Review: Terraria

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: T - Teenagers
My Rating: Ages 10 and up
Genre: Building / Survival / Platformer
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2011
Reviewed Version: 1.3
Review Published On: April 14, 2017
Played on: Martha & Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

Whenever you return to the game's menu or quit the game altogether, your character's information and the state of the world you left is saved automatically.

However, if you are playing as a Hardcore character, then their save data is erased when the character dies.

Summary of
Major Issues:

The worlds of Terraria are full of monsters and magic. Many of these monsters will try to kill your characters, and there is some mild blood and gore involved in the combat. That said, there is an option in the game's menu to reduce the amount of gore.

Beyond this, there are lot of things in this game that are inspired by Lovecraftian horror, including an evil cult.


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A well-stocked base

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Exploring the underground jungle

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Visiting the Underworld

Game Overview

Terraria bills itself as a sandbox game where you can reshape a strange new world to your liking. Personally, I disagree with this description, as there's a clear progression towards an end goal, which is something that sandbox games typically lack. But, while there is a goal for you to work towards, you have the freedom to approach things however you want.

The first thing to keep in mind though, is that this game is heavily focused on combat. Monsters are always lurking somewhere nearby, and most of them are fairly strong compared to your typical player character. This is even more of a disadvantage during invasions or during events like the Blood Moon. During these periods, scores of monsters attack at once, and they can easily overwhelm an unprepared player.

All of this fighting is why you need to create a secure and reliable base that you can retreat into every now and then. Aside from giving you some rest between battles, your base also provides a central location where you can craft better equipment, store items you've found in your travels, and even house various NPC characters that offer various useful services.

All of this only scratches the surface of what can be done in Terraria. After all, in order to build that awesome new base or craft those fancy weapons, you'll need to mine, log, and scavenge around in your worlds to find all of the materials. There are also various things you can do just to pass a little time or enjoy an extra challenge. On top of this, new content is added regularly.

Lastly, since no two worlds are alike and no one world has every possible feature, you'll need to play this game for a very long time to even come close to seeing everything that it has to offer. For extra fun, you can even bring a friend along and survive together.

Points of Interest

Almost everything can be customized
It would probably be easier to list the items you can't accessorize and customize. Making you character look unique is ridiculously easy as there are scores of different outfits that they can wear. Just about anything that can be worn can also be dyed, so if you like the style but not the color, then you can change it to something else.

Before you even begin exploring your first world, you're given a lot of leeway in creating your character. There are several outfits to choose from, and you can color them however you want without dyes or other items. And that's just your character's clothing. When it comes to hairstyles, you can choose from over 50 different options!
You can take it with you
Unlike a lot of similar games, Terraria keeps the character information and the world information separate. The main benefit to this is that your character can freely travel to new worlds at any time, and you're not obligated to keep the old worlds around. In fact, it's recommended that you explore a lot of worlds in order to find many of the rarer treasures.
Bosses and random events
Like most games based around fighting monsters, there are a number of dangerous bosses that you'll need to deal with as you progress in the game. Many of them require you to summon them using specific items, but a few will come out to battle when they feel the time is right.

In addition to the bosses, there are various events that can randomly occur. These include various types of invasions, the dangerous Blood Moon event, and a number of holiday themed surprises. Like the bosses, some of the events can be triggered again later on by using a specific item.
Seasonal events
Several special events are based around certain holidays. For example, around Halloween the world will suddenly start sprouting pumpkins and the local monsters will begin dropping goodie bags that contain candy and costumes. There's also a Christmas event with candy canes, Santa Claus and other Christmas trappings. These events also come with a chance of an invasion of a special holiday themed monster army for you to fight and earn new items from.
Other things to do
If surviving and conquering a feral world aren't enough for you, there are many other ways of spending your time. You could prepare potions, cook delicious food, fish for treasure, and even build a thriving town. NPCs will happily move into vacant housing once you've fulfilled their requirements, and since they provide various services, making a safe town for them to live in is strongly recommended.
Cloud services
While many games take advantage of Steam's cloud services, this deserves a mention here because Terraria allows you to choose which worlds and characters are stored on the cloud. The main benefits of this include backups in case of some disaster and the ability to continue your game from any computer that has Steam and Terraria installed on it.
Steam achievements and trading cards
There are a lot of things to do in this game, and many of them come with a related achievement. Examples include the achievements for defeating bosses for the first time to achievements for crafting something extremely powerful, like the famous Terra Blade. Steam trading cards are also available, if you like collecting those.
This game can be very hard at times
There are many events and biomes that are a good challenge for late game characters, but these situations will easily overpower and crush weaker characters like insects. Some of these situations can be prevented by staying out of very dangerous areas until you're ready, but many of them happen randomly, and can catch an unlucky player by surprise.

Making things a bit worse is that when you defeat a specific boss for the first time, the world is thrown into "hardmode". This alters the world by adding new and very dangerous biomes to the existing landscape, and extremely deadly enemies begin spawning. Simply put, if you're not ready to face hardmode, don't try to fight the Wall of Flesh.
Events can trigger at bad times
Several of the game's events happen without the player's control. This means you can be stuck dealing with a boss or invasion when you're really not ready for it. In the worst case scenario, the event will be centered on your spawn point, meaning that you'll never be able to get away from the event once it starts. The best thing to do is to leave the world, as this cancels most events. In the meantime, you'll risk losing any items or coins you dropped when you were killed, and the monsters often manage to kill some of the townsfolk you've befriended in your journey if you can't defend them well enough.

Concerns and Issues

An infected world
Every world in Terraria is infected by some form of evil. Sometimes it's the fleshy, blood colored Crimson, other times it's the decaying and purple Corruption. While they differ greatly in their appearance and the types of monsters that live there, these are just different flavors of the same thing. Both biomes grow and spread, feature macabre creatures, dangerous plants and even a unique type of magical metal.

It's worth noting that the items and creatures found in the Corruption tend to be named after or inspired by demons, while the Crimson's variants are themed after blood and fleshy things.
Use of evil altars
Both forms of the evil infection bring with them a form of corrupted altar. You use these as a type of crafting bench to make various items. Most of the time, you'll use them to make items that summon the game's boss monsters, but there are some other items that can only be made at one of these dark altars. For example, after gathering enough vertebrae and some mushroom powder, you'll be able to make a Bloody Spine, which is used to summon the Brain of Cthulhu.

Later on in the game, you'll shatter some of these altars using a magical hammer. Doing this blesses the world with powerful magical metals like Cobalt and Mythril.
Blood and gore
When a creature is killed, their sprite is torn into various chunks with some blood sprayed around. This is fairly mild compared to gore in other games, but it is present, and since you'll be fighting a lot of monsters, you'll also be seeing it a lot. Also, as mentioned in the above paragraphs, the Crimson is entirely themed around blood, flesh and gore.

The Crimson is hardly the only thing themed after flesh and blood however. Many of the monsters are also designed with this theme in mind, especially the Brain of Cthulhu and the Wall of Flesh. Other examples include the blood zombie and the dribbler, which are little more than animated blobs of gore.

On the upside, you can disable some of the gore via a toggle in the settings menu. This will cause defeated monsters to simply disappear in a puff of smoke instead of showing them bursting into pieces. However, this doesn't change any of the other things I just mentioned, like the monsters or infected parts of the world.
Lots of magic and magical creatures
The vast majority of the creatures you'll encounter in Terraria are based on folklore and mythology. Major examples include zombies, skeletons, harpies, and pixies, though there are many others. On top of this, both the monsters and the players can use magical spells. It's also possible for the player to brew magic potions that provide a number of different buffs.
Alcohol as a powerup
With the right items and furniture, it's possible to brew ale. This gives the player that drinks it some temporary benefits, though it also lowers your defense. During October, you can purchase another type of alcoholic drink from the Merchant. This one lowers the amount of damage you take at the cost of lowering the amount of damage you can inflict.
Mild nudity
It's really rather mild, especially when you consider just how small the sprites are, but the Dryad NPC is a woman that wears little more than an ivy bikini. On its own, this detail is barely worth a mention, but there's a painting you can find that shows her in a more suggestive pose.

Another character, the Nymph, is an enemy that pretends to be a lost girl. Only her long hair prevents her from being completely nude.
Mildly suggestive remarks
The various townsfolk that you encounter always have something to say when you interact with them. Some of these remarks can be a little on the suggestive side. Most of the time, these slightly off color comments come up when NPCs talk about an NPC of the opposite gender. It's also almost always the men that make suggestive remarks.

The issues with the dialogue come to a head during a Blood Moon, as the event also causes all of the women to become angry and irritable, as if they are experiencing PMS.
Lovecraftian themes
Quite a few of the game's monsters and events reference the lore of H. P. Lovecraft's famous cosmic horror stories. While it's not played for the horror factor, this element may make parents uncomfortable. The biggest offenders are some of the bosses, such as the Eye of Cthulhu, the Brain of Cthulhu, and the Moon Lord.

The Moon Lord is especially notable here, as it's clearly based on Cthulhu himself, and there is an evil cult that summons him. That said, the cult itself is just another group of enemies, as you don't see them perform any rites or rituals.