A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Terraria is a sandbox-style mining, crafting, and building game similar to Minecraft. There is a bit of mild monster combat that involves slaying one-eyed flyers, slimes, and shuffling zombies, but the focus here is on exploration, discovery, and creation. Kids will need to use reason and call upon their understanding of the real world to figure out how to craft and build the things they need and want, from a simple shelter to -- if they choose -- to a sprawling mansion filled with details and luxuries. With no story or concrete objectives, it's up to players to choose what to do and how to do it.
What's it about?
Clearly inspired by Minecraft, TERRARIA is a sandbox adventure game that is proudly without narrative or scripted objectives. Players are plopped into a two-dimensional world with nothing but a few tools and a will to live to see the next day. To that end, kids go about harvesting materials -- wood, stone, flammable jelly from slime monsters -- to create the basics of human survival, including a shelter, a chair, and torch for light and warmth. Essentials looked after, the world is then theirs to do with as they please. Mining new materials and crafting new items leads to ever more useful and complex recipes, allowing players to go from mud and wood huts to enormous mansions and castles, or even giant pixel art murals. The Xbox 360 edition we tested supports solo play, online play, and local two-player cooperative play.
Is it any good?
Terraria's 2D setting -- it's primary differentiator from Minecraft -- doesn't actually change the sandbox mining game formula all that much. You may be limited to digging and building on a flat plane, but the activities of harvesting materials, crafting items, and then placing them in the world to build things should prove quite familiar. And also a lot of fun.
That said, players should be aware that this game isn't quite as accessible as others in its genre. Movement and aiming are stiff and unforgiving and can lead to frustrating demises. Also, it takes time to grow accustomed to the game's awkwardly designed menus, which make working with recipes and ingredients and moving items around more complicated than necessary. Plus, occasional technical problems -- like the minute or so of extreme choppiness that follows after booting up a game in the Xbox 360 edition we evaluated -- don't help matters much. But while it may take a few hours to warm to, Terraria can prove quite rewarding for those tenacious enough to stick with it. It can be a great outlet for Lego-like creativity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about creativity. What sparks your imagination? How do you like to act upon your ideas? Is there a particular media in which you like to express yourself, or do you prefer using whatever is at hand?
Families can also discuss conservation. As you played the game, did you notice what happens to the world around you? How do you deal with resource depletion and forest clear-cutting? What is the logical end to your continuing growth and expansion?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Windows, Xbox 360
- Subjects: Hobbies: building, collecting, gardening
Science: geology, rocks and minerals
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, group projects
Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, deduction, problem solving
Creativity: combining knowledge, imagination, making new creations
Self-Direction: goal-setting, initiative, work to achieve goals
- Price: $15.00
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: 505 Games
- Release date: March 27, 2013
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.