Terrorarium Early Access Preview: Rough Around the Edges
I'm a bit of a sucker for games with level editors. They are just the bee's knees when pulled off properly.
As a game focused around level creation, Terrorarium drew me in with its promise of a Pikmin-like focused around destruction and killing your cute little followers instead of helping them.
That all sounded good to me.
Steam Early Access titles vary greatly in terms of quality and polish, as anyone prone to dropping money on Early Access games can tell you. Sometimes a game enters Early Access in a nearly finished state, and sometimes it enters in an alpha or beta state.
At the time of writing, Terrorarium is one of the latter. The little creatures you herd (called Moogu) are cute as buttons and certainly fun to blow up or kill in any number of other ways, but the game is presently quite rough around the edges.
Currently, players are able to push through the game's 24 built-in levels that teach the ins and outs of its physics and mechanics. After that, all that's left is level creation and playing levels other players have uploaded to the Steam Workshop. Developer and publisher Stitch Media has promised a campaign in the future, but for now, you have to rely on the 24 tutorial levels and community-made stages.
The goal of each level, player-made or otherwise, is to lob the target amount of Moogu at a plant-monster called the Fairy Cake Cactus at the end of the level. That doesn't matter too much, though, as the obstacles leading to the Fairy Cake Cactus are the real problem.
Terrorarium provides an impressive amount of interactions between the cutsey Moogu and the monsters and terrain you have to wrangle with. As it turns out, I really like catching things on fire. The base gameplay is surprisingly fun — I can easily imagine some puzzle level scenarios I'd like to work up.
Pushing through the built-in levels taught me enough about how the game's backbone to get started making my own levels, but it didn't prepare me for the sheer amount of assets you can actually use when making a stage.
The game may be rough, but the flexibility of its level editor is definitely notable. Even right now, there are over 100 assets to work with. Each of those assets can be scaled or tweaked to fit how you want the stage to play out.
While the level editor is robust, it's a little unwieldy to use. Sometimes clicks don't register, sometimes they do register but select something on the other side of the screen. The sliders for scaling and rotating aren't too keen on registering click and slides, either.
Unfortunately, these issues make it difficult to really get into making levels. Right now, it's just too much trouble. I'm all for trial and error in games focused around level creation, an obsessive level tester. The clicking issue is a real detriment not just to testing levels, but to making them in general.
It's the game's biggest problem and makes what's supposed to be its bread and butter more of a mashed potato situation.
As it stands, the frequent clicking issues in Terrorarium's level creator make the creation process a chore, and I can't bring myself to complete making a level — heck, I can't even bring myself to make half of one. Having to re-click almost everything really bogs down the whole level creation experience.
Terrorarium is still brand-new to Early Access and has a lot of room to grow. Stitch Media has promised the game will be fleshed out over the six months to a year they plan to keep the game in Early Access, so this is not the end for their Moogu-murder title.
I'd love to give the level editor another go once the clicking issue is sorted out. As it states on Steam, the game really does have a robust level editor and a whole array of assets to use at your disposal; just using the level editor is, at the time of writing, not an enjoyable experience.
The core gameplay and the level editor both have a lot of promise, but Terrorarium needs some work before I can recommend it.