Terraria plays pretty much as you would expect a 2D version of Minecraft to play: you dig, build, craft and fight in all the same ways. But within these layers of familiarities are come fresh ideas.
With Terraria artificially limiting it’s playfield to two dimensions the videogame is more concerned with the verticality of its world. It’s more than possible to spend hours working back-and-forth across the surface, but to do so would be to somewhat miss the point. Terraria’s randomly generated worlds hold a wealth of underground caverns and hidden items to find, enemies to encounter and new materials for crafting. The day-to-night circle that controls the enemies faced and available light on the surface has no bearing on your adventures down below, but height and speed most certainly do.
While there is no direct structure to the proceedings, Terraria will gently provide objectives for those who feel they need them. A number of non-player characters (NPCs) exist within the world and the player is encouraged to firstly provide them with accommodation, and secondly get them to it. There’s also a number of boss fights to punctuate proceedings, offering great hindrance in exchange for unique rewards.
While Terraria caters for the solo player perfectly well, it’s in the co-operative gameplay that it really comes alive. Available either locally or online, though not a combination of the two, online play dumps up to four players in a single world with all the experience and equipment they have previously acquired. In this regard, a player’s save data acts on two levels: characters and worlds. Any combination thereof is available, with a second, third of even fourth created character able to visit the world of the first and entirely reconstruct it; adding and removing items, houses and blocks of terrain as the see fit, whether it’s their world or a friends’. This does of course mean players have to be very careful about the kind of person they let into their world, and thankfully Terraria has the options to limit just that.
A welcome addition to the Xbox LIVE Arcade distribution channel in every respect, Terraria is a timesink in the most positive sense. Able to swallow entire evenings in creating a single path or new building, it certainly packs value for money. Addictive and gently rewarding, Terraria is pleasant change-of-pace from the action-orientated experiences, but also demands enough reactionary gameplay that it could be deemed suitable for even a gaming newcomer.