Terraria by 505 Games icon

Terraria ($4.99) by 505 Games is the iOS port of the popular action adventure/RPG game that was once only on Steam, Xbox Live, and PlayStation Network. If you’ve never played the game before, then this is a great way to get introduced to it.

I’ve always wanted to play Terraria after I heard some pretty good things about it, so I was pretty ecstatic to hear the news this week that it would be coming on iOS. Now that it’s here, was it worth it? Let’s find out. Again, I have never played the game before, so I’m a complete Terraria newbie. Perhaps those who have experienced the game already will think differently.

Terraria by 505 Games screenshot

The visuals are definitely nostalgic, as they are completely done in 16-bit. While you’re actually playing the game, this works out great. But I did notice that sometimes the game menus or text looked a bit “fuzzy” on the screen, like it wasn’t optimized for the Retina screen. This kind of bothered me, but it’s a small nitpick of mine. The game’s soundtrack is done very well, adding to the adventuring experience.

If you’re familiar with games like this, such as Junk Jack and Minecraft, then you will know that the worlds you can explore are randomly generated, so no game will ever be the same. Users are able to create and completely customize their character’s appearance, and have multiple worlds for each.

When you start out in your world, there will be an NPC nearby that will help guide you through your journey. Of course, you can skip the tutorial stuff and learn things on your own, which is more fun.

To control your character, there are two joysticks on the bottom left and right. The one on the left will control your movement — slide it left or right to move in that direction, or up to jump, or down to go through platforms. The joystick on the right will allow you to aim where you want to swing your sword, axe, or pickaxe. When performing an action, a circle will envelop your character, and you can basically chip away at anything that is within the receptacle. I’m not sure I really liked this part, as I’m used to basically just chipping away at dirt or wood by tapping on it, as you do in the Junk Jack games. Of course, I’ll probably just get over it with more play. You can also zoom in on any part of the terrain by tapping on it and dragging, revealing a pop-up window that goes away once you release your finger. However, be warned that if you do this on high-up spots, the window won’t be viewable since it goes off the screen.

What I do like about Terraria, though, is the fact that it is much more than just a game where you build things and worry about only your character’s survival. Since Terraria combines elements of an RPG and an action adventure game, you can actually build a safe refuge for other NPCs, who will eventually come to your world after you make some progress (start with making some homes). These NPCs will vary, but they will provide you with advantages, such as having your own Merchant, Arms Dealer, Nurse, and more. You’ll need their services if you ever hope to defeat the five end-game bosses that the game has.

Terraria by 505 Games screenshot

You will need to gather resources, of course, and craft components for making buildings, furnishings, and even weapons to survive against the deadly enemies out in the wilderness. Terraria, like other games of this nature, features a dynamic day/night cycle, so you will need to move quickly if you want to survive through the night. Your health starts out at 100 with a new game, and you can see how you’re currently doing with the hearts in the top right. You will find crystal hearts deep in the earth that will increase your health, but you will need hammers to get to them. If you run out of health, your character will end up losing coins (these are earned by defeating enemies). There are several different difficulty levels with a different penalty for dying in each, but you will only have the softcore difficulty to start with in this game (I’d imagine that the other two, Mediumcore and Hardcore),

Once you have gathered many resources, you will see your toolbar at the top start to fill up. Tapping on an item will change what you’re currently holding, and if you tap on the “…” button, you are able to access your full inventory and the crafting manager. The items will be split up into categories for easy access, and anything you can currently craft will be tappable. Items that you don’t have the resources for will be grayed out. To change the items that appear in your toolbar, just drag the ones you want into the top five squares of your inventory — these are what will appear all the time on the screen while you play. To change your character’s current equipment, tap on the character tab in the top right — this is where you can equip more armor to survive, vanity items, and accessories.

I found the game to be pretty easy to understand when it comes to where everything is, but it does take some time to get used to the controls. The game starts out pretty slow and picks up quickly at night, but once you get the hang of things, this definitely provides a rewarding experience. The thing that made me excited to try it was the RPG action adventure aspect, and it’s a wonderful addition to the sandbox game formula. I just wish that the visuals were a bit more crisp on my iPhone, and the text wasn’t so fuzzy. Also, the zoom-in bug should be fixed as well. The iOS version is also missing multiplayer, which was present in the original versions. Hopefully this can be added soon. Besides those, the game is proving to be a good time killer when I have some time to spare.

If you have not experienced Terraria for yourself yet, I recommend giving it a try. You can find Terraria in the App Store as a universal download for $4.99.