I often tell myself that I'm going to just sit down and marathon a game, playing it constantly until my deadline is reached with only moderate breaks for food and the bathroom and whatnot. It's all part of a fantasy I have that if I just powered through my list with maximal efficiency, I'd finish the blog in a mere (let's calculate - at 7 hours a day, that's roughly 2 games a week, which translates into about 38 weeks . . .) 9 and a half months.
It's hopeless, I know, but then a game like Terraria comes along and makes me think it's possible. I started the game up at around 1:00am last night and then just played more or less continuously until 9:30 am (for those following along, that puts me at 21 hours total) and when the time came, I didn't want to stop. The only reason I did was because I had to do laundry today, and I'm not quite so detached from reality that I'll skip washing my work clothes just to squeeze in some more game time (now, if I didn't have a job . . .)
I don't think there's any one big secret to Terraria's appeal. There's a lot to discover and a seemingly endless number of tools to discover things with. In the beginning, you're mobbed by zombies every night and the game seems excessively rough, but once you've got some upgraded armor and weapons and a few npcs show up to scare the mobs off your main base, the difficulty levels off into something a bit more manageable. It's easy to set your own goals (my biggest one so far was to travel to the edges of the map) and there is a real sense of accomplishment to achieving them. The game's old-school presentation is immediately appealing, but despite its simple-seeming graphics, Terraria's environments hold surprising diversity.
There's no one element that I would call out as uniquely inspired or uncontestedly excellent, but all of the game's individual elements work together so well that the game as a whole is extraordinarily fun.
This experience has left me really curious to try Starbound when it comes out with its 1.0 patch tomorrow. I'd never gotten quite so far in Terraria before (having defeated 3 more bosses and 2 special events since the last time I posted), having previously been stuck at the gold-equipment, pre-Eye of Cthulu tier, and so my assessment of the game was woefully incomplete. I tended to think of it as overly difficult and unforgiving in its fiddliness, but that was because I was playing a character without a double-jump or laser pistol or a magic mirror that teleports me back to the spawn. And from that impression, I came to the conclusion that Starbound was like Terraria with spaceships (i.e. "superior"). Now that I've gotten past the growing pains and seen a little of the late game, I wonder if that conclusion will hold up.
Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out. In the meantime, I can use the rest of my day off to try and beat the last of normal mode's bosses, hopefully kicking my game into hard mode and unlocking a whole mess of new equipment to play with. Hopefully, all of that doesn't prove too hard. I would hate to advance so far in the game only to have it kick my ass just when I thought I was getting good.