364616_larger-1I don’t particularly love the sandbox-survival genre - made famous by Minecraft - or care to dabble in every one of its corners. I often play these kinds of games in a 3-4 hour chunk, vigorously exploring, crafting, and building until the well of joy runs dry and I rarely come back to them. Turns out, though, Terraria [$4.99] has one hell of a deep well, and has had me coming back for more on more occasions than I can count.

Racing to get into the game, I skipped the tutorial because I’ve done this before. I’ve crafted ALL the craft. Everything is as I expected; your custom character drops into a randomly-generated world, and you're off. Chop down trees for wood and then turn wood into walls. Turn walls into castle, and then turn castle into the USS Enterprise.  All of it is here, except now in beautifully pixelated 2D sprites.

Terraria did not stop at simply crafting and building, though, it has a combat systems too. When you've got your sword swinging, it plays much like a clunky-er Ghouls n’ Ghosts as you defend yourself from one-eye freaks, and Jell-O-blobs, that lurk about the night you reap their spoils. Those spoils allow you to craft better stuff. Things like armor, weapons, furnishings, tools, etc. Combat remains to be Terraria’s stand-out trait from the competition, giving the player more vibes of action-adventure RPGs than any other genre-heavyweight I’ve played.

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It’s no lie this game is systems-heavy, so if you enjoy bouncing between complex systems Terraria has you covered. The joy of this genre is exploring, uncovering secrets, and discovering systems you never expected to exist and as such it’s a disservice to the product to overly explain everything it has to offer. But, what is safe to say, is that the game will constantly surprise you as you delve deeper into what is possible both with building and exploring. Of particular note is your buildings actually serve a purpose to house NPC's, rather than just being yet another abandoned wizard tower in your Minecraft world, and much, much more.

Yet, with all this praise, Terraria still has a lump to complain about. Surprisingly enough, it’s not in the control department either. The virtual controls worked perfectly fine for me, after a bit of practice, with little to no hiccups.

Instead, the lack of multiplayer at launch is the biggest bummer. I also experience some odd frame-rate issues during my time as a lumberjack, on my iPad 2 but this doesn't seem to be an issue at all on newer hardware. On the topic of iPad: if you’re not playing Terraria on one: expect to potentially be dealing with a few frustrations stemming from lack of screen-real-estate. I'm hopeful an eventual update will bring over the multiplayer we desire, but that’s a make-or-break-point in a week in which Terraria launches alongside a new Junk Jack game.

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I’m not here to compare every game of this kind, nor do I care to play them all. What I know is: Terraria takes a different approach to a formula proven by Minecraft in perspective, combat, immersive-storytelling and – most importantly – moments of discovery. It's a treat, especially on the App Store where it seems like developers are just racing to clone Minecraft rather than bring any kind of innovation to the table.

While by no means a replacement for the full PC version of Terraria, this pint-sized iteration is an effortless recommendation. We've been waiting forever for Terraria to arrive, and while the additional screen real estate of the iPad makes it a bit more fun to play on the larger-screened device and multiplayer would be a welcome addition, this is just as much of a must-have for Minecraft fans as Junk Jack X.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Sheo

    5 stars give-away

    • lavenders2

      Lets be honest here: the writers can't win.

      Two 5 stars: People whine that 5 stars are found on trees
      Junk Jack gets 5 stars, Terraria gets less: Terraria fanboys cry
      Terraria gets 5 stars, Junk Jack gets less:
      Junk Jack fanboys get mad
      Both games get less than 5 stars:
      Limbo incident reborn

      But yeah, in my opinion both 5 stars are well deserved. Dont insult either of these brilliant games by thinking you have to choose. Get both.

      • lepke

        If you never played terraria before than for sure get it, if you already played it then get jjx.

      • LOLCAT

        You, good sir or madam, are a genius.

      • lavenders2

        Why thank you LOLCAT :)

  • basil

    I'm glad we're not picking sides but if Terraria had multiplayer I think it'd get six stars

    • Kalahan

      I think other than no multiplayer the game still has some considerable flaws.

  • Taclys

    I've played both, and the controls (especially fighting controls) irked me in Terraria. I've stuck to JJx. However both are very nice games.

  • Dueler

    Im loving it but the small world size is the killer. It just breaks the immersion so badly when you walk from one side of the world to the other in a minute.

    The hardest part for me is i have no idea what i can and cant do compared to the PC version. So progression is a little flakey without any real knowledge of where the end of content is in this version. :/

    That's just me tho and itll better once some guides/databases go up for the ios version.
    But till then ill just keep feeling lost tho.

    And ill agree with the Author, no multiplayer at launch is pretty sad, almost made me close it after 5 minutes but meh, its still as fun as i remember on PC and ill definately finish it on my iPhone 4S, and for those wondering i have no real problem with "screen real estate", 5 item hotbar is a little limited but i got used to it very quickly.

    Just as a final note, if you haven't played terraria this is a great entry point for anyone.
    If you have played terraria however its a simple question of do you like it enough that you want a smaller portable version to play on your iphone/ipad.

    • Jerutix

      Junk Jack X is small like that too, but I really like that. As a Minecraff novice (my only other experience is Blockheads), I don't really want a huge world; it's too overwhelming. I don't play for hours and hours on end (not saying you do), so a smaller world fits my schedule better as well.

      • http://ask.fm/MidianGTX MidianGTX

        A bigger world needn't mean longer play sessions provided the biome generation is more frequent. You'd be able to play almost exactly as you do right now, with the rest of the world being totally optional. Minecraft on PC is essentially infinite, but that doesn't mean you're stuck playing for eternity.

      • Jerutix

        Fair point. It's a mental thing for me. Smaller feels more in control.

      • themostunclean

        In JJX each world may be a bit small but together and with the biomes they create quite an expansive experience. I think if you laid every world end-to-end it would take about 20-30 minutes to walk across.

        And at least now you're cycling around the world instead if hitting an invisible wall :)

  • Bliquid

    I never played this game, and i'm very interested.
    If anyone could, I'd like a deeper explaination of what it means that it doesn't compare to the PC version, so that i can choose the best place to play this on

    • lepke

      PC for sure and is main plat and where you get the most bang for your buck, latest updates etc and the community is amazing. Jjx is iOS (I know people will disagree but that is my opinion.) lets not forget its multiplayer either that you don't get on iOS.

    • Trickoy

      I've finished Terraria on iOS but have it as well on Mac. Difference is iOS generates a random small map automatically while you can choose small, medium or large on Mac/PC. Mac/PC has multiplayer which is more interactive than playing by yourself on iOS. Mac/PC has Hardmode and you can craft better stuff while iOS is stuck on normal mode even if you defeat the last boss. It will get boring, trust me. IMO get the one for Mac/PC, you'll enjoy it more there. Especially they're coming up with version 1.2 which brings in more cool stuff. :)

      • HadToDoItToEm

        There's a Mac version???

      • Trickoy

        More like a wrapper. So Mac users get it for free.

  • araczynski

    everything in this genre has bored me to tears in mere minutes. its up there with endless runners in terms of time wasters, but actually/neferiously having a purpose to that endless time wasting makes it appealing. still, i'm not OCD enough to want to waste any of my life on this stuff.

    • flashbackflip

      You still up to waste your life on other games, as you are registered on this site ;)

      So it means this genre just is not for ya

      • araczynski

        most definitely, gaming is NOT a waste of time, saying otherwise is blasphemy. but yeah, this genre to me is just a pile of scat, but i do respect the 'to each their own' clause when it comes to everything in life.

      • TarePlays

        Lol blasphemy has to do with religion. Does it now?

      • araczynski

        "the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk."

        gaming is sacred, so yes. :)

  • flashbackflip

    I'm digging JJX at the moment (literally) and also interested in Terraria title. So i got a question and will be grateful if someone can elaborate:

    I often hear this Terraria edition is 'nerfed' compared to PC and the world is small. So the question is HOW SMALL is the world and is it still big enough to get lost (in a good sense of exploration)??

    Thanx in advance for your answers

    • Zeldaniac

      Would like to know this as well.

    • Gustav

      It's extremely small, smaller than the smallest PC world. And the difficulty has been nerfed a lot. Too small, too easy. But for $5 it still was fun for like 3 days.

    • Xissoric

      I have both of the games, and enjoy both of them, but after playing Terraria on the PC the iOS version is minuscule. I'd estimate it takes around a minute 30 seconds to get to one edge of the map.

      • Xissoric

        So if I would suggest one of them, 100% I would suggest Junk Jack. I'd say Terraria deserves 4 stars for less mobs, tiny worlds, and over spawning of resources.

      • avcx

        Thats funny, ive never made it to the end of a junk jack world I've ran in one direction for 10 minutes and didn't reach an end. Also so the patch notes say infinite generating worlds. Maybe my version is broken...

      • avcx

        Lol wrong website xD how did i post here!?!

    • Trickoy

      Small. Like you get from west point to east in a minute.

  • Juroku

    I'd say that without multiplayer, it shouldn't get 5 stars.

  • Krautboy

    I hear people saying they finished Terraria. Can someone elaborate on what that means (without spoilers please )? I don't get how you finish a sandbox game.

    • Marco Filetti

      Terraria has some "events" (to avoid spoilers) and surviving them is the biggest challenge in the game... once you do you beat the game basically. You should get spoiled actually, finding out how to trigger some of this stuff is almost impossible without a wiki

      • Krautboy

        Thanks!

  • qqppee

    While I thoroughly enjoy the iOS version, IMO the game is WAY too generous. I managed to get a full suit of gold armour, all gold tools and maximum health within an hour. Plus I found three underground houses almost literally next to each other. I know the world is a lot smaller than the PC or console versions, but I still think its little too over generous. Other than that the controls are great and is still fun to play.

    • thundermole

      ...yeah, but gold is nothing.

  • eventide

    Shocker.

  • MartianLM

    The only game I've played in this genre is Blockheads (which I sank a lot of time into), how do this and JJX compare?

    • avcx

      Well for one there is alot more items, and crafting doesnt take an hour its instant, unless you use the simple crafting!

    • Nathaniel Arnold

      I played The Blockheads obsessively, like you.

      I'm familiar with the PC and Xbox 360 versions of Terraria, and enjoyed the former immensely. Seriously, if you have a personal computer of any description, get it. When I tried the Xbox 360 version, however, it became clear that the game, having been designed for a keyboard and mouse control scheme, was very difficult to adapt to other input schemes.

      I have Terraria (and Junk Jack X) running on an iPhone 4S, and though the touch interface suits Terraria far better than the Xbox controller did, it is still very awkward and imprecise. If you were to approach this game without knowing it was a port, you'd probably find yourself wondering at some of the design decisions.

      Junk Jack X, on the other hand, was clearly designed for a touch interface from the start. Its blocks are larger, like The Blockheads, and require no zoom-in subsystem to properly manipulate.

      Additionally, Junk Jack X includes an option to play in "peaceful" mode, with no enemy encounters, which may suit you better if you're approaching this game having only played The Blockheads before.

      I have a few other observations as well, but real life is intervening.

  • The Gamer Dude

    Well it's closer to the console/PC version than minecraft pocket was when it launched. Sure the world's are smaller and it's balanced towards easy but it's still awesome to have it on an idevice. Bring on the updates!

  • Jack_Crow

    "I’m not here to compare every game of this kind, nor do I care to play them all."

    That's literally what you're here to do. You're an iPhone game reviewer on the world's biggest iPhone game website.

    • avcx

      Hes not gonna compare them! He didn't say he's not going to review! He said he wasn't gonna compare them!

      • Qualitybeats

        Thank you.

      • Jack_Crow

        Right, okay. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but how can you review something in isolation from all of the other things around it?

        Like imagine a car review from a guy who's never driven a car before, and tries to make a virtue out of it.

      • Qualitybeats

        Lets discuss this outside of TA. Tweet me: @qualitybeats84

  • wigzisonfire

    Great review. Deserved score.

  • miumius

    Loving this game alot. Can anyone point out the differences between this version and PC (before giant update)?

  • jweber4

    The reviewer had a few negative things to say, and yet this game still earned 5 stars. I thought games had to be flawless in the eye of the reviewer to earn a perfect score.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like the community is starting to influence scores games get these days a little too much. I think TA was too careful to give both Terraria and JJX the same score. They're not the same game so it's not required they score identically. They weren't even reviewed by the same person.

    Personally, I think the interface of JJX works better on iOS devices, so that would warrant a higher score from me. (Yes, I know it was built solely for this platform.) That being said, from strictly a game standpoint, I'm more of a Terraria fan.

    Just makes me scratch my head a little bit.

  • rewyan

    I feel like TA is losing their confidence to give a popular game a bad rating. They should've given Junk Jack X 5 stars, and Terraria 3.5 or less. That would've started an entertaining outrage.

  • Shazain

    Please help Junk Jack X or Terraria. Please I'm so confused.

    • Zenfar

      Both...

  • anabolicMike

    I was a firm 100 percent junk jack x is bettern terraria guy. Well. Junk jack is awesome. Built a house and did a few other things. Collecting stuff making a treasure room. Pretty sweet. Anyway I thought is try terraria (since I did buy it). I played for a bit and thought meh, whatever. Played for a bit more a discovered I spent days on it. Man there is so much more to do in terraria then junk jack. Way more. I love jjX but I think terraria is the better game now. Like wow. I didn't expect that! I've gotten onto the controls and I don't even notice em anymore. God this is a good game. I made a hole from the ocean to the underworld though. Now my world crashes but! It was meant to be. What a great freaking game. I already killed bosses and collected some cool ass stuff. Yes. Good game

  • http://www.ebog.me/ ebog

    I love it. Good graphics and the content. That's what I care about when to start playing a game.

Terraria Reviewed by Jeffrey deMelo on . Rating: 5