We’ve all been there, we have worked hard, put hours of blood, sweat and tears into a project. Convinced yourself that nothing in the world can better it. You enter that competition with a sense of victory lingering in the air. Yet, the judge overlooks your hard work, and you do not win the coveted first prize. It’s a slap in the face when it happens once, can you imagine the pain when it happens year after year! Welcome to the agony that our gardening granny feels in Terrorarium. A game that is in Early Access, and developed and published by Stitch Media, this is a 3D puzzle game with a twist.
This puzzle platform title has you controlling the little old lady who is on a mission. She plans to right the wrongs dealt to her, as she holds the shameful record for most runner up rosettes. A phone call from her “Bestie” gloating about her victory breaks her resolve. She forms a plan, biological warfare is the only answer. Queue the introduction of the “Moogu”. The “Moogu” are adorable creatures who will decimate any garden in their path. They breed like wildfire and choose when they wish to listen to your command. Traps, pits, obstacles, and explosives will all block your path. Keeping your beloved “Moogu” close ensures that they stay alive, and you solve the puzzles. You can only pass certain areas of each level with the granny, and others with only the “Moogu”. If they touch the water they die, but they can pass through spikes with ease. If the granny touches the spikes, you’ve guessed it, she dies. Creating a plan that enables you to traverse each stage without issue is a difficult task. You will need a fair amount of trial and error and practise to succeed.
Set across 26 stages, you will note a gradual increase in the game’s difficulty level. Traps and new enemies will challenge you as the game mechanics evolve. Numbers highlight the amount of “Moogu’s” required to remove any obstacle in your path. You must toss your followers towards the obstruction, where the number will reduce. Once it hits 0 the problem is overcome, and you can continue your journey. Being wasteful with your pets is unwise, a set number of “Moogu’s” are available. If you run out without completing the stage, it’s game over and you must try again. As already mentioned, they like to breed, find a breeding area, and let them have at it. Your shortage of followers is now solved, unless you do something silly.
The main chunk of this title revolves around the granny and her need to gain revenge. But, if you have a desire to be creative, you can design beautiful gardens, or a botanical nightmare. You upload finished levels for all gamers to experience. Maker mode allows you all the in game assets from the main story. You will get your creative juices flowing, as anything goes. Be as brutal, or as tame as you wish. I didn’t have the patience to design a level from hell. Mine had a few enemies, and some blocks, it was rubbish. Other gamers had created levels that equalled anything the developers had created. This mode will increase the content and will keep the community coming back for more.
The addition of new elements can confuse in some games, but not in Terrorarium. A plaque with a question mark highlights how you complete each task. This idea was good in theory, but in reality all this hand holding made the action feel disjointed. I would rather have a hint system that overcomes any issues if required. I hope that this is something that the developers alter once the game reaches version 1.0. I found that the pace of the game was slow, which reflected the contemplative nature of this puzzle title. I wished there was more going on. Each of the gardens had their own elements of danger, yet you never felt at risk of losing it all, unless you were at fault.
I have concerns when a game is still in Early Access. Key elements may fall short of where they need to be, or it could be unplayable. This isn’t the case in Terrorarium. Its beautiful design and vivid world re a joy to share with the “Moogu”. The level designs start off simple and basic, but build to complex arenas filled with danger. Cartoon graphics, and vivid colours make this a treat for the eyes. The character models are well designed and unique. They move through around the maps with smooth animation. Cinematic scenes punctuate the action. They help to fill in the gaps in the plot, with a humorous and dark twist. And signal your progress into a different landscape. The variety of game assets keep each level fresh, and I never tired of exploring each stage. As you explore, you move behind structures. You can rotate the camera for a better view. Or move as a silhouette of the granny. This allows you to move without colliding with objects, or getting stuck. If I have to find a negative, it would be the dead areas of the maps. You’d gain access by jumping off walls and ramps, which added nothing to the gameplay. The developers should prevent players from entering these sections of the map.
This is quite an unusual and lighthearted affair. Our old protagonist is breaking all the rules to ensure that she is victorious. Luckily, the audio adds to this feeling, a jazzy soundtrack creates a mischievous vibe. This whimsical approach emphasises the cheeky nature of the granny. The sound effects weren’t as ambitious in their design. They felt safe and familiar in comparison. This isn’t a complaint, yet, I would have liked to see something unusual, and wacky. In its current state it suffices, but doesn’t wow you with originality.
I’ve already mentioned the boards used to explain the gameplay mechanics. Holding your hand while you worked out the problems aided the control system. This made this an easy title to get to grips with. You have the choice of the keyboard and mouse, or a game pad. Both are easy to use. Yet, I have spent more time with the controller option. The approach was user friendly, and the button layout was easy to understand. Throwing the “Moogu” is a key mechanic that could have been tough to master. Yet, the addition of a trajectory line simplified the action.
You must complete 26 levels, all with an increasing difficulty. Finishing this game won’t be a quick task, you’ll need between 10 and 15 hours depending on your level of skill. The draw for this title will not be the story, even though it was excellent. It will be the level creator mode that will interest most gamers. There will be a desire to create: the best looking, complex, or most dangerous stage. This will keep players coming back for more. In its current build achievements aren’t available, these will be available for release.
In a game that has an angst-filled granny, who’s hell-bent on plant murder, you wonder, “What have I let myself in for here?” But I was glad that I took the gamble and tried this title. Terrorarium is a fun filled, colourful puzzler that will give you hours of pleasure. Ordering your “Moobu” to kill themselves will tweak at your heartstrings. Yet, you soon get over this once your army is replenished. The in-depth level creator makes this stand out from the crowd, and I’d recommend that you buy it. I’ll be watching this to see how it develops before its release. Biological Warfare is frowned upon, unless you are a granny on a mission to win first place.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 8/10
Biological Warfare is frowned upon, unless you are a granny on a mission to win first place.
- In-depth level creator is excellent.
- Cute cartoon graphics.
- Fun audio.
- Simple controls.
- Interesting game mechanics.
- Too much hand holding.
- Dead space in the maps can be accessed.