Void Terrarium – Nintendo Switch Review

Overview – developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by NIS America, Voids Terrarium is a mix of rogue-like dungeon crawling RPG, crafting/resource management and emotional storytelling. Set in a dystopian world with a style that mixes beautiful 2D art and striking 3D visuals, providing an experience that stands out on its own. This title is available on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, if you want to check it out for yourself, links to pick it up will be available at the bottom of this review.

Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank NIS America for providing me with the copy of Void Terrarium used for this piece. The provision of this title has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions expressed within are my own.

Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting with the story. (please note: screenshot assets provided through NIS America) UPDATE: a new version of Void Terrarium has been released for PlayStation 5 with additional content and features, a link to this version of the game has been added below.

Story –in Void Terrarium, civilization has collapsed due to the surface being overrun with toxic fungi, forcing humans to move underground for safety. As time passed, the presence of humanity faded due to a series of unfortunate events, leaving the underground to become a wasteland. Now, a lone robot has awoken, wandering the underground scrapyard, he discovers a young girl named Toriko, alone and sick with mushrooms growing from her body.

The robot looks over the young girl, as he does he feels a strong desire to protect her, unsure of what to do, he hears a voice calling out to him. Going towards the voice, a huge screen is discovered, a computer that can communicate with him, calling temself, factoryAI. After learning that the sickly girl is in danger, the robot and factoryAI join together, setting out on a journey to create a safe place for the young girl, a terrarium in the void.

Gameplay – the gameplay in Void Terrarium is split between two locations, the scrapyard where factoryAI will provide objectives and quests for the player to complete, along with the Wasteland where the adventures take place. Also in the scrapyard is the terrarium, the home of Toriko, where the robot cares for her, crafting items, providing food and taking care of her needs. The scrapyard is the home base, where the player can save, load and prepare for their excursions into the wasteland.

The wasteland is made up of procedurally generated dungeons that have their own unique themes, with each zone made up of floors (called layers) that the player can explore, fight enemies, collect resources and complete objectives. The player roams each layer, with each action made ticking over a global turn counter, which is tied to battle, enemy movement and other aspects of gameplay.

Combat is turn based, when encountering enemies, the player and all foes will attack in turn until either the robot is destroyed or all enemies have fallen. Each enemy defeated grants experience, leveling up the robot as each milestone is hit, when the player levels up, new upgrades are made available. Each upgrade that the player selects will stay last until the end of the current expedition.

At points during the progress of the story, the player will encounter boss battles, taking place in large spaces with the boss attacking the player with projectiles, melee attacks and even summoning new foes. These battles are intense and challenging, so taking the time to prepare beforehand may be the best course of action. There are also dangers areas hidden throughout the wasteland, called monster houses, these zones are filled with riches, but also enemies and hazards.

During exploration, players must track two vital stats, HP (health) and EN (energy), which are important to keep the robot active. If the health of the player is fully depleted, the expedition is over and the robot returns to the scrapyard. Health is depleted in a few ways, including traps, damage and status effects. Health does regenerate over time, however this is dependent on EN, which depletes over time and when actions are performed, with health draining if the EN meter is empty.

There are some features that use up energy at an increased rate, including special skills and the remote care of Toriko through a device called the Pet Nanny. The device allows the player to monitor the young girl during expeditions, tracking her hunger, health and other needs. When Toriko is at risk, the Pet Nanny will alert the player, allowing for them to perform care actions, return to the scrapyard and fulfill her other needs as soon as possible.

While wandering the wastelands, the player can pick up weapons, equipment and support items to be during exploration. However, items cannot be taken back to the scrapyard, at the end of an expedition, the items that the player holds will be converted into materials used for crafting. Food can be collected to feed Toriko during excursions, which can be added to the vault at the end of a run if there is space, if not it will be converted into crafting materials.

I will be giving a few details of the different items, with a brief explanation of their purpose and usage. The details are as follows;

  • Weapons – gain additional attack power, with the possibility of additional bonuses depending on the type of weapon and enemies in the area.
  • Shield – grant defensive bonuses, can add additional buffs depending on the item and location it was collected.
  • Batteries – replenish lost energy, the batteries vary with the amount of energy replenished and some will cause additional effects.
  • Repair – regain lost health, repair items vary in the amount of HP that is restored, with some items having additional effects.
  • Mod – an item that is equipped to grant a passive bonus, can grant great power, but has the potential to cause great risk and penalties.
  •  Food – collect food items that can be used to feed Toriko, if the vault is full, they can be consumed by the robot for a boost in energy.
  • General items – these items include explosives, potions and area effects. These items perform a variety of effects and last a single use, granting temporary effects or damaging enemies when thrown.
  • Special items – these items can be used for crafting, providing specialized materials and learning new recipes to craft.

Each item has a different number of resource points, separated into four categories, as the items are broken down their resource points are added to a meter, adding a point to each meter when filled. Crafting items requires a specific value to create them, using up the accumulated points when creating the items. Each time the player crafts an item for the first time permanent bonuses are applied, these include attack boosts, health bonuses and bonuses to the care of Toriko.

The robot will also have the option of creating ability upgrades and special items, allowing customization options for the later exploration and boss battles deeper into the game. The crafting system is well implemented, but it can take a lot of time to grind the different resources needed for crafting. This is an unfortunate downside to the crafting system, as it can slow down the progression at times due to the amount of resources needed to craft some specific items.

There are stressful moments with crafting which added to the tension. This is due to Toriko developing illness, which run the risk of having her fall into a critical condition. When these incidents occur, factoryAI will provide a crafting recipe to treat her, sending the robot out to collect the ingredients. When returning to the home base, the player must craft the needed items using resources that they have collected during exploration.

The last thing I want to talk about is the terrarium decoration. The majority of items that the robot will craft are decorative, which can be placed inside the terrarium to create a happy place for Toriko to live. The glass dome has four layers of depth to lay items, with the ability to lay items in front and behind of others, this suite gives a wonderful touch of personalization to the experience, adding a moment of relaxation to the more stressful moments of play.

Now with the gameplay covered, I want to move into the other aspects of the game, starting with the controls.

Controls – the control scheme for Void Terrarium is very streamlined and simple to use, with function buttons mapped comfortably on the controller, movement on the left side using the stick or D-pad and precision aim using the right stick. There is a problem however, although I am unsure if it is a flaw or part of the turn based system as occasionally inputs will drop, which can be frustrating as it can interrupt the flow of gameplay and make some attacks hard to avoid.

Difficulty – there is no difficulty selection in this game, making it a very challenging experience as the narrative progresses. The random generation of dungeons means items may be scarce at the start, leading to a quick and sudden end the expedition if unprepared. To offset this challenge, players earn permanent upgrades through the crafting system, improving the robots base stats, granting additional skills and more. These progression mechanics balance the difficulty over time, allowing the robot to withstand the attacks of stronger enemies and successfully battle the bosses.

Presentation – the visuals for Void Terrarium are separated into two distinct styles. The dungeon crawling gameplay uses bold 3D models, with a diverse selection of environments in the wasteland. The 3D models contrast well with the soft, beautifully designed 2D art for the home base and main story. The characters are designed well, with factoryAI expressing emotions with cute facial expressions and tender moments between the robot and Toriko, giving an emotional touch to the game.

The sound is made of only music and sound effects, with gentle orchestral compositions and synth/electronic music that adds to the overall experience. There is an absence of voice acting, with all dialogue made up of text on screen, this doesn’t detract at all from the game and ties things together well. I enjoy the way that the sound and design complement each other, making gameplay flow smoothly throughout.

Final Thoughts – overall, I really enjoyed my time with Void Terrarium, it was a difficult and challenging experience but incredibly rewarding. The difficulty level is brutal and can be a little off-putting to some players, but is alleviated by taking the time to grind resources and supplies. The systems related to caring for Toriko can be very stressful, due to the amount of tension it can cause during exploration, especially with the potential for food items to be scarce.

The resource management and care system may be a deterrent for some, whereas the difficulty of random dungeon generation could be a roadblock for others. However, I can happily recommend this title to those who enjoy action RPGS and rogue-like titles. If you can get past the challenges present, you will find that this is a rewarding and compelling title that can pull you in.

I found the overall experience to be emotionally engaging, leading me to care about the fate of Toriko more as the story progressed. This manifested itself during instances where she required urgent care, causing a feeling of stress and anxiety that I did not expect to have during my time with Void Terrarium.

In the end, I give Void Terrarium a score of 4/5. This title features an engaging and compelling story that pulls you in, with charming characters, well thought out crafting/decoration mechanics and a virtual pet style care system that is stressful yet rewarding during play. The only downside was the toughness of the dungeon crawling, but this can be reduced over time. If you want to check this game out for yourself, links to purchase it are below.

Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)

Link to PlayStation 4 version (HERE)

Link to PlayStation 5 version Void Terrarium++ (HERE)

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