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Arts in Review

Cascade Arcade: Terraria, updated

I have a love of side-scrollers and a love of sandbox games, and Terraria is the rare cross between those genres.

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By Dessa Bayrock (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: October 9, 2013

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I have a love of side-scrollers and a love of sandbox games, and Terraria is the rare cross between those genres.

The game originally hit the scene in the fall of 2011 and promptly became the best seller on Steam for six straight days. As of January 2013, it had sold 2,000,000 copies – not bad for a humble indie game!

Terraria seems simple, and that’s where it has its power: it can be all things to all people. Do you like adventuring and fighting monsters? You can do that. Do you like building cities and houses and customizing each abode and convincing NPCs to move in? You can do that. Do you like collecting unique items and flaunting your treasure hauls to your friends? You can do that. Do you like digging really, really deep holes in the ground? You can literally go to hell and back – assuming the firebats don’t get you first. There’s so much to do that you’re bound to get addicted; once you get bored of playing one aspect, you can move on to the next.

Despite the sheer amount of content already in the game (especially if you play in a “large”-sized world), it was one of the great tragedies of gaming when the makers of Terraria, now rich on the unexpected spoils of their creation, announced they would not be updating a single thing. Every player had the finished game: there would be no downloadable content, no patches, no additions to the game.

So the only new content available for players since the release was through player-produced modifications (which, let’s be honest, are a little skeezy even at the best of times).

Until last week.

October 3 marked a glorious day in history: the release of an official update for Terraria.

The instant an updated world loads, you can see the difference.

Terraria, like Minecraft, works on a block-based system. This leads both games to look naturally blocky (although Terraria is closer to an nostalgiac and quaintly sweet 16-bit world whereas Minecraft is pixelated and ugly as hell. But I digress.) With the new update, the blocks of Terraria are a little smoother and less, well, blocky: the trees are crooked and more natural-looking, and blocks of different heights now sometimes spawn with a diagonal block linking them – leading to a smoother and prettier world.

As the final, perfect touch to this smoothed-out atmosphere, character avatars have an easier time navigating the world: they can run up an incline of one block, where before you the player had to jump them over each and every increase. The update also introduces rope, which makes getting up and down things hella easier – especially considering how much of a trial it is to construct a grappling hook, which is the tool you need to get around with any kind of efficiency.

There are other cool additions, too, which don’t need much description. Giant, explorable trees; new boss battles (including a giant bee); new magic items, potions, and weapons; new biomes to explore, with characteristics that continue even if you go underground; new materials to build things with; new monsters to fight off, like undead Vikings; cute touches, like spawning zombies wearing raincoats when the weather is less than nice.

The only problem I really had with the update, in fact, was the weather. In the original game, the sun always rose in the morning. In the new version, it might be an overcast day, or a rainy day, or even a snowy day – a nice touch, but one that’s a little too close to real life for comfort. It’s depressing to wake up to a rainy day, whether it’s in your own bed or your character’s house.

In any case, I support and adore this update at least 97 per cent. Terraria is available for PC through Steam at around $10, or through Xbox at about $20, or even as an app for Android, a transition that works surprisingly well.  No matter what your preferred gaming platform, I highly recommend picking up a copy.

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