Published and Developed by Payload Studios – Out 29th May 19 on Nintendo Switch – also available on Xbox One, PS4 & PC
TerraTech has something that hasn’t been seen since one of its inspirations was released some years ago: originality. There’s a lot of its influences on the surface, but as a gameplay experience it did feel quite unique. To put it crudely, and to give you a good idea of what to expect, it comes across as Minecraft meets Farming Simulator with a bit of Twisted Metal thrown in for good measure (and if this was around when I was a lot younger it would probably have been an all time favourite). Starting off as a pod falling to the planets surface, you begin as what could almost be described as a Lego car. You receive the main cab that operates your vehicle, and then receive a series of interchangeable parts, including wheels, guns, lights, radars etc. These all build up the game experience, opening new items to add to your vehicle as well as ways to get around. Starting off relatively small, you will encounter other vehicles, which 99% of the time will be hostile. You defeat them by using whatever weapons you have at your disposal at the time, and once the enemy vehicle is defeated, whatever remains of them is yours for the taking. This could be extra blocks to make your vehicle a little bigger, or batteries used for certain types of equipment, or, once you start earning a decent amount of EXP and leveling up, different types of vehicle blocks or chassis if you will.
When starting out, your blocks are a dull grey, with very little aesthetically pleasing, but you can still come up with some neat vehicle designs, with the age old cliche of the only limit being your imagination. After first leveling up, you’re then given some different, more robust blocks, this time making you look like some sort of JCB or other industrial construction vehicle. This also introduces newer elements to the vehicles and really challenges you on what the best design for your machine will be. As not only do they have to take hits from opposing vehicles, which can get quite overwhelming sometimes, especially if they’re quicker than you, but also you have to harvest materials in order to earn money to upgrade your own venture as well. There are randomly located pods, which act as shops and hubs to select missions, as you’ll be exploring vast landscapes of activity and keeping bad guys at bay. The main draw here though is the vehicular combat and making the best, or most out there vehicle you can think of.
As well as the story mode, there’s a couple of other game modes to enjoy as well. Casual mode gives you free reign over what you get to do, whether there’s any adversaries in the game and you also start off with a couple of pretty decent vehicles, including a plane. This is great for taking your time with vehicular designs and not having the pressure of enemies getting in the way. There’s also a gauntlet mode which lets you drive a premade vehicle against a racecourse, be it the preset one you are given or you can choose one from your saved games. It’s easier said than done, as if you veer out of the race track lines you blow up. And you really feel it through the joycons if you’re playing it handheld. Speaking of which, this is when the game looks its best. With the Switch docked, it’s almost as if the image loses some resolution or seems zoomed in, but handheld it looks just fine. The visuals are pretty basic though, and there are times where you’ll feel you’ve seen better draw distances on the N64. The game’s got a fairly standard soundtrack although there are occasions it wouldn’t feel out of place on the Red Dead Redemption score. It’s a very neat game, and one that could see you sink hours into trying to come up with the perfect vehicle. 10 year old me would have spent hours and hours on this.