Let's get all of the misconceptions about Terraria out of the way immediately. Minecraft and Terraria are two very different games. Though they certainly share a few of the same elements, such as building and customizing, Terraria is a lot more combat-oriented and plays more like a side-scrolling action-adventure game. Now let's talk about why you need to play this game!
Terraria is like one big playpen. The first step in getting your hands dirty with this virtual toy is to create your very own in-game character. The options are a bit limited here--strange considering the vision of the game--but there are enough customizable attributes to make your character stand out. You can choose a hairstyle, hair color, skin color, and clothing color, and then it's off to the world of Terraria.
You begin your life in Terraria with the bare essentials. An axe for chopping wood, a pickaxe for mining, and a guide giving you some basic knowledge are all you have at your disposal upon beginning your adventure. You must use these tools to learn about your environments and begin collecting resources. At first, your custom world may seem massive and even a bit daunting, but after about an hour or so of play, you should be comfortable exploring the land.
Your first course of action should be to create your very own dwelling. Wood can be chopped from trees and can be used to make all sorts of items. You can craft a work bench which can in turn be used to make walls and doors for your very own abode. And in order to have a community of thriving NPCs, it is your job to build a few houses with walls, a light source, a door, and a chair. Of course, getting NPCs to show up to your town relies on whether or not you fulfill a handful of requirements, as well.
During the day, you can hunt slimes and chop wood or pick mushrooms (health). Along the way you'll come across plentiful resources and possibly even money. Once nightfall comes, though, you're going to want to get your character home because zombies and Demon Eyes roam the environment. And as you've probably guessed, these creatures are far deadlier than slimes. Of course, braving the land at night has its perks. Stars frequently fall to the ground, and collecting 10 of these increases your mana. Zombies and Demon Eyes offer more cash than slimes, so if you want to stock up to buy some sweet swag when the merchant moves in, killing these nocturnal beings pays off.
Not all of the action takes place above ground. By using your pickaxe, you can burrow deep beneath the depths of the earth. This is where Terraria gets extremely interesting. Underground are various caves with monsters and treasure. You can collect money, crystal hearts to increase your health, and ore. This mineral can be combined with other resources to make even better weapons and items. Upgrading your weaponry is key to succeeding while engaging in combat. You can also craft some heavy duty armor and add an extra layer of protection for your character. Digging beneath the surface seems to go on forever at times, but it is incredibly addictive to reach insane depths and encounter new monsters.
Aside from basic monsters, Terraria also has a couple of major bosses. These battles are tough and can only be beaten if you have good twitch reflexes and strong weapons. It's this constant emphasis on exploration and combat that really makes Terraria stand out. Though it may be a sandbox game--encouraging you to do what you want in whatever manner or pace you choose--there are plenty of reasons to go exploring and hunting, and doing so makes the whole experience even more rewarding.
You can explore on your own or you can join up with other players and check out their custom worlds. Up to eight players can team up in chat-enabled sessions, and this is definitely a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the game relies on servers, which makes the process of joining other users' games a bit tedious a lot of the time. It took several tries and constant scanning of the official Terraria forums for me to finally find a non-Hamachi server that I could join. Another issue that arises when playing online is the unpredictability of the other players. If you play online a lot, chances are you'll run into gamers who are complete jerks and like to mess around by destroying players' creations with bombs. If you've got a group of friends to play with, you won't have to worry about any of that nonsense.
The controls in Terraria may take a little getting used to for some players. You use the mouse to move an on-screen cursor and make selections, move items in your inventory, and attack. The WASD keys are used to move, while the space bar makes your character jump. If you frequently play PC games using the mouse and keyboard, you should have no problem getting the hang of Terraria. If you're more accustomed to a traditional controller, however, it will definitely take an hour or so to really get the hang of things. Once you get it, you should have no problem taking out enemies and moving freely about the environments as you enjoy everything that this beautiful game has to offer.
Terraria features a charming 16-bit visual style that presents well thanks to the use of bold colors and cheery sprites. NPCs look friendly and welcoming while enemies and bosses look fierce and sometimes even a bit creepy. Due to the use of pixelated graphics, pretty much any PC can run Terraria, which should be good news for people like myself who don't exactly have the best graphics technology on their computers. But the visuals do more than just allow anyone to play. By featuring a retro art style, Terraria harks back to games like Metroid and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. It doesn't play entirely like them, but the visual style coupled with the action-adventure gameplay certainly put this game right up there with those classics.
Terraria can be enjoyed in several ways. You can treat the game like a classic action-adventure game and explore its depths, rigorously searching for materials and hunting enemies. You can take your time and see the sights at your leisure. You can even play architect and build houses, mansions, and lairs galore. Terraria is your sandbox, and you can play in it however you like. Re-Logic has given gamers the opportunity to either enjoy Terraria as a side-scrolling action-adventure title or like a toy that they can play with for hours on end. Either way you look at it, Terraria is a sandbox that you won't be able to get away from regardless of whether or not you've already invested entire days.