Terrorarium (PC) Review – Early Access – with Stream
Lack of details
Could use more instructions
Grandmas are supposed to be nice, to be gentle and maybe give you some candy but this really isn’t the case in the newest game from Stitch Media. In Terrorarium you control an alien looking grandma whose goal in life is to create a murder garden to destroy anyone who comes near. You can do this by setting up traps and blockades with dangerous plants and animals that will ruin the day of anyone passing by. You also control little expendable lemming-like animals called moogu that help you test your dangerous garden
Terrorarium as of right now is in early access, and as such only has two main modes. Quick play lets you go through a litany of already created stages to help you get used to the game, and is setup more of as a tutorial than anything else. Theres no story as of yet, so it’s a bit odd to just jump into the quick play with no explanation as to why you are a space granny creating muder gardens, but many gamers would skip a story just to get the game anyway and adapt to the gameplay. However, I witnessed a lot of bugs that would make it very hard to get going and enjoy the ride. Right off the bat, literally seconds in, the message to show you how to launch your little helpers is very broken, and wouldn’t allow you to see what two buttons you had to use to break the first barrier. Bugs are usually fine in early access games, but this is too damn important, since it’s the first screen you see, and provides very important information on how to even play the game. Also, like in Pikmin, you corral your little helpers around wherever you go, but in a sort ring of influence. You can call them back to you if they leave your ring, but once done they follow you even into hazards. Even when making jumps using the gassy moogu, you cannot help but lose a good chunk of the moogu you have not because you did anything wrong, but when you complete the jump they moogu spread out right into any hazards near you and kill themselves. Also, they are programmed to mate with any of their corpses (I said it was dark), but when they die near the edge of a hazard, they constantly trap more into the process of mating, then dying and attracting more which defeats the purpose of the game.
The second game mode is Maker mode which allows you to create many different stages with an incredible amount of variety to share with anyone. In this mode the sheer amount of choices for stages, plants, animals, hazards, and other items is really quite amazing, and should keep anyone busy for hours and hours. Like Mario Maker or something similar, the ingenious part is letting the player base make your levels for you, since no one can be as innovative and clever than the entirety of all people. I am positive if there is enough people that we will see some truly great levels, since it’s made by the people who would also play this kind of game. Maker mode is still not perfect though, as one of the first things I did was somehow trap a chunk of all my moogu in plants that I had added for atmosphere, but I had no idea would also be the spawn point for anyone playing my level, so I’ve effectively hurt their changes right from the beginning. This is a small bug though, and since its early access, its easy enough to forgive, but not showing you where the player will spawn so you can avoid these kind of issues is a sample of bad design, as it seems they put more detail into the flowers you can plant, instead of where they should go.
Terrorarium is a good idea, since you don’t often see any game of this kind with a dark humor aspect put to it instead of very serious or oppositely made for young children. It has a market, but at this time it seems that they put far too much effort into making the maker mode have enough choices that they forgot about proper gameplay and instruction. Choice is good, but looking good matters as well, as we see almost no details put into the gameplay objects and background with little to no layers of detail. Early access is definitely something to consider here, but that usually means polish and minor bugs, not a lack of direction and proper testing seen here.