The Indie Shelf: Terraria

Hello everybody! On this week’s addition of “The Indie Shelf” we have the xbla game turned app, Terraria.


Developer(s) Re-Logic
Engine Software(consoles)
Codeglue (mobile)
Publisher(s) Re-Logic
505 Games
Spike Chunsoft (Japan)
Programmer(s) Andrew “Redigit” Spinks
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Xbox Live Arcade
Windows Phone
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows
May 16, 2011
Xbox Live Arcade
March 27, 2013IOS
August 29, 2013
September 13, 2013
Windows Phone
Genre(s) Action-adventure

“You feel an evil presence watching you.” The warning message flashes on the bottom of the screen while you’re busy chopping down trees in the forest. Night has fallen over the land of Terraria, a time for evil monsters to wake from their daylight slumber and assert their dominance. You need shelter if you’re going to survive their deadly onslaught, but your time has run out. “The Eye of Cthulhu has awoken!” A roar from the darkness sends a chill down your spine. You equip your sword, ready your healing potions, and dig in for a fierce battle while a full moon gazes down. This colorful 2D adventure keeps you on guard by sending demons and monsters to kill you when you least expect it. You’re never safe in Terraria. Surprises abound, both nefarious and empowering. In the dead of night, you may find your home invaded by a goblin army. But on the next night, you may find a treasure chest rich with helpful items. Terraria is a deeply rewarding adventure that continually urges you onward to see what lies ahead.

This aspect of Terraria is dizzying. You can spend days and days plugging away here, exploring the map in a series of discrete lunges into the unknown – each ending with your hilarious death and respawn back in a safe zone – and you’ll still be seeing new stuff by your 20th, your 30th, your 50th hour. You can spend days digging down into the ground scavenging ore and crystal hearts and accidentally tipping yourself into pools of lava. You can spend days plodding across sandscapes or building staircases up into the sky, or simply refining your home base until you’ve added vanity battlements and encouraged a handy range of NPCs to move in. You can spend days crafting every kind of armour and weapon from the resources you almost died collecting. You can chisel through the endless darkness of the game’s bedrock for whole afternoons and feel like the loneliest person who ever lived, or you can cheer yourself up with a miner’s lamp and a pet to keep you company.

Terraria’s console version will even hold a few surprises for any PC veterans washing up on its shores. The worlds are still huge and riddled with randomised possibility, and you can still explore them with friends, but there’s now four-player split-screen supported alongside eight-player online. There’s a handy opening tutorial, too, which does its best to at least show newbies how to build their first house, even if it struggles to prepare anyone for the fiendish depths that await after its construction.

And there are new pad-based controls, which offer both an automatic targeting system for your axe, your hammer, or your weapon of choice, as well as a manual option for moments when you’re engaged in fiddly stuff. You can switch between the two modes at the click of a thumbstick, and they’re both useful in their own ways. Automatic digging targets blocks fairly intelligently and is great for just pointing the right stick in a set direction and then chewing through the ground with relative ease, while manual digging works best when you’re trying to build things or gather specific pockets of ore. At times, the game can feel a bit like a twin-stick shooter on consoles, and while the setup isn’t quite as elegant as the mouse-and-keyboard approach, it’s still intelligently designed and surprisingly clear-headed.

When hosting, the game runs well enough, but when joining somebody else’s game, the lag can be debilitating. While lag doesn’t matter much during the slower portions, it can be infuriatingly unplayable during tense combat sequences. Worse yet, if you travel quickly enough in a friend’s world, the terrain will not load in time, causing you to fall all the way to the bottom of the map with nothing to stop you.

In addition to online play, the port also allows up to four-player split screen multiplayer, but it has its own problems too. Even with only two players, Terraria suffers from significant drops in framerate at times. Aside from that, the interface works surprisingly well using only a fraction of the screen real estate, but due to the slowdown, local multiplayer can still be a pain for combat or tricky platforming sections.

Regardless of how you approach things, though, the basic rhythm of this astonishing piece of work remains the same. For your first few hours, Terraria will seem like a bewildering – occasionally terrifying – strain of chore. Put in the effort, though, and it eventually reveals its true nature. This isn’t a game or even a toy. At heart, it’s a vocation.


  • Expansive world.
  • Crafting system.
  • Controls.


  • Lag.
  • Drops in framerate while playing multiplayer.
  • Beginning of game feels like a chore.

SCORE: 7.2 / 10

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The Indie Shelf: State of Decay

Hello everybody! On this week’s The Indie Shelf, we have the fun survival zombie game State of Decay.


Developer(s) Undead Labs
Publisher(s) Microsoft Studios
Composer(s) Jesper Kyd
Engine CryEngine 3
Platform(s) Xbox 360 (XBLA),Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) Xbox 360

  • June 5, 2013

Microsoft Windows

  • September 20, 2013 (Via Steam Early Access)
  • November 5, 2013 (Official release)
Genre(s) Stealth, survival horror
Mode(s) Single-player

State of Decay is designed to let zombie fans answer the ultimate question: What would you do in the face of the zombie apocalypse?

The end is here. Human civilization has been annihilated. The few, scattered survivors must band together, rebuilding civilization in a third- person action game packed with sweet guns, fast cars, hand-to-hand combat, and copious amounts of zombie gore. Players choose where to make their stand, designing and fortifying their settlements, performing daring raids for valuable stores of food and ammunition, and rescuing other playable survivors. The open world develops in real-time, shaped by player actions, with content determined by their choices and the ever-increasing zombie threat.

State of Decay has to be one of the funniest games I have played all year. I was initially extremely excited for the release last year, but it fell off of my radar until a couple of months ago. I beat State of Decay’s main story after a couple of days, but realized there was so much more to play! I’m still making my way trying to recruit other survivors and exploring areas(I don’t think there are anymore building materials on my map left.) State of Decay has plenty of replay value since you can play with so many different characters and play the story differently.

The whole point of State of Decay is just like all other zombie games, pure animalistic survival. While State of Decay does have traditional elements, it tries to add just enough to make itself unique. The game completes this by setting the game in an interesting open world and by focusing on time/character management. Management is key for survival in State of Decay. Sure, you can use only one character for the majority of the game, but when he/she is hurt/tired, who are you going to use next?

While State of Decay is an incredibly fun game, I still have plenty of gripes about it. This game is buggy as all hell (which is to expect from an indie game, even if it is from the minds at Zombie Labs). Zombies glitching through walls/fences, randomly spawning in my home, and one hit kills with full health. It is actually becomes pretty irritating as the random survivors I keep saving just randomly die. What the hell? Also, the “allies are in trouble” filler quests are getting consistently annoying. Its the same shit over and over.


  • Graphics.
  • Story.
  • Open world.
  • Game play.
  • Replay Value.


  • Consistently buggy/glitches.
  • Filler quests.

SCORE: 9.0 / 10

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The Indie Shelf: Battleblock Theater

Hello everybody! On this installment of The Indie Shelf, we have Battleblock Theater (recently gone Game for Gold).


Developer(s) The Behemoth
Big Timber Studio
Publisher(s) Microsoft Studios
The Behemoth (Steam)
Designer(s) Dan Paladin, Tom Fulp
Platform(s) Xbox 360,Microsoft Windows, Linux
Release date(s) Xbox Live Arcade
April 3, 2013
Windows, Linux
May 15, 2014
Genre(s) Platformer
Mode(s) Single player, Co-operative and competitive multiplayer (1-4 players, local and online)

You’re an anonymous doughy prisoner, stranded in a dilapidated theatre run by cats in the sway of a haunted hat; cats who build deadly platform challenges out of blocks and make prisoners like you run them for laughs.
In the regular game, the aim is to collect gems to unlock the exit while seeking bonus gems and balls of golden yarn to unlock new weapons and unlockable bonus heads for your character. Progression is a mix of rapid, accurate movement—your abilities include double jumping, wall jumping, sliding and dashing—and puzzle solving based on the blocks you’re faced with.

Flash games aren’t the crucible of indie talent that they once were, but Battleblock Theater carries the legacy of those halcyon days. The technology might have changed, but this is a game from the culture that produced Meat Boy and N+. It’s by The Behemoth, the guys that made Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers, and it marks a sea change in how much indie developers are capable of achieving with a single game. It’s a platform adventure, a co-op and versus multiplayer game, a creative suite and a comedy revue.

What sets Battleblock Theater apart, in the first case, is that its levels are contraptions. Blocks interact with one another according to a consistent internal logic, and this logic is used to create challenges that the player can tinker with. You might encounter a platform that fades in and out of existence on a regular timer—but this timer isn’t set by some behind-the-scenes clock.

It’s determined by a laser block, situated elsewhere in the level, that regularly fires at a switch block that triggers the platform. Block the laser at the correct time and you can prevent the beam from hitting the switch, stopping the vanishing platform from disappearing—and so on. You’ll crack dozens of puzzles like this over the course of the adventure, and a full block-based level editor expands the potential challenge exponentially.

It’s all presented wonderfully. Battleblock Theater is a very funny, sharply written game, narrated with incredible energy. Puppet theatre cutscenes put a smile on your face and intermittent lines of voiceover keep it there. Then there are the excellent songs, particularly the hilarious, nonsensical scatting that accompanies secret levels. There’s a lot of The Muppets in Battleblock Theater, in the best possible way.


  • Fun game play elements.
  • Interesting plot.
  • Somewhat challenging puzzles.
  • Likable characters.


  • Slow Game play.
  • Silly and elementary dialogue.

SCORE: 8.5 / 10

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