Join us all month as our staff looks back at the most influential games of the past decade. This is not a list of our favourite games but rather a look back at the games that left the biggest impact in the last ten years on an artistic and cultural level. After careful consideration, we narrowed it down to ten games that have most defined, influenced and shaped the industry as we know it.
With a decade of realistic graphics and huge worlds to explore, it’s easy to forget the miniature renaissance of 8-bit and 16-bit games. Terraria, as perhaps the most famous 16-bit game of the decade, is easily the pick of the bunch.
It’s easy to assume Terraria was inspired by Minecraft, and for the first five hours of gameplay, it does play like a 2D Minecraft. But other than the digging and crafting, many of the similarities end there; surprisingly, Terraria offers so much more gameplay than vanilla Minecraft ever will. In effect, the possibilities are only bound to the imagination of the player, something Minecraft became after the endless mods fans created.
Even after hundreds of hours of gameplay, each Terraria playthrough has never felt the same. From new enemies to new resources, to new biomes and new possibilities, there has never been a moment of monotony. It is that Terraria is an escape that the real world could never offer, a creative recluse that offers all the excitement danger brings with all the solutions only the wacky could muster.
This isn’t to say Terraria is just another sandbox game. There are incentives to find the best resources and craft the finest weaponry. Depending on the difficulty selected, the player may encounter several different bosses such as Duke Fishron and Skeletron Prime. There are also random events such as Blood Moon and Pumpkin Moon which trigger certain changes to enemies and the environment to create extra challenges for the player. This means Terraria isn’t a peaceful sandbox to create the player’s dreams but one in which the player builds to protect against their nightmares.
But while it’s nice to have something to pursue, exploration and crafting are perfect without it. There are moments when the player will craft something so complex and then realise that new complex items can be used to crafted something even more complex. It becomes an endless cycle of crafting and improving which seems like a bottomless bag filled with more goodies. The developers continue to add more features that mean the game never becomes stale, ensuring the journey and the destination are as unique as the players themselves!
The popularity of Terraria has grown so much over the decade that it would be difficult to find a platform it isn’t featured on. What started as an indie game on Microsoft Windows in 2011 now has a mobile version for iOS and Android since August 2019. It’s the beauty in its simplicity that helps it convert to different platforms with ease. Each version is different from the Nintendo 3DS version being the most limited in gameplay, but they all offer the same core game with no version offering a complete reduction in playability.
There will be many other games tipped to be the game of the decade. From the beautiful Breath of the Wild with its incredible map that opened up the Zelda franchise to new possibilities, to The Last of Us with its heartfelt narrative. It would be easier to forget the games that offer simplicity to their design but still produce the same enjoyment. This is why Terraria is one of the games of the decade. It found a niche that not even Minecraft could fill.