May 17, 2013 7 Comments
Dinora bears a strong resemblance to Terraria, the sleeper-hit that’s climbing up the charts on XBLA, and of which I reviewed the PSN version. As a reminder of what I felt of Terraria, I was annoyed by its numerous game-killing glitches, then went on to lose 50+ hours to a borderline-addiction to it. So, I guess you can say I’m a fan of it. Oh, I’m done with it. For reals this time. I swear. No really. Stop looking at me like that. Look, Brian and me went to play it a little more and the glitches they patched out were replaced by even worse glitches that made half the world invisible to me. So seriously, I’m over it. It’s out of my system. Had a good time while it lasted, but the thrill is gone.
At least until they patch it some more.
And possibly a reunion if they do DLC for it.
Never did kill that wall of flesh either.
You know, we had just started doing plumbing the last time we played it. There are lots of unexplored uses for that.
NO, STOP CATHY! Remember that 12 step program.
Of course, if you can’t get Terraria out of your system, there’s always Dinora on XBLIG for 80 Microsoft Points. It will either curb your Terraria addiction or give you nuclear-level cravings for it. Feast or famine. For me? It really did help to strengthen my resolve to never play Terraria again. Which impressed the hell out of Brian, who has since gone on a quest looking for the Dinora-equivalent of something to help me quit smoking. He’s wasting his time, since that’s probably lung cancer.
When I said Dinora had a resemblance to Terraria, I wasn’t being coy. It looks just like a cheap, unrefined, non-pixel-art version of it. But endearingly so, like when a kindergartener draws a picture of his family. Sure, it’s crude, but hey look, it’s your family! Not sure why the dog looks like a shark, but whatever. And that’s Dinora: looks the part, if the part was left out in the sun too long. And guess what? It plays the part too! Well, kind of. I suppose it’s like if you had a friend who got sucked into a jet engine and his broken body was held together by staples and kept alive using a machine. It’s still your friend, but not really. And that’s Dinora: like Terraria on life support.
Everything bad about Dinora I can explain using something as simple as a door. In Terraria, you have to build a shelter to stay safe at night for when the monsters come out. This involves putting up walls, then covering the back wall, and finally sticking a door to enter through. This is typically the first thing you do when you turn the game on. Dinora does the same thing, only it does it badly. In order to place a door in Dinora, you must have four spaces of clearance, plus solid blocks above and below you. Okay, that door is just way too big, but it gets worse, because you can’t actually reach five blocks above you to place a block to hold the door. Thus you’re required to build a staircase to create enough clearance to have room for the door. Sure, you could just have your house dip slightly underground, but what if I don’t want that? I mean, it’s unsanitary! It’s so badly handled and stinks of careless design that it makes me sad. I really loved Terraria, and I would be totally game to enjoy a clone of it that offers more features. The problem here is that Dinora does everything Terraria does, only it does it worse. So who cares about the new features?
Correction: Apparently you can adjust the building reach in the options menu. I’m not sure why the default is so low, nor would I have thought to check to see if you can adjust reach. I still think Dinora is bad though, for many more reasons.
The enemies look lame, and on the default difficulty, they utterly swarm you. Pretty spongy, too. Your character moves too slow, jumps to shallowly, and is pretty much useless. At least as the class I picked: a miner. This multiple-character types function seems like it would work better when playing in a party. When I played Terraria, Brian and I divided responsibilities. He built our shelter and tunneled to hell, while I mined for precious metals and fought bosses. There’s no multiplayer in any form for Dinora, which sucks because that’s the hook that kept me coming back to the original. The enjoyment of playing it with the man that I love. Left on my own, the world was quite boring and I just wished I could play it with Brian.
The controls are much clunkier as well, though this stems from the best of intentions. You can now equip stuff to both hands, with the left and right triggers and bumpers used to scroll through items. Great theory in concept, but it turns an already unwieldy design into a digital form of patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time. Even the most staunch fans of Terraria on consoles will probably admit that the controls were anything but intuitive. Could they have been done better? I don’t know. But at least with Dinora, now we can point to something and say “but it could have been a lot worse. See?”
Dinora comes from the root of Dinah, a Hebrew name meaning “justified.” That’s ironic, because I honestly can’t justify the existence of Dinora. It’s just one bad issue after another. While it does aim to add complexity to the Terraria formula, adding new minerals to mine and giving you new tasks to keep up with, it ultimately feels like a really bad, hastily made knock-off. Terraria is a game that’s been being developed and refined for years now. I certainly don’t expect the level of sophistication it has in an XBLIG clone. But this doesn’t even come close to offering the satisfaction of that one. Even if I had never played Terraria before, I wouldn’t have liked Dinora. The bad movement parameters that need way more thought put into them, and the overall shoddiness of the control design need way more time in the cooker. Is there a good game buried in here somewhere? Sure, I suppose. If you ignore every single major flaw, of which there are numerous. But, if you strip away all of those, you’re left with a game that is already out and available for this platform. The Minecraft clones on XBLIG came out before the real Minecraft hit the console, which makes their existence mean something. Dinora is a poor-man’s Terraria and simply can’t escape that shadow. So what do you do if you only have $1 and want to experience what all the hype is about? Well, you probably should try to remember how you got that $1 in the first place and just repeat the process fourteen times.
80 Microsoft Points appreciate that the guys at Neuron Vexx warned me about the ultra flashy company splash screen in the making of this review. Of course, my attention span is roughly that of a Cocker Spaniel, so I promptly forgot the warning and I nearly had a seizure when I booted it up in the making of this review. Actually, I did that twice. Why? Because I’m a fucking moron. That’s why.