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When you’ve been name dropped by the kids of South Park, you know you’ve hit the big time. Such is the case with Minecraft –transforming from indie curio into tree punching pop-culture phenomenon. But a challenger has terraformed in the shape of quirky dungeon crawler Terraria. With both games sharing similar DNA, which handcrafted sandbox reigns supreme? We begin with story, and it’s clear that several similar concepts replace story in both games. In Minecraft, you’ll mine resources to become the architect of your own unique cubed worlds.However, as dusk falls, the monsters come out to play, and you’ll need to take refuse or fight to survive. After these first steps, you’ll claw back the freedom to explore the land as you see fit, growing more powerful and more equipped with every passing day. Terraria on the other hand sees you… mining resources… to become… the architect of… um, hold on …dusk falls… monsters come… fight to survive… explore… Okay; it’s the same. It’s exactly the same. As such, we end our first round with a tie. The shared build-your-own adventure ethos might put us at equal footing, but does either game excel when it comes to gameplay? Minecraft is defined by its emphasis on crafting, with each unique world acting as a canvas to build and sculpt. There are no mandatory objectives, but eventually you’ll venture into mysterious alternate dimensions. Terraria features similar gameplay, yet the 2D aesthetic adds an air of 16 bit charm as you explore the landscape in search of adventure. Despite the cutsy visuals, there’s an astonishing level of depth in Terraria. Hours can be whittled away as you explore and fight your way through your unique world, putting Terraria into the lead. The complex gameplay gives Terraria an edge, but which game offers the most impressive visuals? Utilising rudimentary Lego style blocks, Minecraft isn’t exactly ground-breaking. And yet it’s the unfussy visuals that have won over legions of fans, perhaps due to the freedom to create 3D worlds which embody the spirit of retro gaming. Alternatively, Terraria goes a step further with its nostalgic 2D graphics that are reminiscent of classic SNES titles like The Legend of Zelda and Metroid. It may seem primitive, yet there’s a genuine charm to Terraria’s 16 bit flavour. Sadly, it can’t compete with the marvel of building sprawling worlds in 3D, and Minecraft fights back to take our third round.

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