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Plant Your Seeds in Terrorarium Early Access

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Terrorarium

Alien mushrooms and a grumpy granny are at the heart of the experience that is Terrorarium. As the game enters Steam Early Access, it shows a lot of promise to create a cute and casual action game with simple mechanics that inspires player creativity.

In Terrorarium, the player takes on the role of a sassy granny with attitude who is known as the Gardener. At her disposal is an army of alien mushrooms called Moogu: cute but terrifying creatures that uncontrollably breed with corpses of dead Moogu. Granny is on a mission to collect dangerous plants for her garden and is not afraid to kill her Moogu to get what she wants.

Terrorarium features two separate game modes: quick play and maker mode. Quick play features a series of levels that teach the basic mechanics of the game. Across the 24 levels of quick play, players are introduced to four types of Moogu—Spicy, Thick, Gooey, and Gassy—each possessing unique abilities that can be used to solve puzzles and avoid monsters to complete the level. The Moogu types also have different breeding multipliers. For example, the Spicy Moogu creates an additional five Moogu for every corpse they breed with. This detail is quite important in some levels by creating the additional challenge of managing the population size either by swapping equipped Moogu type or through carefully planned, deeply enjoyable Moogu murder. 

Completing the quick play levels present varying levels of difficulty. Most can be completed in one run, while others can take a few attempts to ensure enough Moogu are kept dead or alive to meet the population restrictions. Later levels in particular are deceptively hard to manage and complete. However, all of the levels are simple enough to comfortably teach the basics without feeling too tedious or over-complicated.

Maker mode acts as a level creation tool where the player can make and share their own terrorariums. As the game enters Early Access, four basic level types can be selected with each base type encouraging different play styles. Maker mode has no restrictions, thus enabling complete freedom to create interesting content using the variety of assets available. Some of these tools include monsters, decorative plants, destructive terrain, and barriers. Whilst players are given the option to craft puzzling levels, they also have the freedom to curate garden spectacles which are instead for visual enjoyment.

Level creation offers players the opportunity to share their work with the Terrorarium community. Shared levels will be accessible to play in maker mode. This feature is the most exciting future prospect for Terrorarium as players can draw inspiration from the core mechanics introduced in quick play or ignore them altogether to develop unique puzzle solving methods using the assets available.

The cute, low-poly art style is Terrorarium’s biggest appeal as it enters Early Access. The Gardener’s sassy face, squishy tummy, and twig antlers give her such a cute, odd look that captures the player’s attention, even if they do not understand why. The colourful flora, fauna, and Moogu set amidst a subtle background allow them to pop in the landscape.

Terrorarium has a few minor issues that bug the experience which will hopefully be resolved by release. AI pathfinding makes monsters glitch back and forth on the spot before moving, preventing them from acting as a hazard and making them distracting on screen. Adding controller support could alleviate rough camera and gameplay issues. Additionally, some of the signs in the early levels do not depict the button for the control they are trying to teach, which can make learning mechanics difficult for some.

Developer Stitch Media is creating quite a different project with Terrorarium than it is familiar with. The studio’s past credits are mainly interactive or experiential stories and documentaries, some of which are tie-ins with other franchises such as The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Hopefully, Early Access will be a great opportunity for Stitch Media to receive feedback and create a refined game with a focus on longevity through community created content.

Terrorarium has the foundations for a fun, casual experience that will only further develop through Early Access as it finds a community following. Terrorarium will suit players who enjoy creating and designing their own levels, which gives the game a lot of potential moving forward as an enjoyable, sandbox experience. The game may not be revolutionary, but it will be pretty cute for casual, crafty gamers.

What does a fitness instructor like to do with their spare time? Write about video games obviously. Amy has been obsessed with video games ever since watching her parents play Crash Bandicoot on PS1. All these years later, she is thrilled to get to share her thoughts on the games she loves so much.

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E3 2019

Biomutant is Vibrant, Unique, and a Hell of a Lot of Fun

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biomutant

THQ Nordic had a bevy of games available to play on the show floor at this year’s E3. While some attendees eagerly lined up to play Darksiders Genesis (as our own Michael Cripe did), others sought to finally get their hands on Experiment 101’s highly unique Biomutant for a hands-on, 30-minute demo. Thankfully, Biomutant’s E3 demo is more than enough proof that the will end up being something truly special.

After selecting their preferred language, players were given the option to recode their mutant’s DNA, serving as Biomutant’s version of a character customizer. The customization options were satisfying. A circle graph appears on the screen with five key skills the player must find their preferred balance between: strength, agility, intellect, charisma, and vitality. A sixth skill, luck, was also present, but it was not one that the player could influence from the circle graph. This graph not only influences the player’s mutant’s skills but it also directly changes the mutant’s appearance.

Other customization options included determining the mutant’s fur length and primary and secondary colors. Once these options were set, the demo thrusts the player into a mission that begins with riding a hot air balloon  while the narrator speaks of the excitement of an adventure. Enemies begin firing to bring down the hot air balloon and the player is dropped into the action.

Biomutant

The world of Biomutant immediately pops, as the colors were sharp and invoked thoughts of Ratchet &Clank with a slightly more comic-book style. The visuals reflected the conditions of the area, too, with vibrant reds representing intense heat being a memorable example. The first thing that stood out about this sequence was how great the combat felt. Similarly to Insomniac’s Spider-Man and Rocksteady’s Arkham series, sliding through an enemy’s legs while kicking, punching, and shooting felt tight and familiar. In some instances, the game slowed down when a knockout blow was dealt, which was a nice cinematic touch.

Progressing forward saw the player in an area with additional enemies with a larger, more intimidating foe acting as the main objective. This section introduced the Super Wushu attack, which varies depending on the equipped weapon. The most rewarding of these attacks was with the Klonk Fist which was obtained later in the demo. The Klonk Fist offered huge gauntlets that could pummel multiple enemies by mashing the action button.

The key to unlocking the Super Wushu attack involves stringing together combos which felt fairly easy to do. I do not recall ever losing my combo to an enemy attack, as I obtained the special attack fairly often. The combat allowed for those who wished to mash the melee or firing button but also rewards the players who are more tactical in their combos while mixing in shooting with melee attacks.

Biomutant

With the tutorial for the demo out the way, the game continues by having the player go to a different part of the planet. This new area showcased the vibrant greens and life that contrasted the overheated reds from the previous area. After some platforming, the demo descends the player down into the world where Gizmo the Greasemonkey resides.

Biomutant NPC dialogue is spoken by the narrator from the beginning of the demo while the player’s character makes vague sounds during the conversation. This exchange felt a bit underwhelming for the action-RPG as options did not hold any consequences for how the next section plays out and can be skipped without missing out on much of the story or mission objective.

After descending down and exiting an elevator shaft, the player enters a dark, oil-spilt area. The color palette here reflected the same pop to its visuals as the other sections. A mech suit, which was required to clean up the oil, controlled fine, though combat definitely felt better out of the mech suit than in it.

A final enemy awaited which served as the boss fight for the mission. This fight contained three phases with the enemy adding a new attack method from in the second. The third phase, however, took place inside the creature. After taking him down from the inside, the planet’s Tree of Life becomes more alive as indicating a reversal of destitute for the planet.

The demo confirmed the anticipation OnlySP had for Biomutant. The combat felt great and the visuals really popped. THQ Nordic and Experiment 101 may something special on their hands if the rest of the game plays as the demo did.

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