First, let me sincerely apologize to anyone who may be looking forward to my post about Thief: The Dark Project. That’s definitely on my to-do list, but I haven’t actually beaten the game yet. Part of that is because I got stuck on some maze of a level where I have to get to a cathedral so I can steal an eye or something, but it’s mostly because I’ve been spending almost every moment of free time for the past week or so playing Terraria.
Terraria is an indie game that was just recently released, and many people have declared it to be the “2D Minecraft.” I can definitely see where these people are coming from. The game resembles Minecraft in many ways, and it’s obvious the developers took inspiration from it. Terraria involves massive procedurally generated worlds, extensive mining and crafting, creating weapons and armor in order to fight respawning monsters, mining deep into the earth to find rare minerals, et cetera.
You know, what with everyone throwing heaps of praise onto Minecraft, I have to say that the game never really resonated with me the same way it apparently did for everyone else. It was entertaining and interesting for a little while, but I never really found much to do once I dug down to the center of the earth and built a tower reaching the clouds. I heard from my friends talking about how they built huge castles or dragons or penises or whatever, and I never really felt invested enough to do any of that. I tried playing “nomad style” where you just explore the overworld and survive waves of baddies during the night, but that quickly became repetitive.
But Terraria has easily hooked me in a way that Minecraft never could.
The most obvious and blatant difference between Terraria and Minecraft is in the third dimension; while Minecraft plays in the first-person perspective, Terraria plays like a 2D sidescroller a la Metroidvania. While that difference sounds simple in writing, it means they have to completely reimagine and redesign everything in order to make it work. The result is that comparing Terraria to Minecraft seems like comparing Contra to DOOM. Sure, they both involve running around and shooting things, but they feel completely different.
But that’s most certainly not the only major difference between Terraria and Minecraft. The main difference in general design, from what I gather anyway, is that while Minecraft goes for simplicity, Terraria goes for variety. Minecraft simply went for broke using the basic concepts of mining and crafting (hence the title, I suppose) while Terraria has filled itself with a massive pile of different activities for you to explore and achieve. Minecraft may have pulled off the whole “building massive monuments” niche much better than Terraria, but Terraria does damn near everything else better. So if you’re not into building massive monuments, then chances are you’ll like Terraria much more.
Terraria has a long list of different features, so I’m just going to mention the ones that stick out in my mind.
There are various RPG elements. You can use certain items you find to upgrade your max health and mana, and there are about a million different items of varying levels of rarity that you can find and/or craft. There’s the same set of armors and weapons you can craft as in Minecraft, but there are also a whole bunch of accessories you can find in dungeons, including a health regeneration ring, a double-jump bottle, boots of haste and a mirror that essentially acts as an infinite supply of town portal scrolls. This allows for different people to set different goals to find or craft different items for themselves; I set a goal fairly early on to craft my own lightsaber, and after several days of mining, crafting, fighting, dying and respawning I finally achieved that goal yesterday:
You may have noticed the bearded old man behind me in that shot. Well, that leads me to the next feature: You can build houses like in Minecraft, but in this game you can get NPCs to move into them. Different NPCs will move in depending on what you’ve accomplished in the world; an arms dealer will appear if you’ve found a gun, a nurse will show up if you’ve upped your max health, a merchant will pop in if you get over 50 silver, etc. These NPCs can be very helpful, and it’s nice that we can now sell all those items we don’t need instead of having to stuff them all in chests or toss them into fires like in Minecraft.
The only NPC I haven’t unlocked yet is the dryad, which will only join your town if you’ve killed a boss monster. Oh yeah, another thing: there’s boss monsters. And holy hell, do those monsters pack a punch.
There’s a lot more monster variety in general in this game than in Minecraft. Minecraft simply had four enemies if I recall correctly (zombies, skeletons, spiders and creepers) while Terraria has about a kajillion of them that spawn in different locations and during different events. Zombies, giant floating eyes, floating chunks of meteorite, fire imps, various incarnations of giant dirt worm, slime monsters, varying classes of goblins, the list goes on. I’ve been playing almost all week, and I’m fairly certain I still haven’t encountered all the different monsters in the game.
Minecraft is a game that paradoxically has a lot to offer and nothing to offer at the same time. When you spawn in the world for the first time you see a land of infinite possibilities, but after you’ve explored it for a few hours you’ve pretty much seen everything.
Terraria is a game that has a lot to offer, period. Tons of variety in the terrain, monsters, items and features. I really don’t see this game getting old any time soon.
If you like Metroidvania-style games, you should probably give this game a look. And if you like Minecraft but wish there was more to do in it, then you owe it to yourself to get this game. It’s only $10 anyway, it’s not really that much of a risk.