strategy games

[Review] Terraria: Surviving this COVID-19 Pandemic Underground (PC)

Hello! I pretty much mothballed this blog since the world was forced to stay home two months ago. Not much happening – I’m working from home, baking banana bread, watching movies and gaming. What do you play when in a pandemic? Surprisingly, my answer has been Terraria.

Terraria is an open world survival game where you create and carve your world while being pestered and attacked by blobs, eyeballs, bats, insects and zombies. You start above ground with simple tools and low health but are able to collect gems, ore, stone and wood as you dig and explore your surroundings. The crafting of better tools and objects comes by using items such as a work bench, anvil, and smelter, which you can either purchase or find as you explore caves and abandoned underground shelters deep in the earth. Characters like a merchant, mechanic, mage and nurse all come to stay around you to help you in your quests if you need them. Fighting bosses, completing goals or killing a large number of, say zombies, provides you rewards, such as better armor or a flag which you can display in your abode. And the more you dig and find things, the more your inventory fills up. Luckily, trunks are scattered all over the underworld and you can store items in them.

My Steam purchase history says I bought Terraria January 2, 2012; over 8 years ago! The first time I tried playing it was with the hubs in co-op and it was a cumbersome experience. My account said I had played over 40 minutes and I just remember being lost and anxious. Throw forward to March of this year, and the hubs, being part of the Quick Save Club, a podcast that focuses on PC gaming, encouraged me to try their Game of the Month, Terraria. Instantly, memories came flooding back. “No thanks,” I said., “I don’t remember liking it.” But, I relented and found myself installing the game and playing it.

Well, folks, it turns out, my cure for pandemic anxiety is to start digging underground, and I have not stopped. The Terraria underground universe is dark, vast and interesting, and is pretty much a hodge-podge of worlds found above ground: sandy desert, Amazonian greenery, Icy cold Arctic, and some scary lava-pit place that I try to avoid.There might be other places I haven’t even found yet!

The tunnels I’ve dug so far…

The other fun part I’ve discovered is the collecting of items and somehow fashioning a home as you go to house them all. The internet is full of examples of how people have unleashed their creativity in Terraria, and created some truly amazing homes. And apparently, Terraria is getting an update in Terraria: Journey’s End this very day that provides even more customization and new gameplay! Hoo boy! That said, I didn’t go too cray cray with my home…(click pics below for a closer look)

There is so much to Terraria, and I’ve been told I have only scratched the surface of the game by simply digging tunnels and not completing boss challenges. I have completed over 80 hours of gameplay…just by digging tunnels! There is something weirdly satisfying about digging in, creating paths, and finding secret caverns or even an old abandoned mining outpost. So relaxing and fun! I never thought I’d write that about an open-world sandbox game but here we are!

I don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last, but I am glad to have Terraria to keep me sane.

Stay healthy!


[Review] Overcooked (PC)

As of this posting, I have been on a well-deserved week-long stay-cation. From day zero, the hubs and I have been obsessed with playing Overcooked on the recommendation of Chris, Myles and Kathryn from @FlockofNerds. We’ve been “cooking up a storm” ever since!

Overcooked is a cooking strategy game where you play as a short order cook trying to fill orders as quickly as possible. You are given a food order with a set of required ingredients. For example, pizza requires dough, tomato, cheese and maybe sausage or mushrooms depending on the order. Each ingredient needs to be chopped. All the while you are washing dirty dishes and watching the oven to ensure your prepared food doesn’t burn. If your kitchen has a mouse problem, you have to contend with your produce going missing.

As you level up in Overcooked, the venue and layouts of the kitchen can change and impact how your character moves through the arena. In one level, your kitchen is divvied up among the back of three flatbed trucks, one of which moves around, and happens to be the only one with the essential ingredients to make your food. The complexity of the food you are making also changes (beef burritos and rice anyone?). You have to watch what is going on the entire time to ensure orders are prepared right and on time. Points are given when orders go through correctly, and lost if you screw them up. At the end of the timed challenges, you are given up to three stars depending on your score. The hubs and I played Overcooked together in co-op and it really got competitive for us: It was “three stars or bust”! The end boss is a real trip – I don’t want to ruin it for you, but let’s just say that it’s one-a spicy meat-a ball!

Overcooked is a very polished game, with cute characters, a neat little navigation map and catchy music. The developers, Ghost Town Games, paid serious attention to the details. Likewise, those that play Overcooked must pay attention. This game reminds us of some practical life lessons in game play, namely, keeping the communication pipeline open with your partner. As in life, it is important to let the other know what you are doing and where you are going. Screwing up is common in Overcooked, so be prepared for failure. And if you have any neuroses about that, you need to remember to take it easy on yourself and your partner, because the game is worth playing together to the end.

We played Overcooked on PC via Steam, but it’s also available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Go on, buy it! And make sure you play with a partner!

Overcooked (PC)
Ghost Town Games
August 2016