Developer: 505 Games
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Terraria finally brings the preeminent 2D take on Minecraft to mobile. While other games have taken this perspective on mobile (Junk Jack, which released a sequel the same day as this release, and the excellent The Blockheads), Terraria brings to the table a feel closer to RPGs and to Metroidvania-style adventures.

Terraria-3Yes there’s plenty of crafting and mining, and the basic language of the genre is well-represented here. There’s the need to mine materials and chop down trees to build better items and safe shelters among the vast, unknown world. But there’s also some more specific adventures to be had. There are deadly enemies, including some challenging bosses, to be taken on in Terraria. Finding them and being ready for them is the challenge. Plus, with randomly-generated worlds there’s no real way to know what’s next.

The action part: that’s what makes Terraria what it is. There’s something more to do than just “well, let’s figure it out!” like in other games. Granted, the process is the same, but the final goal isn’t. Terraria can be a bit obscure: the tutorial is a must. Seriously, it actually gives very important information about the mechanics that aren’t quite knowable through gameplay alone. Even the tutorial-adverse need to check it out.

Terraria-2Terraria is one of those games that I must implore to prospective players: play it on an iPad. The extra screen real estate just makes the game so much better to play. It’s playable on an iPhone, but it’s way too zoomed in, accurately placing items is a major pain (versus just a minor one on the iPad), the virtual joysticks are hard to use, and the “Retina” support just makes everything look kinda ugly. From further away, everything’s okay, and there’s zooming in on the iPad available too.

While tweaks were necessary to make the game work on mobile, and overall the startup process of not having to choose between a difficulty and a world size is better for first time players, the loss of multiplayer is disappointing. One, it’s something that other games like The Blockheads have added in, not to mention Minecraft proper experimenting with it. Two, I think that a big part of the fun of many of these games is to explore together with someone, to have the emergent narrative be discovered with someone else, to tell the ‘war stories’ of crazy things that happened. When other people can get involved, it’s just much more satisfying. Losing that from Terraria feels disappointing.

And really, while I think the heart of the game is well-represented here, considering what other titles native to mobile have been able to do Terraria feels rather lacking. There’s still value here, but it’s just not as much as it could have been.

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