So there are games that you hear about through friends, through sales, through the magical ether of the universe (known as Steam), and eventually you just have to crack and give it a try. I know Terraria has been out for a long time now, and you can chalk that up to my relative unease with playing simple games. Because that is what I thought Terraria was, a simple game. The first time I heard about it, I think I was actually playing on a Minecraft server (which fits with my FPS-centric worldview), and I guffawed loudly and replied: "Yeah, like I want to play Minecraft in 2D and from the side, that is just silly!!"
Of course enough time has passed that I will have to eat my words. Because since Terraria's release in May of last year, I have had some time to sit down and play my way through the game. What can I say? It is fun. More fun than I thought it would be. And I loved the format more than I expected I would. I won't say that my FPS-centric world view has changed, (because it hasn't) but I will say that I am not going to pull wisecracks about some games without better info ahead of time.
Because eating my words gives me indigestion and a wicked case of the garlic farts. (Or maybe that was the Olive Garden I had for dinner last night, I am not sure).
Anyway, Terraria is a side-scroller-ish platform-ish game where your inch high character has to dig, fight, build, eat, drink, and dig some more in order to survive. It is a bit like Minecraft in the sense that there are tools, and blocks, and you have to spend a lot of time looking for materials to build things, and like Minecraft, there are baddies to fight and to be killed by. But there are so many things that are Terraria's own as well, like the sheer array of weapons, armor, crafting choices... many of which were long around before Minecraft's versions. The sprite based world has its own quirks and challenges that any gamer would enjoy. It is a lot of fun to play and explore.
I do have some minor gripes though. While the gameplay was fun, and the questing had its high and low points, there are points in the game where you ask yourself "what the hell am I supposed to do now?" There is a NPC Guide character that does help occassionally, but unless you like grinding to figure out the next step, you will probably cheat a bit and look it up on the damn wiki. And I will be honest, the Terraria Wiki was a god send in working my way through the game. If you like discovering things on your own, then you have my praise and my good tidings. But if you are like me and like to have some concrete objectives once in a freaking while, then I suggest you do the same.
Another gripe (they are few and I am nitpicking), is what I like to call the "weapon plateau". The weapons and combat were very difficult early on, and then at about 50% through the first round of the game (pre-hard mode), all of sudden, the combat was cake. I killed one of the bosses five times in a row without any effort or issue. A fellow game player was shocked that I hadn't died at least once. Maybe a I got lucky. But then I continued on in the same manner. I don't know if I just had the right array of weapons to make it easy, but it just didn't feel balanced.
Don't get me wrong. I died. A lot. But it was often from being an idiot more than anything. Lava is not fun. Water is a bitch too. And the Jungle biome is painful if you go at it too early. But at least you can collect the tombstones for your own macabre collection! The game is a sandbox... you can do pretty much anything! As a cute little sprite! Yay! Dressed as Doctor Who no less! Double Yay! (I'm a bit of a fan of the Doctor.) The biomes themselves are varied enough to satisfy many play styles, and the bosses are nice bookends to each part of the game.
Is it worth 10 bucks? Yes, absolutely. Is it a game you play for a loooooong time? Probably not, but it is a great low-stress game that can be played pretty much any time. And the multiplayer is fun if you can swing it.
So go get it!