Terraria Review

Terraria is just as magical and content-rich on consoles as it is on the PC, although the controls aren't ideal for every situation.

Many games set out to be a sandbox--an interactive world filled with options and untapped potential--but Terraria embodies this concept in a way few games do. The game drops you into a 2D pixelated world with a handful of tools and tells you to explore, dig, build, and, oh yeah, survive. Now that the adventure is on consoles, there's one more way to lose hours mining for ore, and you can do it with a friend or three on the same screen.

Sometimes exploring is more fun with friends, especially if they're on the same couch as you.

Since its release on the PC in 2011, Terraria has sometimes been referred to as a two-dimensional Minecraft, and though that comparison is somewhat unfair, you'll notice the structural similarities between the two games straight away. Progressing through Terraria means chopping down a lot of trees, digging a lot of dirt, mining a lot of stone, and fighting a lot of monsters. Just about everything you cut through with your pickaxe, axe, sword, or hammer provides a resource with which to build and craft new items. Wood can be fashioned into shelter or platforms. Ore can be used to build armor and tools. Even cobwebs are valuable for making fabric, which in turn can help you craft things like flags or robes. There are a wealth of opportunities in the world, and it all starts with a few tools and some trees. What follows is up to you.

While the PC release dropped you into a randomly generated world with no instructions, the console version of Terraria includes a tutorial that gets you up to speed with gathering resources, changing the environment, and building shelter, all of which are essential skills if you are going to survive your first night. It also gives you a primer on crafting items such as torches and walls, which are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how many things you eventually have the means to create, including impenetrable armor, magic potions, fancy furniture, and boots that let you double-jump.

It will take a long time before you can build anything even remotely this cool, but the journey there is very satisfying.

Even so, Terraria is a game you might want to play with a guide close at hand, whether it's a more experienced friend or a source on the Internet. While the game's crafting system is good at telling you what you can build with what you have in your inventory, it's not always great at telling you what might be crafted if you find additional resources. Also, the game's bosses and non-player characters tend to have very specific summoning criteria, which you're unlikely to stumble into without countless hours of exploration. An in-game guide (the first NPC you encounter in the game) is there to consult for some early help and crafting advice, but his menus can be a bit unwieldy, and his tips cover only so much.

Then again, maybe you don't want the help. There's certainly a lot of joy in the untainted discovery--in choosing a direction, saying "I'm going to go that way," and seeing what happens. Maybe you'll dig deep and find hidden caves and treasure. Maybe you'll journey upward and find a floating island. So what if you don't discover how to get the best armor. So what if you don't fight every type of monster. Maybe that's not what the game is about for you, and that's OK. Terraria lets you play how you want to play.

It's the sense of discovery and the promise of new rewards that help make Terraria such an engrossing experience. It's the exciting feeling of "Oh, I've never seen this material before. I wonder what I can craft with it?" that serves as a great incentive to keep you playing until the wee hours of the morning. You always feel like you're making progress, and the rewards (even the purely cosmetic ones) tend to be worthwhile.

Terraria's bosses are giant, menacing, and deadly.

When playing with a console controller as opposed to a mouse and keyboard, you get an interesting trade-off. While most actions in the game are faster and more fluidly performed on the PC (including item switching, inventory management, and, most importantly, building), the acts of digging, putting up walls, and grappling (with a craftable grappling hook) are actually faster and more comfortable with the controller.

Digging with a controller in particular is a welcome time-saver, because you do so much of it during your time in Terraria. By aiming in a direction with the right stick and holding down the action button, you automatically dig a hole forward that's just big enough for you to walk through, making it much easier to pick a direction and simply explore than by using the individual pixel digging of the PC version. If you find you need the added fidelity that a mouse might provide, however, you can click in the right stick to get a more free-moving cursor (this is particularly useful when building structures).

If you don't want to explore alone, you can easily gather four people around a single TV for split-screen multiplayer, which works very well provided you have the screen real estate to accommodate a quartet of adventurers. You also have the option of going online with up to eight people, but there are some unfortunate limitations. Unlike the PC version, which lets you run a permanent server but requires an IP address, the console version swaps these pros and cons: you can't create a permanent server, but it's also easy to invite people from your friends list into your world. In some sense this might be for the best, since your friends are perhaps less likely to gleefully destroy your hard work and steal all your carefully crafted items, but it does make it a bit harder to find people to play with if your friends don't own the game. There is no quick match or lobby option.

Don't dig too far without being properly equipped. You might find you're not quite ready for a hornet attack.

Along with the new controls and split-screen multiplayer, there is some new content that, at least at launch, is exclusive to the console versions of Terraria. This content comes in the form of some new armor variations, a few new uninteresting enemies, and a new boss. While the new zombie boss may sound enticing, none of this content is especially exciting when compared to everything else that's already in the game. Also new is an auto-drawing map, which is an extremely helpful addition for new players but slightly dilutes the more do-it-yourself nature of the PC version.

Even without the additions, however, Terraria could not be accused of lacking content. While deceptively simple at the start, Terraria has many layers of depth that are dug up only with hours of playing. Even the "small" world option could take many hours to fully explore, and that's not even on the unlockable hard difficulty level, which adds new items and enemies.

Terraria is a great game packed with content regardless of where you play it. Your platform of preference may depend on what you hope to do: If you want to build magnificent structures above- and belowground and show them off with a dedicated server, you will have a faster, easier time on the PC. If you simply want to explore and fight monsters with friends (maybe while sitting in the same room), then the console version might be more your speed. Be careful not to get too comfortable on your couch, though, because when Terraria sucks you in, you might find yourself digging and crafting for far more hours than you originally intended.

The Good
Massive worlds with freedom to explore how you want
Plenty of items to both craft and discover
Easy to invite friends along for the journey
Tutorial and map make the learning curve more manageable
The Bad
Console controls take getting used to
No easy way to create permanent servers
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Terraria

About the Author

Britton Peele is a freelance writer for GameSpot and a Digital Entertainment Editor for The Dallas Morning News. Find hi

Discussion

19 comments
kamranmackey
kamranmackey

Love this game. It's just amazing. But you guys should update the PC review of Terraria, since you guys last reviewed the PC version in 2011, and a huge update just came out like 10 days ago. 

loudbill13
loudbill13

PVP for this game kind of sucks since magic and ranged are OP against melee.

CaptMarvel24
CaptMarvel24

i love this game. i never did like Minecraft or games like it. but a friend told me to try this one. i tried it and was hooked the minute i started. Love it.

PodXCOM
PodXCOM

Best game I ever played in a long time.

cheapskate212
cheapskate212

i just played the demo and i was sold i bought it

DinoBuster
DinoBuster

I never could get into Minecraft, but the combination of building, fighting enemies and bosses, and discovering/crafting all kinds of weapons, armors, and items comes together really well in this game.

Poinciana
Poinciana

Where do you download the official PC version ? I tried to Google it, but got to many suspicious looking sites and don't want to get hacked.

Fryboy101
Fryboy101

I love this game! while minecraft is heavy on creation and building, this one seems to lean towards survival and exploration. It also feels a lot more rewarding with the sheer number of items you can find just by cave dwelling

slainta
slainta

2D. Really? First the explosion of first person view games,then the 8 bits like graphics. now the 2D games. Is the videogame clock going backward?

smoothyplum26
smoothyplum26

I'm thinking about getting this when I get 20 back on the 12th from Sony but I've heard a lot about how some of the enemies are brutally difficult and can kill with one hit. That's what has me on the fence.

HADES2001
HADES2001

@slainta 2D was never gone us old folks still prefer it over those crappy 3D games give me a castlevania 8/16-bit over a god of war any time

smoothyplum26
smoothyplum26

Thank you guys, I will buy on the 12th then.

Fryboy101
Fryboy101

@smoothyplum26 from what i've played, i havent run into any that can kill in one hit, but there are huge monsters you can summon and fight that are pretty tough, but it never really feels cheap with all the items you can find and fight with

aaronayu
aaronayu

@smoothyplum26 there is no penalty to death other than loss of gold, the enemies are as hard as how prepared you are for the encounter.


slainta
slainta

@HADES2001 @slainta I might be older than you. My first platform has been a C64. I've quit playing games for years because I was sick of 2D ugly games. I came back playing only when the Playstation with its gorgeous 3D games became available. With the PS2 and its library making the best generation ever. Now it feels like it's going backward. That at least is MY feeling.

Coldpain
Coldpain

@aaronayu @smoothyplum26 Actually Aaron the death penalty is dependent upon which type of character you create. There are three tiers: Softcore (You lose half of your money on death) Mediumcore (You lose all money and items on death) and Hardcore (Death is permanent and requires the creation of a new character to continue playing).


OfficerTiutslit
OfficerTiutslit

@slainta @HADES2001 How the heck is it going backwards? 2D games are in the minority - and it's specifically because of the horrible early attempts at 3D that they are appreciated when they pop up today. Most of the acclaimed and pushed 2D games are hardly big budget things anyways - mostly relegated to handhelds (where they perform beautifully) or as downloadable titles. The best platformer in YEARS was Rayman Origins which took place on the 2D plane.

Games that focus on 2D/pixelated graphics are some of the best looking out there - they're highly refined, colourful and when we're talking about games like Origins, Terreria, Fez, etc - we're talking about games that are inventive and highly critically acclaimed. 

Terraria More Info

Follow
  • First Released
    • Android
    • iPhone/iPod
    • + 9 more
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • PlayStation Vita
    • PS3
    • PS4
    • Unix/Linux
    • Windows Mobile
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Terraria is a side-scrolling, action-adventure sandbox game with an emphasis on crafting and exploration set in vast and vibrant worlds.
    8.2
    Average User RatingOut of 1146 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Terraria
    Developed by:
    Re-Logic, Engine Software
    Published by:
    505 Games, Re-Logic, Merge Games, Spike Chunsoft
    Genres:
    Platformer, 2D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms