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Terraria and S.P.A.Z. are awesome

This week, two extremely fabulous gems dropped out of the sky upon me, the significance of such being as though the Gods had descended from on high to apologize for that whole "casual friendly" butchering of the gaming medium and make up for it by heralding a new golden era of PC gaming all in the same week.


The first was Terraria, a procedurally generated world that allows you to live vicariously in glorious 2D. It features a digging and building mechanic very similar to Minecraft. Unlike Minecraft, Terraria actually feels like a game, and a large part of that has to do with a subtle switch in balance and content:
  • In Minecraft, you spend days digging hoping to find a diamond block or a chest with a record in it. The greatest thing to do in Minecraft is to build elaborate 3D fortresses out of blocks, and the occasional creeper is just a speed bump.
  • In Terraria, you can build a little city inhabited by various merchant NPCs that come if you fulfill certain conditions, meanwhile digging for ore and encountering cool artifacts that grant you special powers, heart containers for more health, mana, and so on while encountering steadily nastier monsters.
In terms of sheer entertainment value, provided you can get over the fact it looks like a budget SNES title, Terraria is probably the best $10 you'll ever spend as it offers hundreds of hours of play, if not thousands.

Space Pirates and Zombies is almost the game I've been waiting for my entire life. I say "almost" because my dream game would be more in the vein of a procedurally-generated Starflight meets Sentinel Worlds, but I guess if that's what I want I'll have to make it myself sometime. Like Terraria, the unfortunately acronymed S.P.A.Z. features a procedurally generated world (universe) in which you can live vicariously in 2D, but that's about where the similarities end. It's actually an open-ended top-down action space combat adventure game, sort of in the vein of Escape Velocity Nova but significantly different in several key facets:
  • You control several ships which you can switch between on the fly while the rest are controlled by autopilot.
  • The combat is a lot tighter feeling, an extremely fluid action game with just enough depth to make you think.
  • There's less emphasis on trade. Instead of having to muddle through hundreds of components and hulls, all you need to buy is technology blueprints and your mothership fabricates ships on the fly.
  • Destruction of your ships is common and they're replaced easily as long as you've enough REZ on hand.
None of this can really tell you how great the game is. I advise giving the demo a spin. It's a really brilliant game for one developed by two chaps out of British Columbia.

Perhaps the best thing about both Terraria and S.P.A.Z. is that they're both fully playable works in progress. So, in addition to be fairly awesome in the present, there's a lingering promise they will be even awesome in the future.
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