Strenuous manual labour, fending off pests by day and a desperate quest for survival at night. Sound familiar? It probably does, but it’s not what you think. It’s the story of Terraria, a 2D platforming-based RPG. Seems a bit odd to put forward an indie game as a contender in a year that’s given us many remarkable AAA games, right? Well, here’s why…
A large part of the game’s appeal is its easy-to-grasp nature. Natural progression may not seem immediate, but you’re constantly building towards an endgame of sorts; with the accessible mechanics as well as various bosses and events at certain intervals serving to keep you enthralled.
While the game is easy on the eyes and doesn’t draw a lot of attention, what is it then that’s made me put it forward as a Game Of The Year challenger? What does it have that the others haven’t? The answer is, in some respects, its replayability.
Terraria is the sort of game that, while you certainly can play it alone, it’s best experienced sharing your mining adventures with others, and its multiplayer really shines, as you race about the world, killing enemy monsters and bosses, exploring caves and dungeons, building new forts and even fighting against each other in PvP.
The sense of exploration is what makes this game great. The thrill of finally hitting a vein or two of silver for the first time, giving you the chance to return to base to upgrade your weapons or armour, is a big early-game draw, and going deeper to find even better materials is what has you continuously coming back. This is more notable with the post-release inclusion of medium-core and hardcore character choices, and it will have you questioning whether the risk of pressing on for greater rewards is worth it if you wind up making a mistake and dropping down a 30-tile-deep crack in the ground.
Terraria’s one of those games that is easy to miss the first time around, but it’s well worth picking up, even now. With a strong community of players, and near-infinite possibilities to be had in terms of creation, it’s one of my favourite games of 2011, and I can see myself still playing it well into 2012 and beyond.