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.

Hey look, it's a giant disembodied head that attacks you with it's two disembodied hands. Just like in Terraria!

Hey look, it’s a giant disembodied head that attacks you with its two disembodied hands. Just like in Terraria!

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.

If I seem like I'm being too harsh on Dinora, I'll remind you that Terraria was developed by two guys using XNA.  Two guys whose brains I assure you are no bigger than yours or mine or the guys who made Dinora.  But Dinora looks so much worse than Terraria, in addition to sounding worse, playing worse, and lacking the multiplayer aspect.  What makes me shake my head in disappointment is that to make a knock-off that is this close to the original in so many aspects took actual talent, I think.  I just wish they had applied that talent to something original.  I hope these guys gut it out and make something quirky, weird, and new.  Something not done before.

If I seem like I’m being too harsh on Dinora, I’ll remind you that Terraria was developed by two guys using XNA. Two guys whose brains I assure you are no bigger than yours or mine or the guys who made Dinora. But Dinora looks so much worse than Terraria, in addition to sounding worse, playing worse, and lacking the multiplayer aspect. What makes me shake my head in disappointment is that to make a knock-off that is this close to the original in so many aspects took actual talent, I think. I just wish they had applied that talent to something original. I hope these guys gut it out and make something quirky, weird, and new. Something not done before.

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?”

Alan with the Tea said it best to me: they tried to do what Terraria took years to perfect in short order. Or, at the very least, the game gives that perception. For all I know, they've been working on Dinora for years. I sure hope not.

Alan with the Tea said it best to me: they tried to do what Terraria took years to perfect in short order. Or, at the very least, the game gives that perception. For all I know, they’ve been working on Dinora for years. I sure hope not.

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.

xboxboxartDinora was developed by Neuron Vexx

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.

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

20 Responses to Dinora

  1. AxelMill98 says:

    Ok, maybe it isn’t all that good, but Terraria costs 15 times this one. Let’s call it a Lite version.

  2. Neuron Vexx says:

    Thanks for the review, its a shame you weren’t a fan. Just to note though you say everything can be summed up by a door – you can change your build reach in the options menu so its perfectly possible to build a house without the need of a staircase. It should probably have been made clear that this option is available but it kind of puts a hole in the analogy maybe (or am I just clutching at straws!!!). Anyway until this day I thought I was a bit of an artist but judging from the comments (from everyone, not just you) it seems I was quite deluded – I shall definately try and avoid contributing my “art” next time. Lastly the giant disembodied head is based on Andross from starfox, a game out long before terraria. Thanks again for the review.

    • But there’s more issues with the door that someone else covered. And I’m not sure why you wouldn’t have the build reach stretch further by default. I’ll add a correction to it.

      • Neuron Vexx says:

        Thanks. The build reach was set at that level after feedback from play testing. When its set at maximum reach the sensitivity of the right stick was too much for some people and takes a little to get used to (admittedly that suggests perhaps an alternative control system may be better). I guess maybe i should introduce a quick way to swap between a large build reach (for building) and a short build reach (for directly controlling where you mine), or maybe just try a different way to control this altogether.

  3. Jim Perry says:

    It doesn’t matter how cheap a knock off is if it’s bug-ridden and not fun. I’ll pay the extra money for something that actually works and is fun. It’s a shame devs can’t just make a little extra effort to release something that works and is fun to play. It would only help them in the end.

  4. Gryzor says:

    I’m compiling a fairly large “please fix this!” list for Neuron Vexx after playing this a few nights in a row; but I’ll straddle the fence here and say… I think it’s worth playing anyways. On first sight, it’s a pretty brazen clone; but the way it diverges from it’s obvious ‘inspiration’ can be pretty intriguing at times.

    I really, really like the separate quick bars, Terraria totally needs this feature. Inventory access pausing the game is huge, huge plus as far as I’m concerned, too.

    They fixed a lot of minor quibbles I had with Terraria as well, too: trees grow back, there’s more kinds of animals, you don’t idiotically hear ‘hit’ sounds from just swinging at the air, having everything on one screen (inventory/chest/equip/etc.) simplifies quite a bit, although they probably should’ve had a separate one for crafting. I do like how there are random NPCs wandering about rather than just having them materialize out of thin air when certain conditions are met. The world just feels far less empty that way.

    Plenty of minor gripes, though, like items not stacking with ones already in your inventory, the door issue where it has to be opened/closed a specific way making it annoying to shut out baddies in a pinch, being able to accidentally dump an item stack by hitting B when moving stuff around, materials disappearing before you can get to them, losing quest rewards if your inventory is full (lost an alien laser rifle due to this… ouch!)

    The biggest problem I have is the enemies. They’re just too tough and spongy and that spoils most everything that would be potentially interesting here. It makes it EVEN MORE dangerous to go out at night, reducing your time to explore and gather and makes the would-be-cool little special events and NPC quests nigh impossible.

    I think the NPC aspect here has loads of potential, though. I really hope they keep working on the game and get some of these issues squared away. 🙂

  5. Crichton says:

    Have you played it Jim? Terraria had its fair share of MAJOR bugs on XBLA whereas I haven’t come across any real game destroying bugs in Dinora (I even found an option to extend the building so you can build high enough to put doors its just a shame it wasn’t more obvious you could do this before starting my first game!)

  6. Fuck says:

    How the motherfuck do you make a chair in this game?

  7. Drake Riemenschneider says:

    but how do you get them to move in i dont understand

    • Neuron Vexx says:

      I’ll post a tutorial vid on youtube. Essentially you can assign anyone you have spoken with to a home via the hat stand. The person you assign will be the last you spoke to unless you change this in the inventory using the NPC Focus section

  8. Mataeus says:

    Yeah, it disheartens me when people see what little media coverage an indie game like this gets and jump on the ‘slag it off’ bandwagon because of it’s obvious influences.
    There’s not a chance in hell anyone would argue that the Developer likes Terraria, spied a hole in the Indie market to produce a very similar game at less than one-tenth the selling price and make a business out of doing so.
    There’s nothing wrong with doing that at all; taking advantage of a currently popular theme / genre / product / business model and trying to make it work for you is called good business sense . You can’t make a living by selling stuff that people don’t want! Valve, Bethesda, Activision, Microsoft, Sega, Nintendo (64), iD, 3D Realms, Epic… All of their flagship games have been at some point first person action games. Nobody plays Bioshock and goes “Oh, what a rip-off of Castle Wolfenstein”!
    What makes it acceptable to imitate another game / film / book (thus giving birth to a genre) is whether you try to improve the formula or do something different with it.
    I feel Dinora does the latter; it doesn’t improve on Terraria’s base features, they are more-or-less identical. What it tries to do is add a layer of depth buried beneath the surface with relationships and how NPCs are handled in the world.
    There’s a basic Sims-style relationship sim under the surface; one that, whilst it isn’t the main focus of the game and doesn’t get in the way of the Terraria style elements that work so well, really adds to them and gives the game depth and meaning. You want to take care of your wife; you want to provide safe shelter for your baby and keep the farm running. You are appeasing the Darkness and keeping the world safe for a reason beyond “because it’s there”. These aren’t a family of McGuffins – they make a difference to the game world.
    Thats why I get so irked at people’s comments on various sites in response to the game videos: “Oh, it looks just like Terraria! I will not support such a blatant rip-off!” They haven’t even played the game . They have no idea how it’s being supported, that fan feedback is being taken on board, that the developer may want to take the ideas further than the source material by adding his own elements of fun and interaction.
    I just wish people would look past the obvious influence and see what a great (and significantly less expensive to buy) game is underneath.
    Terraria looks better, yeah, but I don’t think I could go back now. I’d miss the NPC element so much.
    Great Work NeuronVexx. I hope sales continue to drive you to develop it further still.

    • Mataeus says:

      N.B. This comment was posted by me initially on the Dinora forum. That’s why it opens the way it does.
      I’m not implying that Indie Gamer Chick is slagging it off, nor is it in direct response to this review. It’s just my opinion, as always.

  9. bobby says:

    This game is way better then tarraria. Tar. Had a lot of crap like the aiming was terrible. This game has a lot of good and very little bad. Ppl gotta get off the notch band wagon and play some other good games like this without ranting about stuff and complaining.

    • Mataeus says:

      I do like it so much better, especially having put quite a few hours into Terraria recently.
      Another thing is that when you go back into the world of Dinora, it looks so clean and uncluttered and – my God – it’s so much easier to navigate. Every time I try to close a door in Terraria I have to go into accurate cursor mode and highlight it, otherwise I’m accessing chests, talking to NPCs… Anything except keeping the bloody monsters out of my house!
      In Dinora, I walk into the door, hit X, walk through, hit X. Easy Peasy.
      Secondly, in Terraria you have to keep slowing down when placing blocks / back walls otherwise you end up with parts missing. In Dinora you place blocks / walls as fast as you walk, meaning you can just hold the trigger as you run.
      These points sum up the whole experience for me – so much more comfortable, responsive, and controller friendly. Brilliant.
      The second patch is being worked on by NeuronVexx right now; most of the stuff is being implemented for the addition of multiplayer, both Local and online. when this is out, I’d like to see it get a second chance with the chick, as all of the spongy enemies and getting swamped has already been solved 🙂

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  12. alvinchimp says:

    The games not bad for 1 dollar
    Terraria for the people who are cheap like me

    They have patched alot of the issues and i like the npcs they can start familys and have jobs more advanced than terrarias.

    But yes i do prefer terraria

  13. Justin Deuel says:

    You know, it’s thanksgiving in america and me and two of my buddies just lost our entire friggen day to this hidden gem. Most other guys would be watching the football game but here we were playing a terraria clone, it isn’t as refined nor does it need to be, and in some aspects it’s even deeper than terraria, it’s a great little game and for a dollar you’d be insane to pass it up.

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