void tRrLM();++ //Void Terrarium++ Review (PS5)
You are too cute Toriko!
Publisher: NIS America Inc
I really like dungeon crawlers and the first one I played was Pokemon Mystery Dungeon (PMD) Blue Rescue Team. I may not have ended up finishing it as it got too hard for little ‘ole me as a kid, but I loved the story and it was addictive. Although I didn’t end up playing the other PMD games mainly because I didn’t know about them until a couple years ago. When Void Terrarium first came out, I was initially scared off by the fact that your level resets every time you enter a dungeon, but I decided to check it out when I heard that a sequel was coming. Well, it immediately gave me PMD vibes and I dived right in. So what’s it about and how is the game?
Void Terrarium starts you as a mouse just walking around when you find a lone decommissioned robot. The mouse decides to mess with the robot by messing with its wires and ends up getting electrocuted and dying. Silver lining though, whatever the mouse did caused the robot to reboot. You take control of this robot, later nicknamed Robbie, for the rest of the game and after getting the tutorial on dungeon crawling, find yourself at another safe area. You soon learn this is the Scrapyard and you not only find a huge broken flask here, but an unconscious human girl covered in what looks like a fungi cocoon. And then you find a huge computer lodged in the floor hosting an AI named factoryAI. Soon enough, factoryAI detects that the human girl is barely holding on and sends you off to gather some resources to bring her back to health.
Giving some background, Void Terrarium takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting where the humans all went underground due to a fungus that suddenly popped up. This fungi’s spores were deadly toxic, causing those infected with them to sprout fungi and have a horrible slow death as it drains everything from them. So humans went underground, where they’ll be safer and only have to be worried about building protections against the spores that seep down. However, they all died and factoryAI may have been the reason why…
Once you bring the human girl back to health, factoryAI names her Toriko. Sadly, she has to stay in her giant flask, or terrarium, or else she risks being contaminated; which we don’t want considering she’s the last of her kind. So for the whole game you and factoryAI, but mostly you, take care of Toriko. Making sure she’s happy and healthy despite the circumstances.
Void Terrarium’s gameplay is split between dungeon crawling and the Scrapyard, aka the hub. You’ll be spending a lot of time dungeon crawling, which is pretty simple and quick to get the hang of. Every time you enter a dungeon you start at Level 1. Just like in PMD, your movement is based on a grid and all enemies on the layer won’t take their move until you do. As you explore the layer, trying to find the layer exit, you’ll be uncovering the map and coming across items that will help you out. Interestingly enough, each item will have a contamination level and this can affect how effective an item is. There are even hidden traps you can step on with various effects (and I swear the trap that contaminates a random item always targets the clean food you just got).
You will run into the enemies a lot and luckily you get to take the first hit or tactically position yourself if there’s more than one around you. The enemy variety is good here, enough to not run into the same enemy type, but not too much that you won’t learn how each one with act. Each enemy you defeat will give you experience and when you level up, not only will your stats go up but you’ll be able to pick up a skill that is randomly selected out of a big pool of them. Some are skills you can use for combat, but a lot are passive skills like increasing your critical hit chance, lowering your energy consumption, or, my favorite, giving you the ability to absorb health with your attacks.
Though, you can’t just keep an eye on your health as you have Energy. It slowly depletes as you explore and actions like using skills will deplete it even more. Batteries will be your main source of Energy, but you will most likely get into unlucky situations where you need to use other items that’ll give you a little bit of Energy. If Energy runs out, it’ll take your health off instead until you die or get more Energy.
Toriko still needs to be taken care of when you’re away in dungeons, and since factoryAI can’t move it’s still up to you. This is the twist that Void Terrarium brings along. This aspect slowly gets introduced to you, but it’s basically like having a Tamagotchi. On the bottom left of your screen you’ll always be able to see Toriko’s condition like how hungry she is, her contamination levels, and how dirty her terrarium is. As you explore in dungeons, she’ll get hungry and you will need to go back to feed her and hopefully you have some uncontaminated food in your food vault or your inventory. You can feed her contaminated food, but this raises her contamination levels and gives her more of a chance of getting sick. You will be able to clean her terrarium while exploring ,as well as play with her later on once that unlocks, but it’ll take Energy.
Toriko always has a chance to get sick, she’s fragile after all, but those chances will either be lower or higher based on how well you’re taking care of her. Getting to see the various illnesses is fun, and I kind of feel bad for wanting to see all of them, but you will need to go into the illness dungeon to cure her before continuing.
Sometimes this aspect is annoying. You’ll get instances where Toriko will get in the way of your progress either by needing to get more food for her, curing her illness, or needing to expend Energy you can’t afford to lose. In a sense though, this brings in another layer to the game’s difficulty as you have to balance how much you explore each layer with your stats, Energy, and Toriko. Challenging you to strike a balance between leveling up enough to not be steamrolled by later layer enemies, having enough Energy to make it through, and progressing fast enough that Toriko won’t need you.
When you eventually die or end up coming back on your own accord, you won’t be taking anything back other than the food you gathered. Everything else is recycled into four different resources. There are a few things to do before heading back out into dungeons.
In the Scrapyard, you’ll be able to craft the blueprints you find while in the dungeons as long as you have the needed resources and, if it calls for it, material. This ranges from items just for decor reasons and items that are more akin to upgrades. While crafting decor items seem to not be worth it, it actually is as most blueprints will give you a first craft bonus. First craft bonuses range from increasing your base stats permanently, give you an option to remove skills from the skill pool, or increase some aspects of Toriko’s side of things like decreasing how fast she gets hungry. So while you’ll always start at Level 1, you still get stronger and will be able to stay out more as you progress more into the game.
You can also craft upgrades to give you more room in your inventory or food vault and chips you can install on Robbie. Custom Parts come in four varieties that can give you a skill to start out with, lower the chance of a skill rarity to not pop up when leveling up, a chance to choosing an extra skill, or give you an extra skill draw so you can have more than two choices to pick from. While Knacks alter the probability of certain skills to pop up based on the theme of the Knack. Custom Parts and Knacks help you become powerful while in dungeons as it helps turn the tide to your favor so don’t forget to check those out. It is pretty easy to forget, I often forgot myself, especially when you bond with Toriko so much she becomes your priority.
You also should check up on Toriko before leaving. This is the time you should check up on your food supplies as each food item has an expiration countdown and feed Toriko. Luckily she isn’t that picky as she will still eat food she doesn’t like. Also clean up her terrarium and give some pats to Toriko. You can also use the decor items you crafted to decorate her terrarium! You won’t have much starting out, but that’ll soon change as you get further into the game. I really loved how cute Toriko was in this game as I watched her walk around; sometimes fall on her face when she trips (which I totally didn’t laugh every time it happened); see her doze off while standing up, take the floor to sit and sleep on despite having a chair and bed; and the interactions she has with certain items. You can imagine how happy and surprised I was when I crafted her a cute plushie and saw her actually pick it up and carry it around with her.
Despite the times I got annoyed with her, I loved taking care of Toriko. Yes, I had runs that I had to abandon for Toriko, even had one where I was right at the layer I needed to be at, but she brought me a lot of joy. Especially at the end of the game’s true ending.
This doesn’t seem to be mentioned a lot, but Void Terrarium is hard. More specifically hard in the beginning half of the game as you won’t have a lot of stuff built or a lot of resources. A huge roadblock is the halfway point where you face against the game’s first boss where I personally spent 9 hours trying to get past it. This really brings a spotlight to how much the RNG plays into the game and how it definitely brings along some unfair deaths. However, you really do get a step closer with each death. It may not seem like it as it’s small steps, but still.
I guess to sum it all up, I wanted to say to not let Void Terrarium’s difficulty in the beginning get you down so much you want to quit the game. You will get past it. Each new blueprint you craft will help you out and the RNG will slide in your favor. You will feel the huge satisfaction of finally defeating the boss and the rest of the game will level out difficulty wise. Void Terrarium really employs some tough love on us players.
Also a little secret between you and me, the game autosaves with each layer, but it won’t autosave when you die until you agree to be put back at the Scrapyard. If you find a death particularly unfair, you can just close the game and reopen it so you’re back at the beginning of the layer.
Once you complete the game, there isn’t that much to do other than get the achievements, find and craft more blueprints, and get the other ending as there are two. Though, you do unlock an endless dungeon, the Endless Ruins, that unlock once you reach the endgame. This lets you challenge yourself to see how far you can go with your current build, or make up different builds to see how they do, without having to worry about Toriko and being able to get blueprints both unique to the Endless Ruins and from other dungeons that you didn’t pick up yet.
To talk about some negatives, I do wish that the dungeons were more differentiated from one another. They all basically look the same, but with a different color palette and slightly different floor decor. Considering that each dungeon has it’s own purpose when the humans were alive, it would be interesting to see these areas decorated to fit with its history. I also wish you could see the grid and the action backlog as well. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if an enemy was right beside me or needed some more help with knowing if an enemy or a room entrance was diagonally away from my position. Also, sometimes the text for the actions enemies do either go by too fast for me to catch or there is so much going on I don’t catch it. I can see why the action log was omitted as you will only care about it towards the rat enemies, but I sometimes didn’t catch what the rats stole so I don’t know if they took something I cared about or not. This may just be me, but I did also find the map colors for the exit and items too similar, as well as the colors for enemies and traps.
For those wondering what was added in ++, from what I understand it’s mainly to enhance it for the PS5 (which it plays wonderfully on with no loading screen wait times) and adding in things for Toriko. Toriko gets a chance where she’ll play hide and seek or tag with you, she gets some more items and item interactions, more diseases she can contract for you to cure, and some cosmetics. The cosmetics in particular made her look even cuter as you’ll be able to change what she’s wearing and how she wears her hair once you find the blueprints (no first craft bonus for those wondering). If you haven’t played Void Terrarium yet, I would recommend getting ++ as it brought me so much joy when I found something cute for her to wear or seeing her interact with items. For those that already played Void Terrarium and would be getting these additions as DLC, maybe not unless you want to play it again. I did like the additions here, as it made Toriko so cute, but it doesn’t add anything really significant.
I absolutely loved Void Terrarium. It may be a bit weird considering the game laughed at me as it threw me into the pit of despair when facing against the first boss, but it’s true. It has aspects that it could have expanded on, like dungeons having a more varied look, but it’s a great game. It easily brought the addictive aspect of dungeon crawlers, while adding the spin of having to take care of Toriko. As well as the cuteness factor that Toriko brought to the game. I also like the story being more on the chill side as it gave you time to bond with Toriko. Just don’t be demotivated with its difficulty.
I wished I wasn’t initially scared off by the game, but a silver lining is that the sequel is right around the corner. I’m so excited to not only dive right back into dungeon crawling, but also the new additions and the story. We do know we’ll be going into Toriko’s, and by extension the human race’s, past so maybe we’ll get some information on Toriko like how she managed to survive as long as she did, why she was in that giant flask, and how she’s still considered healthy despite the fungi growing out of her.