Once in a while, a game thoroughly captures my imagination and with that in mind, here's the delightful void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium.
Ever since I played games such as Torneko: The Last Hope and Chocobo's Dungeon back around the turn of the millennium, I fell in love with the Mystery Dungeon formula and since then, I've enjoyed plenty of fantastic takes on the genre such as the rhythm-focused Crypt of the NecroDancer and the super-silly Loot Rascals. When I saw void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium, it definitely piqued my interest and now that I've played it, I must say that it's one of the best representations of what Mystery Dungeon inspired games can offer.
For starters, it has a unique premise in that it's set in a post-apocalyptic land where you play as a kindly robot who's trying to nurture a lone human girl back to health. You soon meet a friendly artificial intelligence named factoryAI who helps guide you along your journey to care for the girl. It's one of the most heartwarming stories for a video game that I've ever played even if it is a bit simple.
The core gameplay of void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium involves traversing dungeons in order to acquire materials so you can convert them into useful items for the girl such as food, medicine, furniture, and decorations for her bottle-like refuge. I even put a small plushy bunny next to her bed! Anyway, going between the dungeon and the home base where you can exchange your discovered materials makes for one rewarding gameplay loop, especially because everything you make provides some sort of performance boost for your robot.
If you're unfamiliar with Mystery Dungeon games, you move your character on a grid and every time you move or perform an action, your enemies do the same. It's a blend of turn-based strategy and dungeon crawling with a roguelike structure and it makes for a supremely satisfying experience. void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium follows this blueprint closely although it has 1 missing element that's usually a substantial part of the formula: difficulty. Most Mystery Dungeon games are brutally challenging which is something that I appreciate yet void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium is rather easy to play. In fact, even failing a dungeon run allows you to retain your earned key items and such so there's very little penalty for defeat. That being said, I imagine that genre newbies would appreciate this aspect.
On the other hand, there are some scenarios that frankly annoyed me. Most of the time, I could have successful runs with no enemies posing any real threat but all of a sudden, I may accidentally step on a warp trap which sends me into the middle of an enemy den with little to no hope of emerging alive. That's just unfair. Thankfully, the wealth of upgrades that you can implement make dealing with these unwarranted difficulty spikes less stressful. As you receive base stat boosts, increase your inventory size, craft knacks which act like character classes, and unlock skills; watching your little robot become a resource-gathering killing machine is great fun.
Finally, allow me to discuss void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium's presentational qualities. First, I love the artwork with its watercolour aesthetic which juxtaposes with the neon HUD and robotic effects beautifully. On the downside, I wish the different dungeons offered more striking and distinct styles because they all look quite similar. Last but not least, the soundtrack is a perfect blend of gentle orchestral arrangements and chill vibes that really amplify the story's heartfelt nature and at the same time, its post-apocalyptic setting.
After having played many Mystery Dungeon style games, it's clear that void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium is in the top-tier of what the genre is capable of. Add in oodles of heart and a lovely presentation and you're left with one exceptional formula.
- + Rewarding gameplay loop that features innovative and heartfelt progression
- + Lovely art style and chill music
- + Lots of nifty upgrades to unlock
- - Challenge level is a bit too low
- - Environments could use more variety
- - Some randomness can feel unfair