void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium – Review
Follow Genre: Dungeon Crawler
Developer: NIS America
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: Switch, PS4
Tested on: Switch

void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium – Review

Site Score
7.5
Good: Gorgeous visual style
Bad: Slow pacing takes time to get used to
User Score
7.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

With void tRrLM(); //, NIS have released a game with an unpronounceable title, and we expect most people to refer to it by its secondary title, Void Terrarium. Apart from the baffling title, the game looks like an interesting release, so we took a good look at void tRrLM(); //. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, we’ll simply refer to it by the secondary title as well.

Story

Set in a future where humanity has gone all but extinct, Void Terrarium introduces us to Robbie, a janitorial robot. Robbie inhabits the underground ruïns of a collapsed human society. It’s here that he finds Toriko, a young girl, who is the last remaining human. Toriko’s been infected by toxic fungi, the very same that caused the rest of humanity to disappear. Feeling compassion for Toriko, Robbie takes it upon himself to save the girl. Together with factoryAI, a computer, Robbie must now build a safe haven for Toriko. 

The premise is simple but original, and the dialogue between Robbie and factoryAI is well-written. It’s amusing to read how these two robots deconstruct basic human needs and compare them to how they perceive the world as machines. Despite the serious subject matter, the game feels light-hearted and the dialogue really sells the importance of saving Toriko, to the point where you genuinely start caring about the well-being of this girl. 

Graphics

The cute character designs and beautiful use of color are in stark contrast with the dystopian setting of the game. This well-balanced juxtaposition makes Void Terrarium a game that is both incredibly charming yet hauntingly eerie at the same time. It’s an example of less is more, as nothing in the world of Void Terrarium feels overdesigned. Toriko’s chibi-like design is genuinely adorable, as are factoryAI’s faces. Robbie’s design is a bit less thought-out, which is a bit of a shame as he is the protagonist. We couldn’t quite figure out if the design was supposed to resemble a dog or a rabbit or something else entirely. What the little robot lacks in design clarity, however, is highly compensated by the way it oozes charm. It’s no wonder that NIS decided to put a Robbie plushie up on their webstore. 

Sound

The game’s soundtrack manages to capture the melancholic atmosphere that the story evokes. The slow beats during the story sections contrast with the faster-paced dungeon music, yet both styles feel like equal parts of a bigger whole. The expert use of music turns the soundtrack into a storytelling element that emphasizes Robbie’s plight. It replaces the emotional cues that a voice actor would put into his dialogue. As there is no voice acting here, the soundtrack is a decent substitute. 

Gameplay

Void Terrarium is a Mystery Dungeon-style roguelike dungeon crawler. Players are tasked with guiding Robbie through a series of randomly generated multi-floor dungeons, where he has to obtain items and fight enemies in a semi-turn based manner. As such, the core experience of Void Terrarium doesn’t really bring anything new to the table for anyone that has played a Mystery Dungeon game recently. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as a well-executed dungeon crawler can offer a really fun time, and Void Terrarium certainly fits that bill. There’s a sense of urgency in completing the dungeons too. Partially story-driven, of course, but also because it’s essential to keep an eye on Robbie’s battery level. The challenge here is in making sure Robbie has enough energy to complete his dungeon crawl. Energy is slowly consumed while exploring the dungeon, but using power attacks to fight enemies will also drain Robbie’s battery. As expected for a Mystery Dungeon-style game, the dungeons are filled with enemies and hidden traps, as well as items. Repair kits will restore HP and batteries will restore energy.

Unfortunately, your inventory is limited so you’ll need to know when to use your items and when to hold on to them, as you cannot stock up. Leftover items at the end of a dungeon crawl are converted into resources that are used for Toriko’s terrarium. Other mystery dungeon staples, such as monster houses are present as well. One mechanic that did stand out was that Robbie’s level resets upon entering a dungeon. At first we thought this to be a glitch, as the game never tells you about this, but every time we started a new dungeon crawl, Robbie was reset to level one. This reset isn’t just deliberate, but it also adds a new random element to the game, as every time Robbie levels up, you’re tasked with picking an upgrade that gives Robbie a boost. The upgrades you can choose from are different every time, and as you lose these after leaving a dungeon, you can’t just keep stacking them up or banking on the same upgrades.

The dungeon sections take up the majority of the game, but of course, the game has you take care of Toriko as well. This mostly involves crafting necessary items from resources gathered in the dungeons, such as medicine or upgrades for Toriko’s new living environment. You’ll also need to provide the girl with food. It might seem like a good idea to stock up on lots of food, but food items are perishable and will only last a few days before they start to rot, so there’s some stock management involved here as well. Early on in the game, you’ll unlock Penny 2.0, a Tamagotchi-like interface that tells you all about Toriko’s needs. The parts where you take care of Toriko are well balanced and offered more depth than we initially expected. One thing that we needed to get used to with Void Terrarium is that it’s a very slow-paced game. Despite the sense of urgency that is present in the story, with the need to keep Toriko alive and safe, the unskippable dialogue scenes take up quite a lot of time and while we don’t feel that a word was wasted, it did take some getting used to the rhythm that the game maintains.

Conclusion

Void Terrarium may not bring anything new to the table, but what it does have to offer is surprisingly well-executed. It’s a beautiful, atmospheric game with well-written dialogue, and it will keep fans of Mystery Dungeon games occupied for quite some time, even if it isn’t particularly challenging. If you aren’t familiar with the genre, then Void Terrarium is a fantastic entry point. 

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Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Sebastiaan Raats
Sebastiaan Raats


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