A post-apocalyptic world, a girl called Toriko to be saved, many monsters to face: these are just some of the elements that make up Void Terrarium - void tRrLM ();, the new dungeon crawler developed by Nippon Ichi Software and distributed by NIS America released on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. We have played for you the hybrid console version of the Big N, both in fixed and portable mode, to discover an intoxicated world in the shoes of the mouse-robot Robbie. What are hidden in the dungeons we will venture into? And most importantly, why is that little girl so important to save?
Void Terrarium: a dungeon crawler with Tamagotchi
Starting from the type of game, Void Terrarium it's a rogue-like dungeon crawler rather classic: in the course of our adventure we will have to explore different dungeons, level and acquire skills or upgrade items and defeat the enemies that will hinder us along our path. Nonetheless, the difficulty of the game - it will keep you company for 15-20 hours about - is Medium-High (especially on the upper floors of each dungeon). This will guarantee even the most experienced players a fairly demanding level of challenge.
Un approval it must be done to some mechanical that enliven the trend of Void Terrarium, that is weather conditions and Pet Nanny, A kind of Tamagotchi which will allow us to keep an eye on Toriko's health conditions even when we are in the exploration phase. The climatic variations, controllable by the Pet Nanny, will suggest a more or less marked presence of contamination in the air; when exploring dungeons, this will result in bonuses or penalties on your inventory. For example, in favorable conditions the healing items will be more effective, while, in adverse weather, they will have much more limited effects, hindering your exploration.
Il Pet Nannyinstead, it is a mechanic that can arouse love and hate in the player according to his expectations. It is a small monitor, reminiscent of the mythical ones Tamagotchi, located in the lower left, both in the hub and in the levels to be explored. Its function is track Toriko's physical and hygienic conditions, which never leaves its terrarium. Then, as we advance from floor to floor, we will be warned by the Pet Nanny if Toriko is hungry or has the terrarium full of droppings, with an invitation to go back for take care of her.
Although the more hardcore gamers may consider the Pet Nanny a functional mechanic toincreasing the difficulty, we are faced with a feature that abruptly interrupts the flow of the game. Let's take an example borrowed from the famous rogue-like The Binding of Isaac: imagine running a perfect run, with all the right items and power-ups, unprecedented attack power, the best of life ... Only to be forced to give it up forever for return to the game hub.
Ignoring the pet nanny's calls is not a viable option: if we neglect Toriko's health, the latter will will get sick forcing us to temporarily pause our current focus to look for components to synthesize drugs to cure it. Moreover, having to repeat the same search and creation process of the same objects several times in an almost identical way, results boring since the second time we venture out to try and cure Toriko.
An artistic direction in the balance
In the first moments of the game, we wake up in a wasteland and haunted by toxic mushrooms which emit dangerous spores into the air. Right here we will find a dying human girl, whom we will later discover to call you Toriko, and an artificial intelligence called factoryAI, which would appear to be guilty of creating the hostile reality in which we find ourselves. We, as Robbie, will feel the urge to save poor Toriko, who has no one else to rely on, building her a terrarium in which she can live, feeding her and treating her in case of illness. Also because, it doesn't seem that there are any other human beings left in circulation ...
Although the first fabulous trailer has hinted at a strong narrative component of the game, unfortunately Void Terrarium does not shine for plot and storytelling. While the premises, setting and characters are definitely interesting, the game places more emphasis on dungeon exploration than the storyline. We learn about the Void Terrarium background through one dialogical explanation of factoryAI, which anticipates the way the story is used during the game: the computer speaks, we listen without interacting. Not even the relationship with Toriko, who had all the premises to be a good starting point to show the empathy between humans and robots, is explored properly. We can pet her, feed her and clean the terrarium, but we are not given the opportunity to actually interact with her, neither vocally (as both Toriko and Robbie don't speak) nor gestures.
The history of Void Terrarium is also penalized by theabsence of localization of idubbing, which would certainly have given factoryAI a little more character. Even the missions do not shine for originality and can be summarized in a search for resources and objects aimed at improving Toriko's psychophysical conditions, forcing the player to explore the same dungeon over and over again in search of the required materials.
In analogy to what was said for the narration of Void Terrarium, the Artistic direction of the game is good, but not great. In the environments, poisonous and unhealthy, we vaguely find the atmosphere of the Fungal Caves of Hollow Knight; the character designs of the characters, on the other hand, are very reminiscent of the rounded and chibi style of the manga Made in Abyss by Akihito Tsukushi. Even the soundtracks of the game, with dubstep and ambient tones, are well taken care of. The downside is discovered a few hours after the start of Void Terrarium: there isn't much variety, and the dungeons, which are too reminiscent of the level design of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX, are very few when compared to the number of missions.
Despite the flaws, it should be noted that there are in Void Terrarium many collateral activities to be carried out, from customization of the terrarium al crafting of objects, from the possibility of creating your own build statistics (not available immediately) to the choice of skills to be excluded in the exploration phase. As mentioned earlier, the game has a good longevity compared to its price, which certainly winks at lovers of the genre. In addition, the game is fully supported by Nintendo Switch and no bugs or lag were found.
In summary, Void Terrarium is a dungeon crawler poised between strengths and weaknesses, between tradition and an attempt to bring some innovation to the genre, between good plot premises and inadequate storytelling. Recommended mainly for all hardcore fans of dungeon crawlers and rogue-like, certainly negligible for all those who are looking for an affordable title to start getting familiar with this videogame genre.