With references to Donkey Kong (see above) and Super Mario Bros, we know that Braid was inspired by the legends of platformer games and also utilises the timeless mechanics of jumping on platforms and monsters. Like those games, you also have to “rescue” a princess from a castle. Combined with an intriguing new mechanic, the ability to control time, Braid became an legend of its own in the overly saturated platformer genre and was also recognised as a wonderfully made puzzle game. When it was released in 2008, many industry people said it brought the indie game industry to new heights by sparking people’s interest in indie games.

But that’s not all about it. The true reason why this tiny indie game is immensely famous is because of its seemingly simple story with a huge twist at the end of the game which conflicts with all your preconceived notions of what the aim of the game is. Its developer, Jonathan Blow, who studied both English and Computer Science, combines art, literature and game design in unprecedented ways. Eventually, you can’t shake off the feeling that you are being played by the game instead.

Original Game Demo (Trailer)

Speed run: Will have spoilers!!

Lens of Elemental Tetrad
The platformer mechanics like walking, jumping on platforms, triggering a switch to move a platform, avoiding dangerous projectiles are timeless. The ability to jump on monsters to kill them is also a classic mechanic from Mario Bros that many people are likely to be familiar with. Braid then adds a mechanic which is the ability to reverse time and fast forward time. Not all objects are affected by time, thus the player has to make use of this time mechanic to collect the jigsaw puzzle pieces. In world 3, walking left will reverse time, walking right will fast forward time. In world 4, every time you reverse time, it will create a doppelgänger shadow that does what you did in the past. With mechanics that are kept simple, Braid manages to come up with many genius yet varied puzzles for players to solve.

Another impressive part of the mechanics is that they have “dynamical meaning”, a term coined by developer of Braid. This means that the mechanics will communicate emotionally to you, like how tutorials are incorporated seamlessly into the first few levels of every world. You are not told explicitly what to do. Additionally, the mechanics of the last level helps to tell the story, which we will talk about later.

Braid uses a timeless 2D art style that does not distract you from the puzzles and yet is still pleasing to the eyes. The rugged 2D graphics gives it a more indie feel, plus the tinge of nostalgia that the art brings also helps to set the atmosphere for the story, a story of nostalgia and regret.

There is no breakthrough technology used with a 2D side-scrolling platformer but this is great because it does not complicate the mechanics. Braid was first released on Xbox and then ported over to PC. The time forwarding and reversing is natural on a Xbox controller because it uses the L1 and R1 buttons.

It implements some basic “game” physics for its puzzles. Jumping off a slope will give you a slight increase in speed and jumping on monsters 2-3 times will increase your jump height and this technology is part of the puzzles.

On the surface, the story seems to be just about a guy regretting his mistakes and thus the princess left him and he needs to save the princess from a castle. He is also trying to relive his memories with the princess along the way. However, the vague narrative text seems to hint something more than that. The text uses many metaphors and often provides more insight into humanity. It even makes reference to the Manhattan project that created the atomic bomb. The player has to analyse the texts to make sense of the story, opening the story to different interpretations.

The story was meant to be distinctly separate from the game puzzles as the developer felt that he did not want to force any player to read the long narrative text. He felt it might also distract them from the actual puzzle solving. However, I personally prefer a story that is strongly tied to the puzzles, rather than solving all the puzzles in the world, only to be met with a dinosaur at the end that says that the princess is not in this particular castle.

The story in this game is mainly delivered through narrative text but is wonderfully complemented with the mechanics, nostalgic aesthetics and the relative simple technology used. The time mechanics emphasises on the fact that the past affects the future while the main character is trying to reverse his past mistakes.The mechanics of the last level in particular brings a huge twist to the story which makes this story shocking and also memorable…

Lens of surprise
There is no surprise that Braid is full of surprises as a puzzle game. Firstly, surprise is first delivered through discovering the solution to puzzles.The solution could be surprisingly simple. Secondly, there are tons of hidden things to discover in the game. There are hidden jigsaw puzzles pieces to be collected and pieced together to form pictures and they unlock the last level. There are hidden levels where you can collect stars instead. These will form a constellation once they are all collected and unlock the epilogue and the true ending. The epilogue, in my opinion, is the biggest surprise, giving unexpected insights into our main character and explains the metaphors in the story.

Lens of Challenge
Braid has mechanics which is easy to learn but difficult to master, this helps it to come up with both very easy puzzles (which are often tutorials at the start of each world to introduce a new slant to the time mechanic) and also very difficult puzzles near the end of each world. These difficult puzzles can be skipped as those jigsaw puzzle pieces need not be collected unless player is aiming for 100% completion. This allows beginners to progress through the game and improve their skills along the way first. They are allowed to come back to solve these difficult puzzles later. Thus Braid successfully caters to players of varying abilities. Alternating between easy and difficult puzzles is related to the lens of flow which we will mention later.

Lens of Parallelism
The same mechanics (different slant or variation to the main time mechanic) is used across levels in the same world. Easy levels are placed at the start of the world and the difficulty gradually increase towards the end of the world. This allows players to get used to a specific kind of mechanic and hone their skills. The final level will then test all these mechanics introduced previously, as if it is a “graduation exam”. This is also related to the lens of flow…

Lens of flow
The game manages to fluctuate between relaxation and tension by ultilising parallelism (see lens of parallelism) and levels of varying difficulties (see lens of challenge). Thus this creates a flow for players to increasingly feel enjoyment.

Thus, this is a game that is impossible not to learn from as a game designer even 10 years later in 2018. Though painfully crafted puzzle games might not appeal to a wide audience, Braid combines an amazing narrative with a unique time mechanic twist to our classic platformer genre.


Official website:

Game Description

Okami is an action adventure game developed by Clover Studio and published by Capcom. It was initially released on April 20, 2006 for the Playstation 2, but has since received multiple ports featuring updated controls and graphics for the Wii, Playstation 3, PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. It was highly acclaimed, receiving over 30 different awards including Game of The Year, Best Overall Story, Most Innovative Design and Best PS2 Adventure Game.

The game is set in the context of classical Japanese history and uses elements found in Japanese folklore to tell the story of how the land was saved from darkness by the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu, who takes the form of a white wolf. This doubles as a pun on the title of the game, as both 大神, or great god, and 狼, or wolf, are read as Okami.

The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad


Okami’s world is set in a beautiful, cel-shaded environment with a water colour style that was designed to resemble traditional Japanese ink wash paintings. As Amaterasu runs, flowers spring forth in her wake, brushstrokes that symbolise the wind flow past occasionally, and the very aesthetic of the painting ties in to Okami’s most unique mechanic.


Okami contains a mix of action, platforming and puzzle gameplay. Like many others of the genre, Amaterasu can run, jump and fight in real time. She has health points that when depleted, results in a game over, an inventory to store items and currency, and stats that she can level up.

In addition, Okami’s most unique mechanic and Amaterasu’s signature ability is to be able to use her tail, the Celestial Brush, to draw patterns on the canvas that is the screen. This lets her use 13 different techniques to solve puzzles, manipulate the environment and defeat enemies. The patterns players need to draw are easy to execute, consisting primarily of swirls, lines and circles. Amaterasu only starts with one of these techniques, and players are allowed to slowly get used to her different abilities as she learns them throughout the game. By using the proper technique, players are able to cause the Sun to rise, restore broken objects, slow down time or call upon the elements to smite their enemy, amongst others. Given the power and versatility of the ability, Amaterasu is limited by a slowly regenerating resource of ink to discourage players from carelessly using the brush, as running out of ink cripples Amaterasu all around.


100 years prior to the game’s present day, a great white wolf, Shiranui, and a swordsman, Nagi, sealed away the eight headed serpent demon Orochi. In the present day, Susano, Nagi’s descendant, unwittingly sets Orochi free. Orochi curses the lands, and drains the life from Nippon. Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun and the reincarnation of Shiranui, is called forth to remove the curse and to restore the land to its normal state. Amaterasu, along  with her companion Issun, set out to regain the powers of her Celestial Brush and gather Praise from the people of the land, eventually going back in time to stop Orochi at his peak and defeating the symbol of Darkness, Yami. Throughout the story, Okami takes elements from Japanese mythology, such as having Kaguya, from the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, and the Celestial Brush Gods representing the 12 animals of the Asian Zodiac.


The cel-shaded artstyle and simple aesthetics is relatively less graphically intensive as compared to many other games of its time, and helps it age very well even into the present day. One of the challenges I found that Okami faces is its controls and how to make drawing using the Celestial Brush effective for the player. When I played on its original release on the PS2, I found having to use the analog sticks a little awkward at times. Even though the patterns have been made simple to make it easier for the player, I found the ports on the Wii, which uses motion controls on the Wii remote to serve as the brush, and on the PC, which uses the mouse, to be much more natural and more comfortable for drawing.

The lens of character transformation:

At the start of the game, Amaterasu is little more than an intelligent wolf. With nothing but her basic attacks and her only Celestial Brush technique being Sunrise, many of the villagers throughout the land are sceptical of her status as a goddess. However, throughout the game, as Amaterasu helps out the people of the land and regains her powers, not only is she a more adept combatant, she is also seen by the people in a new light, and becomes a goddess that people can truly put their faith in. At the end of the game, as Yami strikes down Amaterasu, isolates her from her companions and siphons all her power, it is the prayers and the belief of all the people that Amaterasu has changed the life of along the way that allowed her to rise once again and vanquish Yami for good.

The lens of freedom:

The player can, at any point outside of menus and cutscenes, bring up the canvas to use the celestial brush. Instead of having them relegated to specific zones, players are free to experiment with the various Celestial Brush techniques at any point and see how they interact with the environment and with the enemies. Certain techniques, such as Bloom or Galestorm, can have different effects on different targets.

The lens of problem solving:

Being partially a puzzle game, Okami has its fair share of problem solving to be done. This mostly takes the form of sidequests where Amaterasu helps the people of Nippon and helping Amaterasu traverse the environment. While not extremely challenging, especially with Issun giving Amaterasu and the player advice on how to solve them, I found the slower pace of puzzle segments to be a refreshing change from the combat segments.

The lens of help:

Both the main quests and sidequests in Okami involve performing miracles and helping the people throughout the land. While this does have inherent gameplay benefits, as Praise is needed to increase Amaterasu’s stats, I found being able to make a change to these character’s lives, and convince them that Amaterasu isn’t merely a friendly wolf but a benevolent goddess watching over them to be very satisfactory. The final moments of the game, where the prayers from the people of the land that you’ve helped throughout your journey saves Amaterasu from certain doom at the hand of Yami, is also one of my personal highlights of the game.


The Total War series started in June 2000 with SHOGUN: Total War and its newest installment will come out autumn this year with Total War: Three Kingdoms (I’m extremely hyped for this by the way). It was a revolutionary computer game as although there were already quite a few Real Time Strategy games in the market, nothing could compare to the scale of battles in the Total War series.

Total War games mostly follow the same pattern. The campaign allows you to choose between several factions, lords or races and then thrusts you straight onto a campaign map of a chaotic warring region, and your goal is usually to conquer a certain number of lands and provinces by wrestling them out of the hands of rebels or other factions in a turn-based game of strategy. You must thus use military power, diplomacy, cunning, subterfuge and many other ways to outplay your enemies and make use of your allies.

When it comes to battle, what differentiated this game from normal RTS games was that you command a unit of troops instead of single individuals and try to out maneuver your opponents. On the surface, it would look like a simple rock-paper-scissors way of fighting; Cavalry beats archers, archers beat spearmen, spearmen beat horses. But the wide variety of units and abilities present even in the first installment of the series makes battles infinitely interesting and brings about unlimited possibilities in dynamics.

Screenshot: Troops charging head on

Screenshot: Soldiers slugging it out

In this review, I will be talking about one of my favorite in the series, Medieval II: Total War which was released in 2006. In this game, the year is 1080 and it focuses on medieval warfare, religion and politics in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Each Total War game is based on a historical time and a specific area. In Shogun, it was in Japan, with samurais and ninjas. In Medieval II, there were heavy plated knight cavalry, crusaders, kings, princes and princesses. The objectives in this installment were more interesting than the previous few, where each faction had different goals, usually in line with some historical events such as the Battle of Agincourt

Screenshot: Historical Battle mode, Battle of Agincourt

The Lens of Meaningful Choices #39

The first thing new comers will tell you when they first try this game is that they are at a loss of what to do first. The campaign in Medieval II starts you off with a few towns and few units and yet, the choices you must make seemed overwhelming and significant. Right from the start, the player must think: Should I train troops? What troops should I train? Should I move my princess towards forging relations with my neighbors? Or should I let my diplomat handle those? What should I build? Should I take over that rebel settlement to the north? Should I raise taxes? Should I let my priest stay in this town or move somewhere else to spread our religion?

Screenshot: The starting lands of the Holy Roman Empire

There are a lot more choices and they are all significant and meaningful in your strategy. Each action you take in the campaign determines how your kingdom fares. The player decides whether to forgo short term gains for possible long-term benefits. Each action also affects all other factions attitude towards you and may spell your doom if everyone in the region hates you.

That is what makes Total War games fun, and in Medieval II, the number of choices players must make are even more than the previous games, which made gameplay a lot more dynamic and diverse. One example is the Pope system, where you must choose whether to obey the pope demands or to risk the pope commanding a crusade against you.

Screenshot: The Pope and Cardinals window

While there are a few dominant strategies to allow you to win the game with slightly more ease, there is enough randomness in the game and it’s AI to keep players on their feet. Cavalry is strong in the game, you can have an army stocked with full plated cavalry, but you might just run into an enemy with so many heavy spearmen that your horses will only charge against what seems like brick walls. Furthermore, there is a hidden pride from the Total War community to complete your campaign with some form of limitations imposed on yourself. Such as using no cavalry, or to role play as an evil oppressor and lead by fear instead of respect of the people.

The Lens of Goals #32

However, no matter which way you choose to play it, the goal of the game is clear and simple: Complete dominance no matter what. The goal of the game was made clear right from the start, to win the campaign, you must defeat your enemies and conquer a certain number of lands. It is this clear and simple goal that brought about replay value, as there are many ways to attain your goal, and your campaign will never be the same twice.

Along the way, smaller goals known as missions appear to guide players towards the goals. The missions could be to conquer a certain castle or to form a certain alliance with a faction. These goals not only guides players, they reward players for completing them with more resources for their conquest.

Screenshot: Mission Success

Even so, players can still decide whether to do these missions and that will eventually depend on the player’s strategy. Players can choose to complete the mission and ally with another, or if they feel that they are strong enough, they can reject the mission, create their own goal of eliminating the faction and take over their resources. Even at the end of the game, players can choose to set their own goals to take over the rest of the lands to gain an achievement.

The Lens of Visible Progress #55

After hundreds of choices, tens of missions and a scary number of bloodied battlefields, one of the best rewards of the game is to see your faction grow and paint the map with your own color. The progress is not fast by any means, but to see your several hours of effort transform one tiny province into entire continents of land you own makes everything worth it.

Screenshot: The Holy Roman Empire expands

Not only the land, but hours of fighting and training later, you would end up with an army of the highest training, best equipment and invaluable experience to help fight your way to becoming the ultimate conqueror as your war machine pushes through your enemies like a hot knife through butter (Although at higher difficulties, your enemy would have built up a similar army).

Of course, like any kingdom, the more progress you make, the more problems arise. A large kingdom may be too spread out, so players will now have to deal with lack of authoritarian presence, unhappy citizens, civil unrest and a large border to defend. Progress in this game brings about new challenges and can keep a player hooked for hours trying to keep their kingdom afloat and expand at the same time.

Screenshot: Unhappy citizens riot

The Lens of Balance #53

The factions in this game are NOT balanced. I think that is the only reason why after completing the game so many times, players come back for more by choosing other factions. By playing as the English, you start of with a decent amount of land, your bowmen are incredibly deadly and can go head to head with the toughest roman squads you encounter. You are surrounded by rebel settlements which you can take easily and occupy.

Screenshot: Start of England campaign, you can expand to York, Bruges and Rennes easily

After winning as the English, you might find yourself with a different footing if you chose to try out another faction. As Scotland, the roles are reversed. You start of with one land at the very north of the game map. Directly south blocking your way from the rest of the land, is the great English empire.

Screenshot: Start of Scotland campaign, you only can get to Iverness as England will take York

Each faction has different traits, starting areas and enemies. The land around each faction is also different such that your strategies must adapt. It is this lack of balance between factions that makes things interesting. Each Total War game have designed their balance such that I feel like I’m playing a totally different game when trying out other factions.


10/10 on steam, overwhelmingly positive. This game may be arguably one of the best Total War games ever released. Although the graphics are a little dated, but the gameplay and mechanics are marvelous. Personally, I own the latest Total War: Warhammer II and am excitedly waiting for Three Kingdoms. But I have played Medieval II the most. Besides, when I’m stuck in school and my laptop can’t handle the newer games, I ride with my crusaders to once again dominate the world of Medieval II: Total War.



Metal Slug 3

Metal Slug 3

Metal Slug 3 is a run and gun video game developed by SNK. It was originally released in 2000 for Neo-Geo MVS arcade platform as the sequel to Metal Slug 2 and Metal Slug X. It is the last of the series of Metal Slug to be produced under the name of SNK. Many new features such as new weapons and vehicles, introducing branching paths are added to this game. Many fans think this is the highest quality in the series. Its difficulty in the series is also regarded the highest.

video link:

Lens #7: The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad

Metal Slug 3 is a 2D side-scrolling shooter game. Its main mechanics is very simple: just kill all the enemies by all means! (but sometimes enemies are friends to help you..) Other things about mechanics are as follow (rules and procedures)

  • play single or only 2 people play together
  • Goals: clear or escape everything that may kill you and then defeat the boss
  • Actions: roles can shoot, jump, ran, crouch, get into a vehicle, and get weapons
  • one role can only have one single life
  • there are many weapons to intensify fire
  • choose different path to enter the next scene
  • kill the Boss with your weapon and enter the next level


At first player’s aim is to diminish the rebellion army orchestrated by General Morden but at last player will find the Morden is fake and actually it is an alien. So player will fight against the alien with the rebellion army in the last level. Cause the structure of the whole story is not linear (player can choose different paths), so the player will have different experience at each path. Enemies can be everything from everywhere, soldiers on the ground, crabs in the water, zombies marching on the land, flowers jumping from cliff, aliens flying in the sky etc. Player can also drive various vehicles (animals) to fight and run.


Music: Under different circumstances, players may hear different background music. The music of the Metal Slug 3 was developed by Noise Factory and it is also a selling point. Sometimes the music will give players a mood tension, but after the battle the role may sit on the ground and sigh and the background music will be more pleasant. There were many other sound effects that helped tell the story too.

Influence: The players will be surrounded by all kinds of enemies and bullets so it is full of elements of thriller and have a great visual impact on every one. This game will make you immersed in the war and feel just like a lonely hero. Even if a little careless control, you may lose your life and a coin so it has also made a great fortune for the arcade games’ owner.

Story: the story of the game is not very complicated but very interesting, first you fight against rebellion army but at last you fight with them against aliens. What the branching path bring to the players is also very impressive, that means, players will find everything may be evil.

Appearance: the appearance of the Metal Slug 3 is very sophisticated and advanced at that time. Maybe dark metal color and orrange are the theme color of the game. This will give players a deep impression and a feeling of combat. Even in today, the screen of this game is also a classic style of war games.


  • Some tracking bullets
  • Intellegent marching enemies

Lens #15: The Lens of the Toy

As we all know, the Metal Slug series are very classic run and gun video games. Its goal is very obvious, even a very little child will use the gun to fire those ugly or evil guys coming from other sides. Besides, there are lots of weapons to pick up and use which will add more possibility. Users will certainly continue the game even if they have no advanced weapons because even a pistol will make a difference. From my own perspective, players will become very proud of using the pistol to eliminate those bad guys. As for those powerful weapons such as the laser gun and tracking guns, it will be pretty cool when you use it to shoot at the enemy. Imagine what is you can ride on the vehicles not only the tank and plane but also the elephant and ostrich to fight against your enemy?

Lens #16: The Lens of the Player

Almost every people in the game world wants to be a hero. They have the impetus to kill the evil guys and save the world. Metal Slug 3 is the game that satisfy people’s this kind of  fundamental need. It’s a coolest thing that you single guy with nobody to help you and to eliminate those metal monster by yourself. You may die lots of times, but next time, the player will still have the desire to shoot  at the enemies. Maybe more boys would like to play this kind of game than girls. It will definitely elevate every player’s blood pressure.

Lens #27: The Lens of Skill

The most important skill of Metal Slug 3 is to escape from the bullet rains. More practice will certainly make sense for players who should run or jump or crouch when there are bullets full of screen. Skills needed:

  • nimble reaction and movement
  • patience to try many times
  • hardheaded mind when facing enemies from every side

During the practice, the players can also have so much fun with pity at the same time. Though it is very hard for most of people, there is still many ways (buy as many coins as possible) for players to go. Besides, after many trials, people will find various method to kill the boss as soon as possible and in these attempts people will experience differently.

Lens #1: The Lens of Essential Experience

Right from the very beginning of Metal Slug 3, it could tell the players “this was going to be a wild ride”. The opening mission drops the player off on a sunny beach, which at first seems almost peaceful and comforting, until the rotting fish carcasses and crash-landed rockets littering the dunes come into view. Suddenly, a bunch of huge, mutated crabs swarm the beach and start attacking in hordes. These all denote that it will give players an amazing experience. Players will experience this shoot-and-run game under too much tension. You may be impressed by the dazzling bullets and various kinds of enemies. There’s just something about the Martians in the Metal Slug series that I find particularly compelling. It probably has a lot to do with their appearance. They’ve got huge, bulbous heads and a tangle of crazy, spaghetti-like appendages wiggling about all over the place. It’s actually a pretty typical alien design, but somehow it really works. The animations for the tentacles are just gorgeous, and totally mesmerizing. With the comparison to games nowadays, it may not be very beautiful in design, but in that case, all the levels of Metal Slug 3 can still bring us infinite imagination and fun no matter in its design or its cunning concept.

Lens #71: The Lens of Freedom

As for the freedom of the Metal Slug 3, I think players will not get too much cause the whole games are separated into different levels and the levels then are separated into different scenes. In one scene, player can control their roles to jump and run everywhere they want, but cannot let the role enter next scene until they eliminate all the enemies appearing in the screen. What’s more, sometimes the players are supposed to find the right place to dodge enemies’ attack. That is a little similar to the statement of our The Lens of Skill. It is a kind of skill player should learn but also a kind of constraint.

Torchlight II


Game Description

Torchlight II is an action role-playing game (ARPG) developed by Runic Games, released on September 20, 2012. Torchlight II takes place in a fantasy world where the player controls the hero in the story to banish the evil from the world. Torchlight II has been rated 9.1/10 on the Imagine Games Network (IGN) which praised the game saying, “Torchlight II doesn’t do anything radically new, but does everything incredibly well. It fits all the pieces of varied monster behavior, interesting items, excellent skill design and random surprises together into a near-perfect formula, where the action never stops and rewards are never far away.” The game has sold almost 3 million copies as of 2015.


Lens of Essential Experience (#1)

The essence of Torchlight II is about wholesale and gleeful slaughter. Such essential experience is captured and enhanced by a series of actions of the player:

  • Fight with huge packs of monsters until they die and spill gold and gear all over the ground.
  • Scan item stats to see if any can serve as an upgrade.
  • Earn experience to level up. Improve attributes and learn new skills or upgrade skills to make the character more powerful.
  • Move on to the next monster pack and repeat.

A player can do this for around 30 hours until the final boss is killed, and then start up New Game Plus (NG+) and repeat the whole process.

“torchlight II wholesale killing”的图片搜索结果

Furthermore, the story-line is simple and background introduction is very short. The player is dropped into fields of monsters within a few minutes of starting up. The story or game plot is not much emphasized on, but it is the experience of slaughter that is important. Torchlight II clearly gets straight to the point.

Additionally, the pet system allows the player to keep slaying monsters without going back to town. The pet can serve as an alternative inventory and can be sent off to sell unwanted gear while the play keep killing monsters in dungeons. Pet can also buy potions and scrolls. The player needs not worry about selling gear and buying necessities which may cause irritation and hinder the gleeful and smooth experience of slaughter.


Lens of Endogenous Value (#5)

Torchlight II is a typical loot-driven ARPG and items such as gear and gems are highly valuable to the players as they have direct impact on damage and survival of the character, which enhances players’ enjoyment in slaying monsters.

Items dropped from monsters are totally randomized. The player does not know what kinds of loot he will get from killing monsters. Sometimes it is a basic two-hand sword that the player will never use, sometimes it is a legendary mage staff with high damage and perfect stats, which when equipped inspires great confidence and a feeling of ever-growing power to the player. Players will place higher value on items that are useful and can complement to their play styles. Players are motivated to constantly kill monsters and defeat dungeon bosses to hunt for treasures.

“torchlight II”的图片搜索结果



Lens of Challenge (#31)

There are four levels of difficulty in Torchlight II. People with different levels of skills and familiarity of the game can choose the level of challenge that is most suitable for them. The character gets increasingly powerful by levelling up and gear upgrading, as well as the monsters. Player will neither feel too easy to kill the monsters, nor too hard. There is balance between boss challenge and entertainment value. People are not just grinding by spamming healing and mana portions but must dodge spells of the dungeon boss and take certain strategies to defeat it.

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Lens of Meaningful Choices (#32)

Upon level up, attribute and skill points are earnt. Players must decide on how to distribute the attribute points as there is attribute and level restriction on gear. Since attribute points cannot be reset, players must be careful when they make the decision. There are three specializations for each class in terms of spells and passive skills. Since skill points are limited (one for each level), each character has a unique set of skills, which gives its player a powerful sense of identity. Every decision made in the skill tree is important because only 3 skill points can be reset and it is expensive. There is no dominant strategy in Torchlight II. No choice is wrong and it is a matter of preference.

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Lens of Elemental Tetrad (#7)

Mechanics: the main mechanics of Torchlight II are simple and designed in a way to maximize players’ gleeful experience in slaying monsters. The main procedures of the game are as follows:

  • Receive a quest given by Non-Player Characters (NPCs).
  • Kill monsters on the map while searching for quest item and target.
  • Defeat dungeon bosses if needed.
  • Complete the quest, and repeat.

Story: as the focus of Torchlight II is on slaughter of monsters and boss challenge, the story-line is extremely short and simple. Players learn about brief background story via the beginning cinematic which takes about thirty seconds. The rest of story is incorporated into the quests. The story is neither creative nor attractive – simply a cliché of the hero defeating the evil. However, under such circumstances, the slaughter of players is morally justified, and players would not feel guilty but instead, enjoy the execution of righteous punishment.

Aesthetics: Torchlight II adopts 2.5D graphics in Steampunk style. Characters and monsters are not very detailed and real. This prevents players from being terrified of blood, skeletons and corpse. The cartoon style graphics, in fact, make people happier and more relaxed. The scene is slightly dark and sometimes rainy. The weather effect creates depressing atmosphere. The music of Torchlight II changes every scene, and creates different feeling. For example, the music of desert has much lower pitch and slower rhythm than that of rain-forest. The music changes drastically once the dungeon boss comes out. It becomes faster and more intense, which makes players more excited and concentrated. The user interface is clean and simple. Big health and energy “circles” are used instead of typical “bars” because during fighting, players can simply glance at them while focusing on killing monsters.

Technology: Torchlight II is only available on PC, more specifically, Windows. Only simple mouse clicking and keyboard buttons are involved. Players would not have any difficulty in controlling the character.

“Torchlight II”的图片搜索结果


Lastly, I would like to share some of my personal feeling when playing this game. Since Torchlight II is developed by the same team of designers of Diablo II and released in the same year of Diablo III by Blizzard, people often compare them. At the beginning, Torchlight II was much better in many aspects, including companion (pet) system, skill tree and boss fighting mechanics. However, when the expansion pack Diablo III: Reaper of Souls came out, Torchlight II was far behind in terms of its multi-player system and it was the major downfall. People will eventually get tired and bored when they keep doing the same thing. The happiness and excitement that they can obtain from the game will drop drastically as playing time increases. They need a constant motivation which can make them stick to the game longer. Diablo III came up with the seasonal ranking system where players have to start from zero in every season and gears are constantly updated. That is why we can see many players come back to Diablo III when every season starts. I enjoyed playing Torchlight II and I still do. I really hope Runic Games can continue to produce good games.


XCOM 2 is primarily a turn based strategy game with additional layers of base building and resource management built on top of it.

Note: This analysis is based on the base game with the Reinforcement DLC Pack, but does not include the War of the Chosen expansion.

Aliens have taken over the Earth after the failure of the original Earth defence project, known as XCOM. Despite promises of building a bright new future for humanity, there are those who suspect the aliens of harbouring darker intentions.

Players reprise their role as the Commander, leader and strategist of the original XCOM project, and attempt to the lead a rebellion born from the ashes of XCOM against the aliens.

Lens of the Elemental Tetrad #7

  • Mechanics

The base mechanics of the game are simple. Every mission, complete the objectives given to you to succeed. Complete missions to stall the aliens’ progress towards their ultimate goal (and your loss). Shoot enemies to kill them (hit chance is decided by a percentage dice roll).

  • Aesthetics

Aesthetically, XCOM 2 goes for an animated cinematic touch to bring alive the otherwise plain combat scenes within the game. Different actions can trigger real time rendered action sequences that give the player a more involved feel.

Accordingly, the music of XCOM 2 is very dramatic to reflect this same cinematic feeling and helps to increase the tension of the various scenarios the player is put into.

In terms of user interface, the game tries for something very clean and simple, but does end up cutting a bit too much information, and ends up hindering players.

  • Story

XCOM 2 takes place 20 years after the first XCOM, and puts players in the shoes of the rebellion, aimed at overthrowing the alien rulers of the world.

  • Technology

While the missions within XCOM 2 resemble table top exercises, they have made good use of the affordances of computing to more realistically simulate changes in the environment (such as blowing up cover) and to progressively generate new maps for players to work in.

Lens of Chance #29

When people talk about XCOM, there is one quintessential experience most players have all shared. Having a soldier shoot an enemy at point blank range, and missing.

Chance plays an enormous role in XCOM, with every shot fired, whether by your troops or your enemies decided by a dice roll. Taking a core mechanic of the game and leaving it entirely up to random number generation is a move that few other successful games have taken, and this bold design decision ultimately makes the game what it is. The pain of missing 95% shots, and the immense satisfaction of pulling off a low percentage shots are a well-recognised part of gameplay within the XCOM series.

This is where player skill comes in. Positioning is key in XCOM as cover and height advantages can increase the odds of one’s troops successfully landing shots. Players have to make use of the available terrain and various soldier skills to turn the odds of landing a shot to their favour whilst lowering the odds of enemies being able to return shots successfully.

Lens of Surprise #2

The best part of playing XCOM 2 for the first time is the fact that every enemy is a surprise. Players experienced with the franchise will find that familiar foes have been reworked, not only in looks, but abilities as well. And a whole host of new adversaries give even veteran players a lot to think about when first encountering them. More often than not, when encountering a new enemy for the first time, XCOM 2 still manages to take the player completely by surprise when it’s time for the aliens to make their move.

But after this initial surprise, XCOM 2 does become a slowly become grind as players figure out how to play out the various maps and missions versus these foes.

Another aspect of XCOM that is filled with surprises is the fog of war. Within this fog, enemies lie in wait hoping to catch the player out of position. While players eventually can use solider abilities to scout out some of these ambushes, it is not always possible to get a jump on your enemies. This leads us into the next lens, the lens of problem solving.

Lens of Problem Solving #6

Once caught up in an engagement with the enemy, XCOM 2 becomes a huge table top exercise, that seeks to push the player’s ability to strategise and problem solve to the limit. With limited actions per solider, players must be able to correctly prioritise targets and movement order to be able to take out enemies.

In addition, every mission during XCOM’s rebellion campaign is a new puzzle for the player to solve. While the type of missions given to player are fairly limited, the procedurally generated maps and increasingly diverse enemy pool still manages to give players a challenging problem to solve each time.

The introduction of hard turn limits also pose a new obstacle that players must work around, sometimes having to forfeit individual missions in order to keep their overall campaign alive.

Lens 2: Lens of Story #70

The storyline of XCOM 2 is what serves to hold the entire game together. Without it, the game would not be able to stand significantly apart from its predecessor. Should we go further as to remove the context of its predecessor, the game would further lose meaning and dissolve into a series of bland table top combat exercises.

Besides the overall narrative of the story, the slow improvements and rank increases of individual soldiers also serves as small individual stories within the game itself. While not in missions, XCOM 2 takes the effort to render individual soldiers performing routine tasks like training, or eating, even going as far as creating a memorial for fallen soldiers.


Nioh is an action role-playing game developed by Team Ninja and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment in early 2017 for the PlayStation 4. A port for Microsoft Windows was also released later in the year, which contained all of the title’s downloadable content.

Set in the early 1600s Japan, the events of the game take place in a fictionalised version of the Sengoku period, a part of Japanese history marked by civil war and political conflicts. In this game, the player accompanies the main character on his journey across a foreign land filled with danger, conflict and supernatural beings.

Lens of the Elemental Tetrad

The four basic elements of the game are implemented harmoniously and as a result they provide a coherent and engrossing narrative as well as gameplay experience for the player.

Story – Based on the life of William Adams, an English navigator turned Western samurai, the game’s plot revolves around an Irish sailor’s (also named William) pursuit of the antagonist in order to retrieve what was stolen from him. His journey leads him through foreign soil engulfed in war and yokai (supernatural beings in Japanese folklore). Throughout the game, William encounters and interacts with various historical figures from the Sengoku period including Tokugawa Ieyasu, Hattori Hanzo and Ii Naomasa. In order to achieve his goals, William ends up forming alliances and help repel the opposition, be it human or yokai.

Aesthetics – Through the game’s design choices, the setting is presented excellently. The characters are outfitted accordingly for the time period, featuring traditional samurai armour, shinobi garb and weapons that were not out of place. Equally fitting, the environment is populated with traditional Japanese architecture such as castles, temples, shrines and dojos. Levels are lit properly, conveying scenes of serenity, destruction or danger realistically. The decision to have most characters speak Japanese furthers the immersion, given that English-speaking Japanese were rare during that era. When some of them do speak, they do so with an accent. All these come together to let the player feel that they, like William, have stepped foot on a foreign country with its own culture and history.

Mechanics – The game is divided into discrete levels, with distinct objectives assigned, such as slaying a boss enemy, acquiring an item of strategic value or rescuing a character. Often compared to the Soulsborne games (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls and Bloodborne), the gameplay focuses mainly on third-person melee combat. On top of that, William is also able to engage in ranged combat via bows, rifles, shurikens, talismans etc. Players can also cast spells or consume items to provide various buffs as they deem fit to deal with the situation at hand. Iconic to the Soulsborne games as well as the titles it inspired, upon death the player drops experience points currently carried at the location of death. If the player dies before returning to the same location and reclaiming it, what was dropped is simply lost.

Technology –  The game engine utilised was built from scratch and offers graphical fidelity and performance that is worthy of a modern 3D title. This allows the game to present great visuals and fluidity, making it a joy to witness as well as play.

Lens of Challenge

  • Enemies, even common ones, can swiftly end the player’s life in a few hits if given the chance. While it is true that casual gamers are likely to have issues with the difficulty, the game is in actuality not as hard as it is demanding. Players are equipped with appropriate tools to deal with enemies such dodging or blocking, and by observing the enemy attack animation, it is the player’s carelessness for getting hit.
  • Apart from combat, other challenges exist in the form of environmental hazards. Poison filled caverns or pitfalls demand the player’s awareness of their surroundings, especially in the heat of a battle.
  • As the game progresses, the challenge steadily rises as new enemies and levels make their appearances, requiring the players to observe and explore anew.

With a proper understanding of the mechanics and a careful playthrough, the difficulty of the game is just right, and challenges the player consistently through the game.

Lens of Meaningful Choices

  • Various shrines are placed in each levels. Praying at one refills recovery supplies, offers a chance to level up the character and saves the game progress. Doing so however, respawns all enemies in the level. The player thus has a choice between regaining safety at the cost of incurring potentially more damage when facing the respawned enemies, or pushing on with the current state.
  • The game offers seven classes of melee weapons, with their own unique traits in terms of attack speed, reach etc. Each of them have separate skill trees and the choice of which skills to invest in would provide different strategic options.
  • Different armour have different weights. By wearing heavy armour, the player would be able to survive more damage and block attacks more effectively. This however, reduces the player’s agility and dodging effectiveness. Conversely, opting for a light armour makes a player more agile and fragile at the same time.
  • The playstyle is also an avenue for choice. A player could try and rush through each level, minimising danger but also resources like experience points, currency and crafting materials. Alternatively, one could choose to fight every enemy present, maximising the resources but also the risk of death.

As a result, different players will likely have different experiences with the game depending on the choices made. Even the same player can experience combat in a new way by switching to a different set of equipment.

Lens of Punishment

  • As aforementioned, dying carries the punishment of losing the experience points recently earned. All slain enemies are also respawned. This however, allows the player the face whatever killed them again, making them more familiarised with the game and motivating them to not make the same mistake once more.
  • The ease of dying to enemies can be an indicator to the players that they may need to adopt a different strategy or that their equipment is in need of upgrading.
  • Some levels are designed with terrain where players can fall to their death easily. This in turn teaches the player to be more aware of their surroundings, while also showing them a potential way of killing enemies

While punishing, the game does not punish for no reason. It is done so fairly, and provide opportunities for player improvement.

Lens of Visible Progress

  • As the game progresses, the player will have access to more and better weapons, armour and utility items. These items usually possess better aesthetics, names, abilities and sell value. Not only will the player become stronger in terms of stats, they will also see the character wielding more attractive items.

  • The skill tree in the game lets player see progress, even ahead of time. This provides something to look forward to unlocking. Furthermore, skills unlocked further into the game tend to be stronger, allowing players to participate in combat more effectively.
  • When the players proceed further into the game, they encounter stronger enemies which offers different challenges. Moreover, previously introduced enemies will appear more frequently, indicating to the players that they have progressed such that the game has to present more danger.

  • Preliminary background information can be unlocked for characters, yokai and the culture of the time period upon encountering them. Further entries pertaining to a topic are acquired the more a player interacts with said topic, such as by slaying an amount of a particular enemy, or completing a character’s questline.

Thus, a sense of progress is easily felt by the player.

Persona 5

Persona 5 is a Japanese role-playing game developed by P-Studio and published by Atlus. It features a high-school protagonist who was put on probation for an assault case where he was wrongly accused. He later finds out of another world called the Metaverse that is born out of the subconscious desires of humanity. Together with his new found friends, they create a secret vigilante group known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts with the goal of eliminating injustice in society. With the power of their Personas, they “steal” the hearts of malicious adults and cause them to repent in the real world.

The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad
The game uses an excessive amount of red and with the white and black supplementary colors, brings out an aggressive color theme. This theme is emphasized heavily as can be seen from the UI and text. Together with a comic-like text style, the game produces a bold and eye-catching interface. This bold use of colors caught my attention and even though it was striking at first, I eventually came to appreciate the uniqueness, character and beauty of it. This kind of theme is never seen in other games and is definitely a fresh and welcomed change to many gamers.
Apart from its beautiful interface, the game uses songs that will get players hook on to the game. The songs used tie in very nicely with the player’s current situation as it brings out emotions fitting of the scenes.

Persona 5 story revolves around a protagonist who was wrongly accused for a crime he did not commit. It follows the events of the protagonist as he gets on with his social and academic life in Shujin Academy. As the story progresses, he gets to meet more allies, known as Confidants, and eventually realized that they share a similar fate with him. Being victims of an unjust world, they set their minds to stand up against the injustice of society.

One of the main mechanics of the game is the deadline for each chapter, where the game will be over if the objective is not met. There are also social stats and relationships that have to be leveled up to unlock more content to the story and all this has to be done within the deadline.
Also, this is a turn-based strategy game which hinges heavily on exploiting enemy weaknesses and certain technicalities that allows for dealing more damage. Within each chapter / dungeon, there are limited save points for the player which adds on to the difficulty of the game.

Persona 5 is exclusive to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. The graphics is drawn with an anime-like style and objects are less detailed. This means that it is not as graphically intensive as many of the other AAA games. It uses a game engine that is created internally by Atlus and also Criware for development.

The Lens of Curiosity
Persona 5 instills curiosity into the players by showing bits and pieces of information every now and then in the game. Some conversations are carried out vaguely with no proper explanation. In an attempt to find out the truth, it motivates me to play the game to get to the ending. It constantly reminds players of these questions and leak more information at further stages of the game. What makes it special is the vast number of questions it plants into players and how eventually all these questions comes together to form a bigger picture. One such question occurs when the protagonist gets introduced to the Metaverse. The game claims that the protagonist needed rehabilitation in order to not step into the path of ruin. This concept is reinforced at many different junctions and the game is not quick to release any information on it. Finding out the truth to these questions is one of the many highlights of the game.

The Lens of Challenge
The biggest challenge of the game is the need to race against time. Due to the deadline and the limited number of actions a player can do within a day, it is essential that one spends his time wisely and plan for the days ahead. I find this important as accomplishing it will allow me to unlock more story content.
Besides that, the limited number of checkpoints within the chapters / dungeons means that I have to be on high alert throughout the dungeon. One small mistake will result in the frustration of having to restart from the last checkpoint. To make it more challenging, players are unaware of the weakness of new enemies and would have to figure them out as they encounter more of them. Furthermore, enemies use the same combat mechanics as the player and they are capable of exploiting the weakness of the characters in the party. A normal enemy encountered in the dungeon can potentially cause the game to be over.

The Lens of Skill
Persona 5 required me to be pro-active in finding out the weaknesses of new enemies so that I can exploit them during a fight. There is a system in the game which allows for Persona fusions (i.e. combining enemies obtained during combat to produce new Personas / enemies), so that one may know of the weaknesses of new enemies that are to be encountered in a later dungeon. With these knowledge and coupled with other technical skills during combat (e.g. wind skills doing more damage on a burned enemy, all out attack), a player can easily gain the advantage in the fight. On top of that, there are enemies with no weaknesses and enemies that are prone to exploiting status benefits. These enemies required me to think on my feet and adjust my strategy accordingly. I find myself getting better at the game as I played more of it as I understand more of the combat system, strengths and weaknesses of all my characters.

The Lens of Character Transformation
Persona 5 is filled with many different characters with many different unique background stories. One of the main highlights of the game is spending time with these characters and finding out more about them. Many a times, these characters are not what they seem to be. These changes are conveyed through sequences of dialogue options and giving different responses will garner different reactions from the characters, which makes the exchange seem more realistic. As the characters slowly open up to the protagonist, I get to learn more about them and start to empathize with their situation. The different hardships that many of them go through are very relatable to the protagonist and they tie in strongly with the theme of the game where the weak is oppressed by the injustice of society.

Diner Dash

Diner Dash is a strategical and time management game developed by GameLab and published by PlayFirst. It is one of the most popular games, available on multiple platforms such as Windows, Mac and mobile.

In this game, the player takes up the role of Flo, a hardworking worker working in a restaurant. The gameplay revolves around serving of customers and earning as much revenue as possible. As the levels increases, different types of customers are introduced, each with unique personalities and tipping patterns, and more items are introduced as well.

Lens #7 The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad


The goal of each stage is very clear – to serve as many customers as possible, without angering them, before the restaurant closes for the day. For each group of customer(s), there is a fixed procedure of actions to take from taking the order to clearing up the dishes. However, within this very procedural set of actions, extra bonus points comes from entertaining the customers and placing customers on seats corresponding to their shirt colours etc. This creates variations in the gameplay and makes routine steps interesting.


The background of the story is about a greedy landlord planning to demolish 4 restaurants in order to build a Mega Multiplex Food Plaza instead. Flo, being friends with the restaurant owners, came to the rescue. Through working 10 shifts a day, she plans to help her friends in upgrading their restaurants and make it more attractive to customers. By doing this, the restaurant can then earn enough revenue to pay the exorbitant rents charged by the landlord.


The artwork of the game is relatively simple but easily understood. Each customer has their own unique traits: for example, cellphone addicts are constantly on the phone and talks loudly, and these are portrayed clearly in the game. The appearance of the restaurant also improves along the stages, from a run-down restaurant to a modern-looking restaurant. This makes the player feels more attached to the gameplay as one can feel the sense of achievement in upgrading the restaurant.


The gameplay only involves simple mouse clicking and can run on many different platforms without additional plug-ins. This makes it very convenient and easy to start the game without additional technical difficulties.

Lens #42 The Lens of Simplicity/Complexity

I like how Diner Dash is a simple and clear game, yet still addictive and complex. The elegance of the game comes from the entire setting of the game. In our daily life, we definitely go to a restaurant or at least saw a restaurant before and know the work flow in there. This makes the game rules self-explanatory and easy to grasp. First, the customers will be ushered in and seated. Then they will look at the menu and calls on the waitress to make their order. The food arrives, and customers can choose to opt for dessert after their main course. Finally, customers will settle their bill and the waitress will clear the table so that the next customer can be seated. Though the steps are fixed for each customer, the confusion comes when the player has to multitask between tables and ensuring that the food does not end up on the wrong table. This creates complexity within a simple game, making the game interesting despite the simple game elements.

Lens #77 The Lens of Character Traits

Being a service industry type of game, different types of customers is a must have in the game. Each type of customer has a distinct and unique character, where they vary in the level of patience and tipping. For example, businesswomen are impatient, fast eaters, and gives moderately high tips, while seniors are relatively slow eaters, gives low tips and are very patient.

Moreover, what makes the game more interesting is the interaction between characters. For example, cellphone addicts constantly talks loudly on the phone and this creates much noise disturbance for the bookworms, resulting in them having a bad impression on the restaurant. These interactions between customers makes the game more challenging as the player has to plan the seating arrangement strategically to manage the customers well.

Lens #39 The Lens of Time

In the game, time is crucial. Similar to real-life, angry customers can leave the queue or restaurant if they are unsatisfied with the service. In Diner Dash, customers’ mood is indicated by a series of hearts over their heads. Waiting too long in the queue or for the orders will cause the customers to lose hearts, while providing complimentary drinks or giving interesting speeches can improve customers’ mood.

Every second is precious in the game and the player is constantly busy having to attend to many customers. The sense of urgency can be felt throughout the gameplay and it is only until the restaurant has closed for the day then the player can take a rest.

Lens #32 The Lens of Meaningful Choices

Choices come about when the player has to make decisions whether to play safe or to take risks. This comes from the bonus points in the game. For example, when customers are seated in the correct colour order labelled by their clothes and the colour of the chairs, and chain bonus from Flo performing the same action (eg clearing dishes) multiple times in a row.

However, these actions comes with risks as the chairs may be labelled with a colour scheme similar to a customer at the back of the queue but by ushering that customer in first may result in losing the front customer as they may have waited very long in the queue and lost their patience. This triangularity in the game forces the player to think strategically within a limited time, creating suspense and tension within the gameplay.



Terraria is a sandbox 2D game with gameplay that revolves around exploration, building, and combat. The game starts in a procedurally generated world and the player starts with three basic tools: a pickaxe for mining, a shortsword for combat, and an axe for woodcutting, which is reminscent of classic resource gathering games like Minecraft. The world is open and large, and the player is encouraged to gather or spelunk for rare resources to craft better equipment, armor and miscellaneous items.
This game allows for different progression speeds, allowing players to either go slow, like designing their base or start building projects, or go fast, like speed-running through the bosses. There is a deep progression tree – beating one boss or performing a very specific action unlocks more things.

Lense of Elemental Tetrad

Terraria has a large number of biomes – from the underground jungles to sky islands to underground crystal caverns, each having their unique soundtracks, collectibles and themed monsters.

Underground Jungle Biome in Terraria

Terraria was initially available on Desktop, and has since been ported over to Android, iOS, XBOX ONE, and more. The nature of this game does not require any new tech, but rather the most efficient arrangement and controls settings possible to accommodate the large number of controls. In particular, the Mobile/3DS version has a subset of the controls, especially combat, and compensated for that by introducing auto-aim.

While Terraria doesn’t have that much of a story, it makes up for it by having a very progressive gameplay and intricate unlocking tree. There is a big range of the types of movement in Terraria, and much more so when it comes to weapons, armor, buffs and pets. When progressing through the game, the player would be tempted to keep switching weapons, because certain types are more effective against monsters in certain biomes. Particularly, some bosses are required to be beaten in their specific constrained areas. For example, Plantera requires the player to remain inside the Underground Jungle and Golem inside the Lihzard Temple summoning room.

One example of an equippable item set: Accessories provide certain movement upgrades, like running, walk on water, fly, triple-jump, wall slide or breathe underwater. There are also items which provide convenient effects like teleportation to base, equipped buffs or even quick-wiring that helps in building contraptions in game. The Tinkerer’s workshop, which is a service provided by a NPC that you discover in the underground caverns, offer the option to combine accessories under a crafting tree.

Terraria Accessories Crafting Tree

Lense of Visible Progress

The player will be constantly getting stronger throughout the game – gaining hearts, mana stars, movement upgrades, stronger weapons. The enemies that you avoid at the start might just be fodder to you later on. Additionally, your base will only keep expanding to accommodate for all the new items.

Perhaps, one of the more drastic changes that signifies a new checkpoint in the game progression would be the triggering of Hardmode difficulty, where new enemies are introduced to every biome and the evil biomes now spreads much faster.

Lense of Curiosity

Terraria is a game about discovery. The entire map is available to explore at the start, and the surface is generated such that there will be many interesting features to see, with landscape transformations like hills, sheer cliffs, canyons or potholes. The minimap that gradually fills up as the player explores the map certainly leaves the player wondering “What can I possibly find next if I go this way?”.

Minimap of the Underground Jungle Biome in Terraria

There are a large number of biomes, of which some only appear underground or specific places and they vary in size. Multiple types of treasure rooms or structures appear randomly throughout the map, and is usually discovered by chance while exploring, often offering generous rewards.

Mushroom Biome in Terraria

Some things appear in place of another during level generation, so the player can even expect to see something new when generating and playing another level using the same character. For example, the Crimson and the Corruption are biomes that can never appear together in the same map. This applies to certain sets of end-game ores, as well as certain equipment.

The Crimson Biome

The Corruption Biome

Lastly, there are rare objects or collectibles (including furniture, banners, statues) that are only present in random structures all over the map, which the player can bring back for base building.

Lense of Freedom

Terraria is an inherently exploratory game, where they can choose their playing style: from spelunking, fighting monsters, completing collections, make huge builds or just fighting boss monsters. This is because the major game checkpoints are player-initiated, with the exception of the earlier boss monsters or certain monster waves which they can trigger randomly. It might be overwhelming to a first-time player – you’d have to consult the Terraria Gamepedia all the time to find out what are the uses of certain items, crafting recipes to progress, what not to do and also how to progress. Common mistakes would be summoning Skeletron too early on, by talking a NPC that is easily accessible.

Lense of Skill

Terraria has a progression system which encourages the player to constantly seek to fight tougher monsters in order to get better equipment; rinse and repeat. With better equipment usually comes with them mobility and ability upgrades of the character. There is also a range of attack styles, like swords, bows, boomerangs, flails, guns, etc. The wide range of movements upgrades (as previously mentioned in mechanics) in Terraria might sound hard to master, but in order to traverse the unforgiving terrain, especially underground caverns where there might be steep drops, lava and monsters that can kill the character easily, that becomes a natural skill.

The boss fights in this game is quite challenging, some even requiring tons of preparation, and even building of an arena for the boss. But the more important requirements is to be grokking the bosses’ attacks. The player has an option of turning on “Expert Mode”, where it makes every monster much harder to kill.