This Terrarian Life

Death is a concept any living being is familiar with. One day your body will cease to function and that is the end of your mortal coil. Then whatever afterlife you believe in kicks in. In gaming, however, no one ever really dies. Permanent death is an alien concept to developers and players alike. Think back to the last time you played a game that involved permanent death–and running out of lives doesn’t count. I personally struggle to come up with more than a handful of examples. Most games use the fear of character death as the primary driving motivation for players. The fear of having to start over, or losing items or money makes players try. However death isn’t permanent and all you have to do is wait a bit and you can be right back in the action again. And usually you can recover what it is that you have lost in the process, totally nullifying the consequences. Players have grown up expecting a respawn or multiple lives in every game, a redo for every mistake. No matter how many times a monster kills you, if it doesn’t instil fear then somewhere the monster has failed. So I’ve decided to partake in an experiment where I play through Terraria with a single life–no respawns, redos, nothing like that. One life, that’s it. I want to put the fear of death back into gaming.

Teraria allows a player to respawn any number of times for a slight monetary loss. Death is more of an annoyance than the great equalizer that we all know it to be in real life. In Terraria, we fight monsters to keep ourselves from dying, and we build fortresses to give us safe places to hide from them. With death being such a minor event I sometimes found myself not caring if I lived or died, though. Ultimately we fight for survival which is the primary goal of Terraria. Survive long enough to get better equipment and then use that equipment to survive even better.

The self imposed rule of only one life will require that I study my environment, that I respect the creatures and the natural landscape. A more ‘scientific’ approach favoring observation and knowledge. The permadeath approach makes my survival paramount and makes me less inclined to embark on a careless genocidal spree. Under these circumstances, I expect that flight over fight will sometimes be the correct choice. Thus, hopefully this will be the start of a small series of articles to better understand the behavior of the monsters and the ecology of Terraria.

Terraria is home to a large variety of of wild life, most of which is psuedo natural or out right super natural. Players typically take it upon themselves to blindly eradicate the native lifeforms of any game. Granted they are hostile, but an ecosystem where the fauna are all predators is such a rare and unstable balance that I couldn’t help but be intrigued. These lifeforms must be studied. Once we understand them then we can make an informed decision on what to do with them. So I have taken it upon myself to study these creatures in an attempt to ensure survival in my permadeath playthrough.

Green Slime:

The first monster I encountered was a Green Slime. I located it in the sunlight amongst some tress and grass. I watched from a distance to see what it would do. The Slime was about 3 feet in height and width in a spherical shape. The inside seems to flow effortlessly inside a skin of hardened gel. The skin would quiver in the wind. One of the most peculiar thing about the slime is its mode of transportation. By hurling the fluids inside of its body it is able to fling itself large distances of sometimes 20 ft or more. In the vicinity of the Slime the air reeks with the sting of chemicals. I suspect the contents of this monster to be highly caustic.

The slime initially ignored me and proceeded down into a pool of water. There it remained for several minutes. Not once did I see a bubble break the surface. It appears that Slimes do not have a respiratory system, at least not as I understand it.

As I approached to get a better look, the Slime must have caught wind of me and started heading my direction. As it leaped at me I smacked it with my pick axe which repelled it but didn’t dissuade the Slime. 4-5 blows later the Slime lay motionless oozing fluid from the wounds I gave it. I gathered a sample of the fluid and after some initial study found it to be highly flammable. My sample has burned for hours and currently shows no sign of dying out. I may be able to use this fluid to make torches.

With this monster cataloged, I need to focus my efforts on to finding or building shelter before nightfall. The monsters of Terraria are persistent to a degree that I have not witnessed outside of starving animals. And I do not want to be unprotected when night falls.


  1. Chris

    This is very cool, reminded me a ton of pikmin from nintendo.

  2. Army of None

    Just finished getting myself a full Molten armor set, after having downed every boss/cleared every terrain in the game. Phenomenal game. Make sure you make an alchemy station for potions early on! Goodluck.

  3. I’m looking forward to playing it; just got it today. Will kill many things before my day is done!

  4. Dave

    If you’re interested in the concept of permadeath, take a look at the rogue-like subgenre: most of them feature permadeath as a core factor of gameplay.

  5. Pingback: This Terrarian Life Part 2 | Nightmare Mode