Some say MineCraft, I say Terraria. The comparisons are there, but on many levels, Terraria couldn’t be more different. The sandbox creation genre has inspired the world over, but not me. Honestly, it still hasn’t. Following in Minecraft 360’s footsteps comes Terraria, covering both the consoles , bring forth a more fun experience than Minecraft, with much of the creativity in tact. Terraria is a great choice if you want to build some junk, play with friends, and more, even if I’m not that into it.
Terraria puts you into a world generated at your fingertips. You start by designing a world of your own (Jivetopia) and a character of yours to control (Jive Turkison). And sets you loose to do whatever your pixelated heart desires (spending the first few hours collecting dirt blocks because I had no idea what was going on).
Terraria doesn’t hold your hand. Not in the Dark Souls figure it out or die way, but in the parent at the playground dumping toddler you in a sandbox way. The world crafted is unique to you, and how you take and build from it is complete your choice. For newcomers, this could start off confusing, as no tutorial greets you upon your first excursion. Instead, players can access a sort of vague “how to play” menu within the pause screen. Those firsties unaware of this (questionable) luxury will be left helpless until they figure out their own devices, or find the separate tutorial mode.
Collecting blocks, crafting items, and building shelter are all pillars of the Terraria Experience. Much like MineCraft, this is a game focused on survival. Though, for those looking for an easier experience, difficulty selections offer variation in enemy difficulty, as well as penalties for loss of life. On the game’s easiest mode, only gold will be lost and the player will be respawned at the spawn point of their world. On the hardest difficulty, death of your character is permanent.
Enemies are prevalent in the game, much moreso than Minecraft, and in increase variation. Dragon Quest-esque blobs populate the daytime above ground, which are usually weak, and offer up gel which allows you to build torches for life-sustaining light. At night, monsters erupt from the very pore of the earth. Zombies crawl around, flying eyeballs home in from the air, and everything is out to kill you.
Because of the increased difficulty and persistence of the night-onslaught, building a house is one’s first priority. Using material collected (namely wood and stone), you can build yourself an abode of any preferred size. At the very least, one that protects you from the undead horde. Building the ultimate mansion is where the game finds its most value. You collect more and more material to add more and more to your mansion. Building it taller, or wider. Seeing it go from a small hut to an illustrious castle fit for several kinds is satisfying, and the meat of where Terraria hooks its addictive qualities key for a creative sandbox game such as itself.
Digging and mining for ore to craft better walls, armor or weapons is a part of the experience equally as involving. Building deep catacombs beneath your world is fun in and of itself. Using markers, such as tiki torches or carefully crafted staircases, players can dig deep into the core of the world. The deeper you dig, the better the treasure you find, and the more perilous enemies and landscapes you encounter. Dig deep enough, and Terraria will unveil a host of bosses, amazing structures, and prime uses of its combat system. Unfortunately, the combat system, much like the PC version feels clunky. Your character simply swings his/her weapon around rather frantically. The bow is an improvement, but only marginally so.
Spelunking and building is also more limited and bizarre on the Xbox 360 version. Your character has boxes of influence clearly marked around their person, within which cursor movement, and thus interactivity is limited. Using the analog sticks to manipulate this field can be awkward. It is very easy to add seconds or minutes to jobs due to confused accidental movements, resulting in unintentionally placed blocks. The PC version has a leg up with mouse controls.
That isn’t why you come to Terraria, though. You came for a sandbox to end all sandboxes. For many, this may be it. Others might find themselves more at home with top competitor MineCraft. Terraria‘s ditching of a dimension adds a bit more streamlined reliability to the worlds, but it also cuts an entire dimension from the building process. Instead of having rooms, you have what feels like platforms, like you are building a house very much like a level from Castlevania. Instead of stairs, you have platforms you jump from to get to new floors. It makes it feel like I’m not as much building a house as I’m not manipulating dimensions, and certain accommodations just don’t exist here in a two dimensional space. It loses out to it’s Notchian cousin there, if by just a little.
The 360 version of Terraria does fare better than the same version of MineCraft. The entire suite is here, free of limitations (other than the aforementioned awkward controls). If you are into Terraria, and have some friends, and some 360 systems, consider checking out this version of the game. It is the most fun you can get out of a sandbox title on the platform. While it may underperform slightly to the PC version, everything you love about the game (or will love) is here – even if I don’t particularly love it myself.