If you were ever left wondering, Terraria is a game about adventuring to the ends of the World and defeating villainous bosses along the way. That is how the tutorial succinctly lures you in, coupled with the game’s pixellated charm.
With more than 18 million copies sold worldwide, Re-Logic’s action-adventure sandbox arrives on Wii U several months after Nintendo 3DS. It scratches the same itch as Minecraft Wii U Edition, and, as with Mojang’s enormously successful phenomenon, the only real limit to this bold adventure is your imagination.
While the gameplay experience is similar to Minecraft in that it sees you fending for yourself through resource gathering, building rickety constructions, and slaying marauding enemies, the difference here is that it is played from a side-scrolling perspective.
The procedurally-generated worlds that you wander are filled with plenty to keep you occupied, but the time that you spend with the game early on will largely revolve around making your character stronger to improve their chances of survival. Monsters roam the lands and it is especially important at night to make sure that you have shelter to hide in.
The more hours that you put in, the deeper the experience becomes thanks to a crafting system with particularly rewarding breadth. Early on this will largely let you create items that will aid your survival, whether that be torches, bows, or doors. But soon you will strengthen your character’s resolve by crafting more potent weapons, sturdier armour, and reliable tools. Those that like how their character looks in a certain suit of armour can place their favourites in vanity slots while equipping more hardened alternatives underneath.
The crafting interface isn’t an area where Terraria discovers particular strength, but putting it to use is certainly far easier thanks to the Wii U GamePad. The touch screen will let you move far more quickly between menus, dragging items and equipment around your inventory as necessary. This can all be done while the game continues to be displayed on your TV screen, and, while Off-TV Play is supported, the main display presents a far wider field of view.
The 16-bit aesthetic works well, but the accompanying soundtrack largely underwhelms with no particularly memorable melodies to note. I encountered no performance issues in the Wii U version, and it was particularly encouraging to see that both offline and online multiplayer is supported. That allows four adventurers to join forces in local split-screen or as many as eight players to join together online.
The player determines whether they make their game available to others online, but one restriction is that only those on your Friend List can join. While positioned as a co-operative experience, players can activate a Player vs. Player (PVP) mode where they can choose team colours and hunt each other down – their location and health only being visible to teammates.
There is immeasurable depth to Terraria, a 39-strong list of accomplishments helping to objectify the experience that dares to brave it. Richly rewarding at every turn thanks to the developer’s unrestrictive design, it excels in freedom – the player let loose on their own adventure to quell the monstrous creatures that inhabit the world around them.