An enjoyable action brawler game that, unfortunately, lacks any complexity or replay value.
Genres: Brawler, Adventure
Publisher: Eastasiasoft Limited
Release date: 20 January, 2021
Even though the only thing I was expecting from Teratopia was mindless fun for a few hours, which this action brawler provided, I was still a bit disappointed. Why is that? The game has decent foundations for various mechanics, which piqued my interest at first. Unfortunately, it is afraid to fully commit to them. And while that does not necessarily mean that it is an inferior approach, the result is just a bit repetitive mediocre game. And that is quite a shame.
Teratopia does not really spend much time with story-telling or building up the lore. Its world of eponymous name consists of three grotesque-looking monstrous races: blue rock-like creatures, green grass-like beasts, and yellowish poisonous slimes. Their coexisting harmony ends when strange red invaders, led by an ancient family, attack them. So, you have to kick them out from your lovely homeland!
While the game tries to keep its themes light-hearted, its humour was not always that amusing for me. Sure, a boss battle where you fight Grandfarter, who uses farts to move forward and attack you, is quite memorable. But most of the jokes could not even make me smile. I still adored Teratopia’s joyful theme, though, as it reminded me of a few animated shows I used to watch as a kid.
The gameplay’s premise is pretty simple, as you have to find and defeat several bosses to continue on your eight hours long journey. Those boss battles are the most interesting part of the combat, as every one of them is unique and require a bit different strategy at times. There are tons of various enemies in your way, from melee, ranged, heavy ones to even casters and flying monsters. You only have three types of attacks at your disposal: light, heavy, and deflective one. Unfortunately, there are not any combos or weapons which would make fights more interesting. And that is truly a shame because it feels pretty repetitive after a while. Luckily, there are two aspects, which change the gameplay’s flow, but still have their own shortcomings.
Firstly, there are three playable characters: a melee-focused brawler Tucho, long-ranged shooter Benito, and poison-spitting slime Horacio. Now, trying out all of them was pretty fun, but I found out soon enough that Benito is ultimately the best choice, as he obliterates most of the enemies before they can even reach him. On the other hand, Horacio is utterly useless, as he cannot deflect attacks or double jump properly. Due to that, I could not even finish an area designed for him, so I had to kill myself and choose another character. I am not sure whether this is a glitch or just a terrible design decision.
Each character also has special abilities. For example, Benito can become invincible or heal its minions. Ah, yes, the minions! Those are the second larger twist that changes the gameplay a lot. There are five minion types, and four of them are combat-oriented, as they consist of brawlers, shooters, heavies, and casters, who heal or boost your units. You can summon them via tokens that drop from enemies. I must say that it is quite enjoyable to build your army in a blink of an eye because it shifts the balance of power drastically, and at later parts, you can even overwhelm your foes in numbers! However, it makes the game a bit easier, as enemies do not really know how to deal with your spam of units at times.
The fifth unit type is a scavenger, who collets drops from enemies, such as the abovementioned tokens or eyes, which are used for opening chests and upgrading your minions limit. While that is a good addition, you can only unlock them after you beat the level, so you have to backtrack a lot and kill all the enemies again, which is pretty tiresome. You also gain XP from enemies, and for each level, you get a new ability or a percentage boost to your attack or health. Unfortunately, you cannot choose what you would prefer.
Audiovisuals & Performance
I could not help to not adore Teratopia’s visuals. Its several colourful levels, each distinctive in style, from greyish mountains filled with monstrous’ bones or green woods with various vivid flowers, looks beautiful. All the monsters and bosses differ from each other too, making encounters unique in that regard. Yet, some of the textures are a bit blurry, which ruins that brilliant atmosphere at times.
This title definitely excels with its sounds, especially with the soundtrack. There are various orchestrated compositions, which perfectly underlines the game’s grotesque and humorous atmosphere, especially during the boss fights. Characters also speak in some kind of made-up gibberish, which is pretty sweet.
What is not that great is optimization. The game was tested with an i5 8300H, GTX 1060 6GB, and 16GB RAM, running at the highest settings, at 50-60 frames per second, at 1920×1080 resolution. The framerate drops went even way lower in two areas, below 15 frames to be precise, which made them barely playable. I also encountered few bugs, like enemies getting stuck in the ground or me not being able to summon minions.
While I was disappointed with the lack of complexity, I still enjoyed Teratopia for what it is, as those simple games offer enough enjoyment when you are in the mood for them. Definitely worth checking out if you will feel bored and manage to get it at a lower price.