Okay, so maybe I’m not completely dependent on the the game, but I got way more into Terraria than I expected. Based off the game’s previous coverage the independent PC title just looked like 2D Minecraft. While the two sandbox titles share much in common, the world of Terraria delivers a uniquely addictive and rewarding experience that’s difficult to step away from.

By now you’ve probably heard of Minecraft. In that game players use axes, pickaxes, and other tools to harvest the world’s resources and mine into the earth. The same happens here, but the game’s 2D nature grants a broader perspective of the world. You can see where precious copper veins snake their way through the dirt, or enemies lurking beneath a thin layer of soil. The game also has a crafting system, day/night cycle, and tons of collectible items.

Like in Minecraft, deadly enemies attack at night so it’s important to build a shelter right away. After chopping down a few trees I constructed myself a humble hovel to ward off zombies and flying eyeballs. Over the course of my numerous hours with Terraria I joyfully expanded my home into a three story structure with plenty of chests for storage, crafting stations, doors, and even an opening into my own private mineshaft.

Mining is as simple as taking your pick axe to the soil and digging until you discover some precious metal or a cavernous opening. Monsters populate the underground, keeping players on their toes. The enemy variety is impressive, with bats, slimes, earth-digging worms, and skeletons populating the nether regions. Unlike Minecraft, treasure chests and destructible clay pots litter these underground areas, packing useful items and resources. I discovered immensely useful trinkets like double-jump boots, new weapons, and even permanent HP boosts. Thanks to the game’s random terrain generator, you never know what to expect.

Things get dark underground, so it’s a good idea to pack a bunch of torches to light the way. I even stumbled upon glowsticks in my adventure, which I used to illuminate bodies of water or gauge the depths of mysterious drop-offs. The rhythmic flow of digging, setting torches, and digging some more is comforting, and makes finding a gold or silver vein all the more rewarding. Using dirt or stone to craft stairs and ledges while mining is a snap, and players can even build a handy grappling hook to climb around underground like Spider-man.

Players are fairly squishy at first, resulting in frequent deaths. However, you retain all your collected items when you respawn in your home, so the sting of death is removed substantially. I loved digging as far as I could, dying, crafting new items with my new found resources, then mining some more. Cobbling together your first set of armor or splurging on that gold pickaxe are the little motivators that will keep you playing for hours.

During my exploration I dug deep enough to discover vast caverns with luminescent mushrooms, and even found a fiery hell world with molten lava and fire imps. These areas become progressively more challenging, requiring players to enhance their weapons and armor frequently. The game not only changes when digging downwards, but traveling laterally reveals new regions. I uncovered an unsettling, corrupt landscape with flying abominations and venomous mushrooms. I also saw desert areas, huge forests, and oceans bookending either end of the world map. Every world sports a dungeon guarded by a high level boss. While I was too underpowered to take on the guardian, I’m sure there are lots of goodies within to be uncovered. The real kicker is that I was playing in one of the Terraria’s small maps, which means the medium and large worlds must be tremendous.

I had as a ton of fun playing Terraria solo, but I believe the multiplayer experience will improve the game even more. My mind is reeling from the lodes group mining runs could yield. I’m also excited to join with friends to build a gigantic fortress where we can equip ourselves before taking on huge bosses or crawling dungeons. Having an extra sword protecting your back is always nice.

Like Minecraft, the denizens of Terraria enjoy free ongoing updates. These expand the world, add items, and generally improve the overall experience. If you enjoyed Minecraft and are looking for a new experience, I definitely recommend Terraria. Even if you’ve never played a mining/crafting-based sandbox game, I still suggest trying this one out. Despite my numerous comparisons to Minecraft, my time with Terraria has been unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in gaming, and has me excited to see how developer Re-Logic will augment the game moving forward.

Learn more about Terraria here.