Terrorarium, available now on Steam from indie studio Stitch Media, is heavily inspired by Pikmin but adds a heavy amount of user-generated creation to help keep things fresh.
As The Gardener, players take the reins over an army of Moogu – small mushroom creatures that she can command, lead, and sacrifice as necessary to make her way through the game’s levels. Throw Moogu into the hungry maw of a beast to get a prized fruit, or fire them at rocks to smash them apart – just don’t get them wet… It’s not a Gremlins thing, they just can’t swim. Lava’s also a problem, so keep them on the straight and narrow, at least until it’s time to sacrifice them in your own best interest.
While your first Moogu are a basic ‘throw them to feed creatures or break things’ type, they pick up some different abilities along the way. You’ll find red fire ones to burn down barricades, for example, but most of the time your key ability is your ability to control the little devils. Throw them over a barricade of spikes you can’t walk through, then wade through water they can’t go through, and then reunite on the other side – that kind of ‘how do I do this without everyone dying’ puzzle is a large part of the gameplay.
One downside is that the Moogu can be difficult to control. Walking along a raised pathway above lava, for example, is a whole lot more dangerous than it should be. I started holding down the spacebar – used to gather the Moogu close by – to keep the little troublemakers from throwing themselves into the lava. I don’t know if they’re suicidal or just stupid, but either way it was incredibly frustrating to lose enough that I couldn’t pass a level because too many had pitched themselves into the lava.
There’s a full-on level editor that’s included, and it’s powerful enough to do some inventive things but requires a level of spatial awareness to create great levels that’s just beyond me. Fortunately, you can hit up a menu to access content others have created, and there’s already a decent selection available.
Terrorarium is a fun little puzzle game that’s easy to pick up and play but expands quickly enough to keep your interest over a longer timeline. If the level editor proves popular with the creative types, gamers should get a lot of playtime out of it.