Games that give players the option to create their own levels is a beautiful thing, to say the least. Basically, it lets the player’s creativity run wild, sometimes making complete works of art that are on par with the actual game’s levels, and other times making levels that are completely bonkers. Whether players are the next Vincent van Gogh or the next best level-creator troll, level creation in games is generally great for all players.
Here’s the thing, though: I’m terrible at creating levels, but I absolutely love playing player-created levels whenever I get a chance and loved doing so in games like the Little Big Planet series. It’s with that said that Stitch Media’s level-creation-focused, Pikmin-like, puzzle game Terrorarium, that’s now on Steam Early Access, caught my attention at GDC 2019. While my time with the game was brief, I can see it potentially being a hit with level creator fans — if it gets enough community support.
Terrorarium has players take control of The Gardener, a feisty granny with quite a green thumb, along with her gang of cute, disposable, Pikmin-like creatures called Moogu. The Moogu basically are like Pikmin in the sense that they’re meant to be used in all sorts of ways, and are also meant to die frequently. It’s with these creatures that players will use them to solve puzzles, either built-in puzzles or player-created puzzles, in different levels.
Before getting started with Terrorarium, Stitch Media’s community manager, Natalie Zina Walschots, asked if I wanted to play built-in levels or dive right into the game’s Maker Mode. Even though I’m not a level creator wizard by any means, I decided to go with the Maker Mode to see what it’d be like since I can imagine that’s what most players will want to check out. However, I was told that the built-in levels serve almost like a tutorial of sorts on understanding how everything works in Terrorarium. Regardless of which type of level you play, the objective is to take down a plant-monster known as the Fairy Cake Cactus using the Moogu, all the while watching out for obstacles along the way.
The core gameplay’s simple, but right at the start of the Terrorarium’s Maker Mode, though, I could immediately tell that it was one gigantic customization beast with all sorts of stuff to fiddle around with. There were over 100 assets at my disposal, everything from deadly creatures to destructible terrain, that could be scaled, moved, or tweaked in every way possible. Putting the assets into a level was as easy as 1,2,3 — literally, all I had to do was click, drag, and drop, so it wasn’t a problem at all.
With an already impressive level editor, it’s clear that players that go into the current Steam Early Access version of the game will already have tons of options when creating levels to the point that they can make a peaceful oasis or a close-to-impossible-to-finish death maze. What’s also neat to note is that all players have the option to share their built levels with friends or random folks, which could lead to Terrorarium having great replayability.
All in all, if you’re on the search for a level-creation game with a robust customization toolset, check out Terrorarium. My only major concern with the game is that its success and longevity is very community dependent. If the game doesn’t end up getting a large player base then it’ll end up getting stale rather quickly. Hopefully, it’ll get the support it needs to keep players coming back. Terrorarium is currently as a Steam Early Access title and will officially launch on PC later this year.
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