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Digging into Terraria unearths a hidden gem

By in Culture/Technology

The Phoenix (UBC Okanagan)

What, this old place? It's only the guest house.

KELOWNA, B.C. (CUP) — In the beginning, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing in Terraria. There is no tutorial — instead the developers plopped my 2D self onto the surface of the world and left me to fend for myself.

My character was equipped with nothing but an axe and a pickaxe. I wandered around for a bit saving bunnies from hostile jelly monsters, and then finally realized I could probably use the axe on a tree. Before I knew it, I was making my first house out of wood. The way construction works in this game is fascinating, because blocks of dirt, wood, or whatever you happen to have do not conform to the laws of gravity. Your work doesn’t have to make gravitational sense — rarely does it ever in Terraria. After slapping a door and a workbench onto my house, I started making a huge staircase out of dirt into the sky for kicks. I was hooked!

And then the zombie came.

I tried to build faster, but the zombies knew what was up. They were climbing my stairs, and before I knew it, I was swinging my pickaxe in their general direction with little success. I got knocked out of the sky and fell to my doom. After my collision with the hard earth, my disgruntled character respawned outside the crude wooden house I had abandoned earlier.

I went inside and opened my inventory, and realized I had a copper shortsword sitting at the bottom of my inventory. Those zombies (now outside my house, waiting for me to come outside) were going to get served.

Fighting monsters with the equipment you have made (or earned) is satisfying. The number of items players can make with the workbench, the anvil (which comes later), and other crafting stations is continually expanding as the Terraria developers, Re-Logic, continue to dish out new patches. There are many weapons and pieces of armour to collect and use, and there are useful accessories to find around the world.

Some weapons and other precious items are exclusively found in treasure chests, which are scattered underground and on floating islands high in the sky. Finding those treasure chests is never a cakewalk, because different types of monsters will spawn depending on your location. For example, a man-eating plant kept eating my face off whenever I explored an underground jungle-like area. I learned from the guide (a strange NPC who seems to be living in my house) that if I have enough vines and jungle spores, I can make a thorn chakram, which does a lot more damage than my sword. Vines drop off of those face-eating monsters, so I’ll have to make my way back down there and show them (eventually) who is boss.

Terraria also sports a very fun multiplayer mode whereby you or a friend can host a server and invite who you want to join in. The maximum amount of players per server is eight. I managed to hook up my world onto a local server, and my brother joined in. He laughed at my terrible wooden house and then proceeded to mine his way underground. We found some veins of iron and silver, which we later used (with great satisfaction) to make an anvil. Unfortunately, Terraria servers can be a real pain to set up, especially if your friend isn’t on the same wireless network as you are. There is confusion in regards to firewalls, IP addresses, port forwarding and all sorts of headache-inducing traumas. I managed to get it going by reading through some help forums — reassuring, considering I am not much of a techie whiz.

Terraria is available to download for 10 dollars on Steam. It is well worth the money, considering the gameplay is addictive and debatably endless. You can make as many worlds as you want and move your characters between them with ease. Treasure chests can be used as storage, so the amount of stuff you can keep from your travels is infinite. Ultimately, Terraria is a fun and immersive experience that will leave you mining and chopping for hours on end.

image: supplied

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