Void Terrarium 2 Review – A Girl and Her Robot

    Title: Void Terrarium 2
    Developer: NIS
    Release Date: February 28, 2023
    Reviewed On: PS4
    Publisher: NISA
    Genre: Roguelite

The original Void Terrarium provided an addictive dungeon-crawler experience with added daughter-rasing sim systems. The story is set years after the world has ended due to toxic air contaminating the ecosystem, and you navigate this as a robot named Robbie, who meets a strange girl named Toriko. While the quest themes can be rather dark, the narrative ultimately assured us that they would be safe, but that ended up not being the case.

Void Terrarium 2 picks up almost immediately after the conclusion of the original as Robbie does his best to fix factoryAI and get Toriko to a new home. Unfortunately, the opening moments reintroduce the gameplay systems from the original as it seems to hold off on introducing anything new until they find a new home for Toriko. I will say that this did cause me some confusion at first because too much of the experience resembled the original game, but that did change over the first few hours.

The narrative is much more of a highlight in this entry as Robbie unlocks pieces of the past that retell what happened to the humans. While taking care of Toriko is still a significant focus of the adventure, each chapter gets you closer to some answers, which becomes exceptionally dark. The writing and imagery of this game are unapologetically grim, regardless of its adorable presentation.

At times to progress the narrative, Robbie must venture into a VR world that houses reconstructed memories of the past. It breaks up the dungeon-crawling gameplay and adds some adventure elements while providing narrative drips. Sadly, I felt that a prime antagonist or significant goal outside of taking care of Toriko takes too long to develop in the opening hours. In addition, many of the dungeon bosses are the same robot, which does mean much of this game’s staying power relies on the player’s addiction to dungeon crawling and sim elements. Luckily, that area of gameplay is even more addicting than that of its predecessor.

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Void Terrarium 2 is, at its core, a majorly updated version of Void Terrarium. Many of the systems and gameplay loop features have returned. You head out to the dungeon, bring back resources, craft, and create. However, every piece of the experience has been streamlined in this release to keep you progressing, no matter your dungeon-crawling skills.

The game flow doesn’t always require you to actually complete dungeons; instead, much of your progress relies on the items you bring back from a run. With each trip to the dungeon, Robbie begins at level 1. As you fight, Robbie will level up, which grants a choice of random bonuses. Dungeons range in themes and enemies.

It’s tough to explain, but this time around, you’ll begin at a starter dungeon at layer 1, which then leads to other connected dungeons, but you’ll save the layer that you’re on. So, if dungeon 2 ends at layer 12, you’ll begin dungeon 3 at layer 13. I liked this process because it sped up quests that ask, “Find item on Layer 23, but it’s all the way in dungeon 4.” This does become streamlined further through campaign upgrades, but you’ll be playing the first dungeon a lot in the opening of the game.

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If you die or complete the mission, your items will be converted into materials used to craft items for Toriko. Crafting includes a 1st-time craft bonus which slowly raises Robbie’s base stats, so everything crafted makes the next trip to the dungeons easier, even if you start at level 1 all over again. This creates a nice game loop for those who find it tough to progress because, even if you die, you still acquire those materials, which grants options to get stronger.

Similar to other procedurally generated dungeon crawlers, Void Terrarium 2 is turn-based. Each action taken causes enemies to take an action. This can be used to create a battle strategy, but you’ll be at the mercy of your arsenal and items in deeper layers. I feel like this entry provided a more balanced item distribution, given that in each run, I had a few choices on ways to take on tough enemies, including items that raise stats for a limited time or grenades. Still, there were runs where I couldn’t find any repair kits but tons of defense items, so switching up a strategy is key.

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I will say that late-game dungeons are relentless as they test your understanding of items and force you to pay attention to crafting items for the bonuses. Still, enemy types do end up overstaying their welcome. Some have some interesting abilities, but there were just a few too many from the first game, and the annoying turrets are back that can shoot you from offscreen.

While exploring, you can also discover mystery rooms that provide powerful items. There are different kinds of mystery rooms, but my favorite is the weapon and shield fusion room which allows you to fuse equipable items in your inventory to strengthen them. In addition, weapons each have passive and active skills, giving them more variety in choosing which ones to equip. Further, there are added quests that you’ll complete through normal gameplay that provide some quality blueprints for crafting.

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The other side of gameplay is the daughter-raising elements, where you can decorate Toriko’s home with crafted items. There’s more reason to pay attention to this aspect of gameplay, as you can grow crops in terrariums aside from creating items that make Toriko happy. This requires you to adjust the temperature and humidity using items and watering the plants. It’s not a tough system to wrap your head around, but Toriko’s mood must also be considered.

Toriko really goes through it in this adventure. Be prepared to see this poor girl have her limbs fall off, shrivel up from dehydration, and plenty of other illnesses that make you wonder how she’s even still alive. Thankfully for her, you can treat them with items found in the dungeons. Further, hints are provided that tell you where to find the item to keep things moving. While out in the dungeons, the new portable nanny system is a lot more helpful this time around as Toriko isn’t completely helpless while you’re collecting items, but it is still best practice not to stay out for too long before upgrading some of her stats.

Void Terrarium 2 provides a very basic dungeon crawler layout that won’t impress any fans of the genre. These dungeons have no real thought or gimmicks outside their themes and traps. Unfortunately, this is where this entry has seen the least amount of updates, mainly resembling its predecessor in almost every way. Still, the music is quite good, so that’s a plus.

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Void Terrarium 2 is a significantly updated version of its predecessor by streamlining many of the systems to add a focus on a few narrative plot points. It provides an exceptionally addictive gameplay loop, with every moment spent playing rewarding the players with ways to stay out in the dungeons longer. The new terrarium features also feel less confusing to parse to keep players moving forward, but its almost identical presentation to the first entry is underwhelming.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.