I'm Gonna Miss My Free Time - AshaMan3000 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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I'm Gonna Miss My Free Time

About a week ago I decided to go on a bit of a download spree on PSN.  I'd found a $50 gift card in my wallet (from Christmas I think) and figured now was as good a time as any to pick up some games I'd been wanting to play for a while.  First up I dove straight into Machinarium and spent a few days working out the puzzles, chuckling at the completely non-voiced storyline, and ultimately saving the girl and escaping the city.  After that I figured Demon's Souls would be the next long overdue title I would finish up but it managed to anger me today so I moved onto the third and final game I grabbed instead.

It captured my nostalgia from the moment the title screen popped up.

I've dumped about four hours into Terraria so far and have come away with some pretty strong impressions of the title.  It's got a steep learning curve so I recommend playing the twenty minute long tutorial first.  It'll get you acclimated to the control scheme which, while finicky at times, works well with a bit of practice (although I suggest using the more direct control of the cursor by clicking R3 when building as the default control is a bit too loose).  

Once you've gotten the hang of the controls it's time to generate a world of your own and immediately start tearing it apart during the day for the resources needed to build the many items you'll want to have handy for surviving the monster-filled evenings.

An example of an early-build home in the game.  Nicer than mine but still pretty basic.

First things first you're going to want to start collecting resources.  Scrolling through the hotbar of usable items on the top of the screen is a breeze with R2 and L2 and switching between your axe to chop down trees and pickaxe for mining ore will be the first task most players will attempt.  Three or four trees and and a hefty pile of stone will get you started and moving onto building your first home is as simple as highlighting wood or stone from your inventory and placing it using the cursor and R1.  Once you've got walls, a roof, at least one door, and a workbench the home you've built will be complete enough for early-game purposes.

Having a secure home is key because as night falls many, many monsters begin lurking around the area and come after you pretty fiercely if you're outside.  That's not to say you should just hunker down in your new fort however as the enemies at night drop many items needed to craft the increasingly more useful gear the game offers as time goes by.

An example of a much more advanced home than anything I'm yet capable of!

Now don't start thinking that building your own version of Dracula's mansion is the only goal of the game as many other aspects exist as well.  Building a forge to complement your workbench will allow weapon and armor crafting which will increase your character's abilities against the increasingly more difficult enemies the game throws at you.  Finding fallen stars at night opens up magical options and items found in the underworld (reached by digging ever deeper into the randomly created world your game exists in) will increase your health.

Between new weapon and armor sets, moderate 'leveling' in the form of increasing your health and mana, and (I'm assuming at this point as I'm still early in the game) traps created to help ease the battles against nighttime monsters, Terraria offers quite a bit of content all wrapped up in a three-way blend of classic Castlevania, Ghosts 'n Goblins, and Minecraft conventions.

While the single-player aspects work perfectly well I look forward to trying this one out with three buddies.  Scavenging, crafting, and monster-killing with friends is a pretty appealing feature (although not needed to enjoy the game itself).

While pixelated and 2-D, the scope of the worlds generated in Terraria is pretty dang impressive.  I'm playing on the largest of three world sizes available (similar to my Civilization quirk of refusing to play on smaller maps) and can't help but think they did an amazing job incorporating varied landmasses, ocean floors, floating islands high in the sky, and the underworld to create a compelling world to explore.  The landscapes change from fertile hills to flat deserts to snowy tundras as you explore the overworld and the underground sections are littered with new, interesting areas to explore while looking for the rare resources needed for advanced item crafting.

The enemies are varied and interesting as well.  Simple varieties of slime abound in the early parts of the game but are quickly complemented by birds of prey, zombies, flying eyeballs (think pixelated beholders from D&D), and some impressive bosses I've dug photos up of but have yet to encounter in-game.

While the giant bloodshot eye is the obvious first target I'll probably be spending quite a bit of time hunting purple haired unicorns just because I can!

It's these bosses that give you the true motivation for increasing the size and scope of your home and the quality of gear available for your character.  Even early game enemies can kill you if you're not careful and these bosses will likely (again I'm still early in my playthrough) cause severe headaches for those not prepared.  While the act of creating is it's own dangling carrot, without the increasingly more difficult bosses the game throws at you I imagine I'd quickly tire of it along the lines of my abandonment of games like The Sims.  

Another great thing about the bosses is that they'll break up the usual flow of gathering/building/exploring during the day and fighting off hordes of monsters at night.  Giving the core gameplay a shakeup with giant eyeballs (or worse, see below) adds some pretty cool non-necessary objectives to a genre that's commonly known for not having much direction given to the players.  While strictly sim-style games are cool in their own right, having goals that I don't have to come up with myself (and can ignore if I choose) makes Terraria something special in a genre that can get boring pretty quick to those who are less creative than others.

A more close-up shot of the Skeleton Prime boss shown in the multi-player screen earlier.

Long story short, I'm having a ton of fun exploring my world in Terraria.  It'd be easy to look at screenshots of the game and dismiss it as yet another nostalgia style cash grab by an indie developer but the whole is so much greater than the sum of it's parts.  This seems like the sort of game that one could play pretty much endlessly with the randomly generated worlds and I for one know I'm gonna be awfully tired for work tomorrow as I'm getting ready to dive back in soon.  

Sorry other commitments, Terraria will be destroying my free time for the foreseeable future.

I'm Ashaman7791 on PSN if any other GIOers are playing this on PS3.  Add me and we'll have some fun together sometime!

Anyone else trying this out yet?  

Would any PC users like to comment on how the versions differ?

Thanks for reading ladies and gents and happy gaming!

 

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