System(s): Vita (Also available for PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Android, iOS)
Release Date: December 17, 2013
Publisher (Developer): 505 Games (Re-Logic)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, and Violence
Terraria has come a long way since its 2011 release. While some may still mistake it as “that 2D Minecraft clone,” the legions of devoted fans playing it on the PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Android tablets, and iOS devices know better. They realize the gem this game is, and the freedom it offers its players. And now, a whole new audience gets an opportunity to enjoy Terraria on the Vita, in what is probably the best portable version of the game.
Build. Explore. Destroy. Create.
Terraria is a sandbox game. Players’ avatars find themselves in a barren, 2D world, filled with monsters, dungeons, and other wonders. Survival is key, since zombies and stronger monsters come at night. While the immediate concern of all new players is to build a basic shelter, the rest is up to you.
People can choose to focus on building, creating castles, villages, and other major undertakings. They can attempt to chart every area of the world, looking for floating islands in the sky and tunneling to the center of the world. They can fight massive monsters, destroying every foe. They can try to craft every kind of item and attract every NPC to their settlement.
It’s really up to you. Terraria gives you multiple worlds, and it’s up to you to do with each area what you see fit.
Everything other versions can do, the Vita version can do better.
Let me start by saying the Terraria basics remain intact. This is a full, robust, sandbox game and there is tons to enjoy. People can build massive building complexes, explore the world to the fullest, find dungeons and mobs to attack, and annihilate gigantic bosses. You get out of Terraria what you put into it, and people devoted to exploring and crafting will find it a perfect replica of the PC and console releases of the game.
Which means its the Vita exclusives that make this incarnation of Terraria really special. Players get a combination of touch and joystick controls, and while you can’t just touch to place blocks and furniture, the touchscreen options do make for a more streamlined adventure.
Still, the Vita version of Terraria really excels when it works with the PS3 version. It offers cross-play options that take it up to another level. The biggest deal is that the two share save data. If someone had the PS3 version, they could upload their worlds and characters to the cloud, then import them into the Vita version. About a minute’s wait lets you maintain progress. It’s a wonderful addition. The game also offers multiplayer support, so you can play with PS3 and Vita owners, but the cross-platform saves are the best part of this port.
There were only two issues I ran into with the handheld incarnation of Terraria, and both are quite minor. In fact, they’re problems that devoted players will be accustomed to and compensate for as time goes on. The first has to do with building. While the Vita version has the manual and automatic controls from the PS3 and Xbox 360 version, it does take a while to get used to the variations. Especially if you’re coming in straight from the PC version.
The other is that Terraria may leave you squinting. The game’s characters, enemies, and blocks are usually pretty small in the PC and console versions, and they’re even teenier in the Vita release. Again, if you play enough you’ll get used to it, but I found the PS3 and PC versions preferable as they seemed to offer offer better views.
‘The’ way to play Terraria on the go.
The Vita version of Terraria is really the best possible, portable version of the game. The various cross-play compatibility features with the PS3 version make it a joy to go from couch to handheld and back, and also expands the number of playable partners for people who want to go online. Not to mention, people have the luxury of using both touch screen and joystick controls. It does take a while to master building massive complexes, but after a few hours it’s fairly intuitive. The only real problem is the diminuative screen, seeing as how teeny Terraria‘s visuals are even on a PS3 or PC, but determined players will work through that. It’s a great timesink, and a wonderful game to have on a Vita should you need to kill a few hours.