void tRrLM(); Void Terrarium Review – Keeping My Girl Safe
Title: void tRrLM(); Void Terrarium
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Release Date: July 14, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Genre: Dungeon Crawling RPG
Games that depict the future with a post-apocalyptic theme typically rely on a few similar elements to set up the world. However, I’ve never really experienced anything like the Nippon Ichi Software-developed void tRrLM(); Void Terrarium before. A world vacant of human life finds hope in a robot who comes across a strange girl. You may begin the game to discover more this world, but you’ll end up staying for the unique dungeon-crawling systems and features.
void tRrLM(); Void Terrarium really takes its time in the opening hour, which is probably the biggest downside of the entire game. You wake up as a robot and make your way through an underground world that has been overrun with fungi. Years prior, deadly spores drove humans into caves where they developed an AI designed to keep them safe. However, that same AI would end up being their demise after feuds broke out amongst the last remaining people.
Well, it just so happens that the AI is now one of your only friends, and the two of you have just come across a strange girl named Toriko, who definitely shouldn’t be alive. Set on making up for its past mistakes, the AI teams up with the robot in an effort to keep Toriko safe. However, that’s not an easy thing to do since spores have found their way into the caves, which can be fatal if she comes into contact with them.
The gameplay is very much focused on keeping Toriko alive, but the tutorial is not a good representation of what this game offers. There’s just so much exposition given to the robot from the AI, and considering the robot can’t talk, it’s pretty much the AI speaking the entire time. The animations of the robot also seem to take so long to play out during dialogue and they don’t really represent what the AI responds with.
However, after the opening moments of the game and tutorial, you are off to the races with some unique roguelike and dungeon crawling systems mixed with daughter raising-sim features. With such a slow start, I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy this game as much as I did. There really needs to be a quicker way to get through dialogue or speed up some of the animations because the writing isn’t that strong.
So let’s talk about the gameloop of Void Terrarium. Toriko needs your help to survive, using what is known as the “Pet Nanny” you able to see her health, hunger level, and whether or not she pooped in her cage. Yes, this is very much like a Tomigachi. Your only purpose is to keep her alive, but this requires you to enter dungeons and collect items. Some items unlock buildable structures, while others can be converted into recourses. Players then use these resources to craft objects for the terrarium, which also benefits the robot’s base stats.
It’s almost imperative that you keep Toriko healthy and happy. In the event that she dies, well, it’s game over. There are situations where even autosaves won’t help you, which are rare, but you’re forced to start over. It’s not the end of the world, but I would have liked it if they allowed me to skip the dialogue, which pads the opening moments of the game.
As a roguelike dungeon crawler, you can expect to find some recognizable systems, which come off as far too straightforward in the opening moments of the game. In the beginning, it just resembles any other dungeon crawler, but then you start to notice how this game differs.
Typically, death will cause you to lose everything that you’ve gathered in the dungeon and you’ll start over from scratch. In Void Terrarium, however, this is semi-true, but death isn’t as consequential. The items you’ve collected will always be converted into resources, and the blueprints are also kept.
This roguelike system means that each time you enter the dungeon, even if you die on the first floor, you’ll still progress the game. Milestones are hit after items are created or when something deadly is affecting Toriko. Often, I would be in a dungeon when an alert would go off that Toriko is close to dying. The game uses this as a way to introduce new items that progresses the overall narrative.
Dungeon exploring is easy to navigate as the game will tell you which special items can be found in any dungeon. Finding these items forces you to clear each floor instead of just rushing through the dungeon. Killing enemies gains levels, which provide you with two random stats or abilities. These have a rarity to them and yield some interesting new gameplay elements. Aside from additional special attacks, players can alter their normal attacks with moves that explode enemies or even attack more than one square.
Furthermore, items can be equipped that modify the robot with special passive abilities like extra damage to robots or the ability to heal when attacked. Given that all of these items will be converted into materials, you will always have a different loadout by the end of the dungeon, making each run a new experience. Items and equipment can also harm the robot depending on their contamination level.
Other things you’ll have to pay attention too is your battery level that drains over time and your health. Balancing healing and battery items becomes challenging the deeper you get in the dungeon because you’ll run out of space if you collect everything. Do you keep a mod that you won’t be using because you need the resources after the dungeon, or do you keep a battery? Choices like these come up every time your in a dungeon, which makes management crucial.
Luckily, almost everything about this robot can be upgraded for good, even if your level is reset each time you enter a dungeon. Over time your item slots will become greater, you’ll gain more health, and skills can become permanent. All of this is earned through crafting new materials using resources, which just makes for a satisfying and approachable experience.
The late-game offerings see an increase in difficult dungeons and enemies, but your progress can be visualized with just how complex and intricate your terrarium becomes. The relationship between the robot and Toriko is wholesome and mysterious since they don’t really share any dialogue between each other, which parallels the underlining dark themes of the AI and the extinction of humans.
void tRrLM(); Void Terrarium is a roguelike dungeon-crawler that doesn’t punish the player after a death. Instead, it creates a challenging gameloop in more unique ways revolving around keeping a young girl alive. Each item crafted progresses the narrative as your terrarium becomes the set-piece of all your hard work. Even with a slow and almost confusing beginning, this game really shapes into one of the most accessible roguelikes that I have ever played.
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