"A Time Suck"
Three simple words that can be used to describe what Terraria ultimately is. It has been likened as being "A 2D Minecraft", but such a description cannot adequately describe the game. Sure, it shares many of the same traits such as the fact that you mine through dirt, stone, and other elements to get where you really want to go, and find valuable natural resources. You can build elaborate two-dimensional structures, or just stick to the bare minimums. Your goals are similar as well, mine the necessary ingredients to create the best gear in the game, and explore explore explore, and when you're done, create a new world to explore some more.
Terraria separates itself from the "2D Minecraft" comparison by its focus on the sidescrolling combat. Indeed, while its 3D counterpart has some combat elements, Terraria makes it one of the primary focal points of the game with a large assortment of weapons, both melee, ranged, and magical in nature. You need to fight numerous types of enemies which range from mobs of slimes, goblins, and zombies, right up to bosses. Indeed, in order to get much done in the game you'll have to deal with the near constant threat of enemy spawns. Fear not though, as killing these mobs will net you money to buy things from various vendors, materials for you to make new things, and even usable equipment on occasions. Indeed, the best stuff in the game tends to be dropped by high level enemies, or made with materials dropped by same.
Terraria ultimately brushes aside accusations of being a "2D Minecraft", and shows that it can stand very strongly on its own. All the above plus strong post-release developer support implementing bug fixes and new content means this game will keep going strong for a long time to come, especially at its low price of admission ($9.99 USD Currently).
Dungeons of Dredmor Review
Today is a good day to die! Or, more specifically, I suppose, today is a good day for roguelikes. With Minecraft slowly evolving closer and closer toward the mold, Ed McMillen (of Team Meat fame) taking similar cues in his new game The Binding of Isaac, and the cruelly inspired nuances of Realm of the Mad God all currently soaking the limelight, it seems that ye ole roguelike is finally getting out of the basement. And now, from the darkest corners of said basement, comes The Dungeons of Dredmor, one of the most blatant and bloody entertaining stress-inducers I have played in some time.
If you are unfamiliar with the roguelike genre, let me break it down for you. Roguelikes were games of a bygone era where you create a character to run through a turn-based, randomly generated dungeon to test your luck. Named and based after the 1980 Unix game Rogue, they sported ASCII graphics and were therefore quite unapproachable to the masses. If you played Blizzard’s ubiquitous Diablo, which I am assuming you have, you are familiar with the great great grandson of the roguelike. However, where Diablo was pretty, easy, and approachable, roguelikes from back in the day, like Moria and Angband, were unrelenting jerks. Those who did bite, however, were treated to one of the more fulfilling approaches to gaming; a place where you actually became attached to your character and all of your decisions carried an additional heavy amount of weight. This was because of another staple of the genre; permadeath. Oh, and they didn’t pull punches. Drink the wrong potion, set off the wrong trap, attempt the wrong kill and you were dead… DEAD, DEAD, DEAD…. Forever. You had to roll a new character and start over from the first level of the dungeon. I remember in a particularly epic game of Moria I was playing years ago, finally finding the Balrog, only to be smote terribly. I never played it again, as it seemed wrong somehow. I would never top Rendo Gnollen, my beloved character. This style of gameplay built a strong sense of attachment, as well as paranoia. Gaslamp Games’ Dungeons of Dredmor comes perfectly from this pedigree.
Dredmor’s attempt at being approachable is much more authentic to its roots. It streamlines the gameplay and adds a pretty coat of vintage Lucas Arts inspired graphics while remaining true to the essentials. The dungeons are random, the traps and monsters are deadly, the fighting system is strategic and turn-based, and the death is permanent. Well, mostly… Gaslamp does allow for you to turn off permadeath, but…. Why? You would be missing out on the core theme of the game. STRESS!!! And believe me, the first time you find yourself in a Monster Zoo with nowhere to run, you will know the true nature of the beast that is Dungeons of Dredmor.
Dredmor would possibly be too much to handle if it were not for another one of its tactics to remain approachable: Humor. The game is presented in a tongue-in-cheek parody style. The story is laid out up front. The Dark Lord Dredmor is back from being banished long ago to once again wreak havoc upon the land. A hero is called for… however, no one comes… I guess you will have to do. From that spring board comes a barrage of references, in-jokes, ironic commentary on gaming, and silly monsters and items. When you pray to Inconsequentia, the Goddess of Pointless Sidequests, transmogrify items in the Horadric Lutefisk Cube to give in offering to the Lutefisk God, or simply walk around with a traffic cone on your head for protection, you must be playing a unique game. The music is also worth noting as it fluxes between epic Pirates of the Caribbean gusto, elevator (to hell) music, and dirges I can only describe as being played by a skeleton on organ.
The gameplay itself shines as well. There are 34 skills you can pick between when starting out and each of those has various levels of progression. Instead of picking a class from a list of archetypes, this system allows you to custom-make your adventurer. The results can be wonderful, such as my Vampiric Viking Astrologist who duel wielded axes in heavy plate! While some of them do seem unbalanced (though a quick look at Gaslamp’s forums shows there are various opinions on this) there are more than enough unique choices and strategies at hand. The turn based structure of combat allows for some thought and planning, and also layers it on while you watch yourself die. I have had a surrounded moment where I knew for a fact I was going to die within a few turns and fought tooth and nail to survive. Good stuff that is, going down Boromir style! Much better than dying from stepping in poison left from your own crossbow bolt after a kill…
I do have a couple gripes about the game though. There are UI things that would improve the game immensely, such as scalable elements, the ability to move all windows around, and a more informative quick-sell option. Also, the character sheet is fairly elaborate with little to no explanation of things. You will often find a new weapon or armour piece and try and grasp which one is better without really having a clue. Speaking of weapons and armour, I would also like it if what you were wearing and using showed up on your character. While Gaslamp states on their website this would be near impossible to do retroactively, it is truly a shame that you cannot see how ridiculous you character looks wearing a one-armed leather jacket, Harry Potter glasses, and flippy floppies, while carrying a chainsaw axe. Oh well… maybe in the sequel.
Those small gripes aside, Dungeons of Dredmor is definitely worth your time, especially considering its five buck entry fee. I give it a tithe of 9 out of 10 lutefisk!
By Travis Galloway
Note to Travis and Kage, we are still waiting on one of you to accept our steam friend requests. Once we have that, we will be gifting you both a preorder of From Dust.