Terraria on Stadia Review: Pixel perfect building in a procedural sandbox

Terraria Stadia Screenshot Cave
(Image: © 505 Games)

Android Central Verdict

Bottom line: At first glance, it's pretty easy to write off Terraria as just another Minecraft clone, but this time with 2D pixel art visuals. While true on the surface, there is actually a whole lot more to Terraria than initially meets the eye. For all intents and purposes, the Stadia version is a perfect port of the excellent sandbox survival game with zero compromises compared to its dedicated console counterparts. But it still may not be right for you if you're not into extremely open-ended crafting games.


  • +

    Gorgeous pixel art visuals

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    Compelling gameplay loop of crafting and building

  • +

    Excellent chiptune-style soundtrack

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    Endless content with thousands of items and procedural environments


  • -

    Tutorials at the start assume you're already familiar with the game

  • -

    Not a lot of structure

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    Controller-based cursor system is finicky

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Terraria is a fascinating game. Not only is it one of the best-selling indie games of all-time, but it also remains popular and topical to this day with the resurgence in popularity of survival sandbox games. Billed as a sort of 2D Minecraft, Terraria is all about gradually collecting resources, building shelter, and fighting hordes of enemies as you explore and craft your way to glory either alone or with friends and—thankfully—the Stadia version is a perfect port of this pixel-themed classic that plays great on mobile with a wireless Stadia controller — though keyboard and mouse is the best way to play.

Terraria Stadia review Gameplay, Modes, and Presentation

Arguably Terraria is past its prime at this point. Coming to a new platform in 2021 for Terraria probably feels a bit "been there, done that" for most gamers who have even a passing interest in sandbox survival games and owned either a game console or a moderately capable PC, tablet, or smartphone. That being said, it's popular for a reason, and the entirety of that popularity is still just as alluring and evident as ever.

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DeveloperRe-Logic, DR Studios
Publisher505 Games
GenreSandbox crafting and survival
Version ReviewedStadia
Stadia Pro?No
Play Time10 hours
PlayersSingle-player and online multiplayer
Release DateMarch 18, 2021
Launch Price$10

There is this tangibly whimsical nature that's hard to resist in Terraria. From the moment you first boot it up to the hundredth hour spent exploring and building, it's dripping with charm. The brilliant soundtrack feels at once both nostalgic and modern with its soaring chiptune score. These days, lots of pixel art games try hard to emulate a specific game's aesthetic, such as The Messenger borrowing heavily from Ninja Gaiden. Instead, it feels like an amalgamation of modern retro aesthetics mixed with pixelized Minecraft crammed into a modest landscape.

At the very start, you'll spend the first few minutes in simple menus with a relaxing tune humming away in the background. Before you ever start, you get to design your hero, choose your difficulty setting, the size of your world, and so on. It's enough options to make you feel like your experience will be unique each time, but it still only takes a few moments to get through and into the game world. Once your version of Terraria is procedurally generated, you'll embark on your adventure.

From the start, you're plopped into the world with very little to defend yourself with. Characters seem small on-screen at first, but that's likely by design. Everything has a real sense of scale immediately in Terraria since trees tower above you, and even a modest house feels enormous compared to your tiny pixel protagonist. It also does a great job contributing to the sense of being a tiny little meaningless mortal in a vast biome of creatures. It doesn't take long to stumble across large monsters, flying beasts, and swarms of enemies trying to overtake you.

Terraria Stadia Screenshot House

Source: 505 Games (Image credit: Source: 505 Games)

There is this tangibly whimsical nature that's hard to resist in Terraria.

One of the main things that sets Terraria apart from its contemporaries, still to this day, is how much more gamey it all feels. There are things to build and caves to explore here, of course, but you can spend tons of jumping around in caves like a platforming game or just fighting enemies for loot and supplies on the overworld.

Other smaller differences that set Terraria apart from other sandbox building survival games, such as Minecraft, are all of the various RPG elements, NPCs that can live with you and protect you. In general, there are tons of weapons and armor types to craft and hundreds of enemies to fight that keep Terraria interesting far after you've felt like you've built a nice house. It lacks direction still and suffers from a painfully meandering tutorial that struggles with delivering things clearly, but it's extremely rewarding once you really dig into it.

Terraria Stadia review Stadia performance and comparisons

Terraria Stadia Screenshot Monster

Source: 505 Games (Image credit: Source: 505 Games)

Terraria is a great example of a game that plays great across all devices on Stadia — even mobile with touchscreen gamepad controls — but it's also a perfect example of how limited the virtual gamepad options are on Stadia. On the one hand, it's wonderful to play any game on the entire platform with touchscreen controls, but on the other hand, the touch support is just a blanket virtual layout that's identical for every game. Usually, it's not good enough.

In the case of Terraria, where there is already a fantastic mobile port of the game with a remade UI specifically built for mobile, the Stadia version on a mobile device feels cramped and poorly realized. If you use a controller with a mount, Razer Kishi, or something like that, then it's okay as long as your vision is excellent at deciphering tiny text.

All in all, though, for me, Terraria is a game that just plays best with a mouse and keyboard due to the reliance on the on-screen cursor, so I spent most of my time using a browser to play it. I tried Chromecast with the Stadia controller, but the on-screen cursor that darts around the screen to target things was never accurate enough for my tastes. Building structures was extra frustrating, and I frequently put torches and blocks and other items in the wrong spot as a result.

Terraria is a game that just plays best with a mouse and keyboard for me.

According to a SpeedTest I've got an average download speed of 595Mbps, average upload speed of 18Mbps, and average ping of 14ms on Comcast XFINITY as of this writing. Google recommends at least 10Mbps download speed for 720p streaming, 20Mbps download speed for 1080p streaming, and at least 35Mbps download speed for 4K streaming.

Personally, I opted to pay an extra fee to have unlimited data on my home network. But for those without that option, data usage is a big factor for Stadia games.

Terraria Stadia Screenshot Mine

Source: 505 Games (Image credit: Source: 505 Games)

Data usage will, of course, vary based on your quality settings, but you really don't need to play Terraria at 4K. If you need to conserve data feel free to knock your quality down to 720p when playing this one, and I pretty much guarantee you won't miss any details at all.

Unfortunately, the Stadia version of Terraria doesn't include any Stadia exclusive features, which is actually a big missed opportunity. Features like State Share, Crowd Play, or anything like that would have been nice. Since Terraria is procedurally generated, State Share would have been a great feature so you could easily and quickly share your seed with others and let them play a saved state of your world either solo or hop in with you immediately. Instead, you can think of this as pretty much just a direct port of the PS4 version.

Terraria Stadia review Should you buy it?

Terraria Stadia Screenshot Fishing

Source: 505 Games (Image credit: Source: 505 Games)

You've probably already played Terraria before. If not, I'm guessing you have your reasons. It's been out for ages, it's already released on every other platform under the sun, and it hasn't really changed much recently other than getting more content. At the end of the day this is still just the same ol' Terraria — for better and for worse — and you probably already knew if you wanted this or not before ever clicking on this review.

That being said, it's still great.

4.5 out of 5

It's not the most accessible game out there if you're new to Terraria or the genre as a whole. The on-screen cursor is really annoying to use if you're on gamepad, and overall it's going to feel dated by today's standards because it is dated, but you still won't really find anything else out there like it. Boiling down the best parts of Minecraft into a 2D pixel-art imitation and then adding tons of weapons, armor, enemies, and RPG features to make it feel unique, as it turns out, is a great strategy for a multi-million-copies-sold indie smash hit success. And now it's on Stadia!

David Jagneaux