Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Once again NISA has brought us a title that is absolutely impossible to pronounce without outside description. void tRrLM();, or “Void Terrarium” as is probably easier, is a hybrid tamagotchi slash roguelike that’s 3 parts cute, 1 part frustration, and 1 part pet caretaking.
In Void Terrarium you play as an unnamed robot, roaming a post-apocalyptic world where spores have forced humans to live underground. Due to human nature, however, those humans have gone extinct. Well, our robot protagonist finds one of those humans thought to be extinct. Unfortunately, the human can’t go outside, or really fend for herself. As such, it is up to you to provide the human with what she needs: shelter, air filters, food, and medicine when she gets sick.
As the robot, your main goal is to craft the necessary components for the terrarium that the human lives in. In order to do this, you need to go out and collect resources from the dilapidated wasteland that is what the world has become. Here is where the roguelike comes in, as when you venture into an area you start at level 1 on the first layer, and your goal is to defeat enemies to gain levels, collect items, and find the warp pad that brings you to the next layer. In the same vein as games like “Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon” or the mystery dungeon series itself with Shiren, where you will move through the layers of the dungeon on a grid of squares, one square at a time, and where enemies will only move when you move.
In this case, you see a lot more robots than Pokemon, however. Those of you who aren’t familiar with the style, you have layers that consist of large rooms, usually with a few items in them on the floor and some enemies, and connecting paths between them. As you move through the rooms looking for the exit, you can pick up as many items as your inventory will allow, usually consisting of food for the human, equipment to help you through the layers, and items for healing health and energy. Energy gets expended as you perform actions, and upon running out will start to drain your health instead. Considering energy is also used to activate special skills, you may want to pay attention to this resource.
As you beat up other robots and sh*tty rats that steal all your items, you will level up. On level, you can choose a level bonus that is provided to you. Normally these will be attack, defence, or health increases, but could also be passives such as adding corrosive damage to your attacks, or increasing your critical hit rate. If you feel that you aren’t getting the specific oriented skills you want, there is a crafting option that can help, which I will talk a bit about a little later.
After finishing your trip into an area, any items you have collected that aren’t crafting specific items, food, or blueprints will be turned into four different resources. These resources are used for crafting items. So what do these items get you, despite the plot mandatory ones? Well, it depends on what you’re crafting. Some items are upgrades to your inventory capacity, and some will allow you to start a delve into the wasteland with certain skills already known. Others will bias your level up bonus towards certain play styles, such as defensive or offensive type abilities. You can also craft cosmetic items for the human’s terrarium, which will also give you a bonus the first time you craft them. But be warned, the human is just that: human. She can contract disease and get hungry, so it is up to you to keep the human well fed and disease free.
Finding food is, relatively, easy enough, but the human will still get hungry while you are out, or if you aren’t paying attention. It is important to keep your human well fed with food low in corruption value. As the world is overrun by deadly spore puffs, it could make the human sick if she gets exposed to too much negative stimulus. BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR HUMAN HEALTHY AND HER HOME CLEAN. Early on you are given a sort of remote monitoring device to see how the living condition of the human. You can remotely clean the human’s living quarters at the expense of a large amount of energy while you are on an expedition, but the cost really hurts.
And now we get back to my point about the “roguelike tamagotchi”. Ultimately, you’re both caring for a human as well as dungeon delving for items and resources to build a safe home for the human. Void Terrarium is rather cute, with a 2D style to interact with the human in the base camp, and transitioning to a 3D style when out gathering resources. The character interactions with your helpful AI friend and entertaining, and you’ve picked up a cute human to take care of. If there’s any issue with the presentation, I would say it’s in the soundtrack. Not because it’s bad, far from it. I actually found it super relaxing. Too relaxing, really. I fell asleep about four times while playing, not because I was bored, but just because the music lulled me off.
Overall, I have to say that Void Terrarium is quite the well put together roguelike. The combat is well built, if not a little tough at times, item drop rates aren’t abysmal, and apart from a few spots of bad luck and a rat stealing one of my key items and running straight into a monster house, there wasn’t much I can complain about. I mean, it did take me an embarrassingly long time to figure out there are different tabs in the crafting menu, but that’s just a personal gaffe really.
Ultimately, Void Terrarium can be tough, but reasonable, which even my luck is the most I can ask out of roguelikes anymore. The characters are cute, the styles mesh well together, and honestly? Having a “human tamogatchi” was actually pretty fun. Hopefully Void tRrLM(); appeals to you as much as it did to me.Score: 9 / 10