Game Website: https://terraria.org/
Gameplay Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0scnF8pXfU

My Experience

Lens of the Elemental Tetrad

  • Aesthetics
    • Terraria is done entirely with cute 2D sprites. It made me appreciate the beauty and simplicity of good pixel art.
    • It was refreshing to play a game with such simple graphics after having almost every other games coming out in modern 3D graphics.
  • Technology
    • As it is a 2D game, it has low system requirements and hence very accessible to most players.
    • It is also available in numerous platforms, ranging from PC to consoles and smartphones and handheld gaming devices.
  • Mechanics
    • It is a sandbox game, with elements of exploration, building and action.
  • Story
    • There is no storyline. I am free to do what I want in the game, such as choosing to go exploring and slaying monsters to gather materials or spending the day building impressive feats of architecture with basic building blocks.

Lens of Curiosity

    • The randomly generated world of Terraria was filled with numerous secret caverns and dungeons, littered with great treasures that I could use to beef up my character’s combat or exploration abilities, or with rare materials to use to craft them myself.
A Beehive! Underground? Wait, what? I hope I get the gun that shoot bees at my enemies!

A Beehive! Underground? Wait, what? I hope I get the gun that shoot bees at my enemies!

  • When I dug deep enough, I discovered the existence of the Underworld. It resided some of the strongest monsters I have encountered at this point, as well as a boss I had to defeat which triggered the world to go into ‘Hard Mode’, spawning even stronger monsters and rarer materials for me to discover.
This must be how the creators envisioned hell to look like

This must be how the creators envisioned hell to look like

Lens of the Toy

  • I was obsessed with building things, so the ability to freely build stuff is a huge bonus to extend the gameplay length. I clocked 148 hours spent mostly on building stuff.
This is what 148 hours of work look like

This is what 148 hours of work look like

  • After gathering enough materials, I was able to create a giant floating fortress that has:
    • Death traps to kill invaders
    • Sky bridge across the entire world for fast access
    • Teleporters to teleport to the ground floor or Underworld
    • Arena to summon and fight bosses
    • Pixel art of Charizard and Blastoise (sorry I stopped before I did Venusaur)
    • Battery powered by enslaving animals to jump on buttons repeatedly
    • A failed attempt to make an aquarium
A glass dome in a glass dome with a lifeless aquarium

A glass dome in a glass dome with a lifeless aquarium

Sorry Venusaur, I ran out of green tiles

Sorry Venusaur, I ran out of green tiles

Lens of Time

  • The duration of the game is entirely dependent on the player. There is no ‘story’ for you to complete, so the game only ends when you believe you have ran out of things to do.
  • I have reached a point where I have explored the entire world and exhausted most resources. I will have to move to a new world to find more materials or challenges.

Lens of Chance

  • To increase replayability, the developers have implemented the world in such a way that not all materials or events can be found in a single world. You will have to replay on new worlds and hope that the thing you need will spawn there by chance.
  • Rare equipments also drop by chance from specific bosses which will take time to summon and farm.

Friend’s Experience

Lens of the Elemental Tetrad

  • Aesthetics
    • He had less appreciation of such art styles, preferring art that is more detailed.
  • Technology
    • He was able to install Terraria on his computer without any system requirement problems.
    • It has high compatibility as expected.
  • Mechanics
    • He was more in tuned with the combat gameplay of the game, seemingly more aggressive and wants to kill stuff.
  • Story
    • To be the very best, like no one ever was. This also meant destroying every living soul he encountered.

Lens of Interest Curve

  • His interest was drawn towards exploration and peaked when he discovered the existence of bosses hidden underground or summoned.
  • Time was spent researching on how to tackle the next bosses and finding better equipment.
  • Conversely, he did minimal building before running off to explore again.
  • His interest in the game was short-lived and stopped when he ran out of bosses or opponents to beat.
Bosses from your nightmares

Bosses from your nightmares

Lens of Skill

  • Despite being underequipped for some challenges, he still attempted them head on, sometimes emerging victorious through clever strategies or skill.
  • His mastery of his arsenal of equipment was also pivotal to his success. E.g. Skilfully using grappling hooks to manoeuvre out of tight spots, using ranged weapons to put distance between him and the enemy.

Lens of Competition

  • When he lost interest in the bosses, he turned to online servers to do PvP against other skilled players.
  • Fights were fast paced and challenging if both sides have equally overpowered equipment.
  • However, the gap created by different level of equipment was quite impossible to be bridged by skill alone.

Cant hit me bro


Lens of Balance

  • Through collecting an arsenal of equipment, it is apparent that there are some with overpowered and game-breaking effects. E.g. Life steal, homing projectiles, insane damage, etc.
  • Combat becomes a lot easier upon possession of such weapons and game becomes less challenging.
  • You stand no chance against opponents with these weapons, unless you have these as well.
I guess I spoke too soon

I guess I spoke too soon


It is very apparent that my friend and I have very differing play style, with me being drawn towards the sandbox building aspect of the game, while my friend was more inclined towards the challenge-oriented aspect of defeating bosses and PvP fights. It is impressive how a game can cover these two seemingly disjoint aspects and mechanic and allow them to complement each other.

The lack of story did not affect either of our enjoyment. In fact, in such open-world sand box games, the players are free to create their own story. For me, I played like an architect relishing in the freedom to create what I envisioned and designing complex mechanisms from simple technology to power my flying fortress home. As for my friend, he played like an adventurer venturing out to slay all evil to become the strongest character. In this game, you are what you want to be.

Because of such differing gameplay styles, we found that there were also multiple different lenses that described our different experience. This shows that much effort went into making both the creation and adventuring aspect of the game fun for the players.

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