Terracotta is a game that knows just how to hand out challenges without overwhelming players with an overload of information. With each new puzzle, I found myself pulling back to look at the playing field as a whole before making the next move. For a game with over 80 hand-crafted levels, the ability to maintain a level of uniqueness with each new level can make or break the experience overall. In the case of Terracotta, I found myself feeling a sense of accomplishment with each success. Pair this with exciting boss fights that will put you on the edge of your seat and you have a wonderful concoction that makes each session fun.
The story of Terracotta revolves around a warrior who was chosen to protect the world in the afterlife. By utilizing some new found powers, the warrior is tasked with overcoming a multitude of challenges while facing down dangerous enemies in order to keep the world safe. The power of the Tao is given to the warrior and this becomes his main way of interacting with the twin realms, Yin and Yang, during his journey.
While the story of Terracotta is a reason to pick it up, the gameplay is the main reason to stick around. I found the use of the two different realms for both story purposes as well as a gameplay element to be a fresh take on puzzle “rooms”. Since the game requires players to switch between both worlds to find out new solutions without having to completely rip the player away with something like loading screens, the immersion is able to continue on without being broken. For example there are segments where something in Yang may be broken, such as a bridge or a tree blocking a path, and players are able to press a button to switch over to the other realm. The obstacle may not exist in this world or it may be in a different state which means that players are able to progress without having to go to a statue or switch to make the realm change. By not halting progression with an unnecessary step, I found myself able to continue through each puzzle without frustration in regards to actually getting to the puzzle itself.
Enemies in the game will try to hinder the warriors progress so it was important that I paid attention to the world around me as I solved the puzzles presented to me. There were instances where I had to utilize the wall ability to block arrows from causing damage. While the warrior may not be able to directly fight back, his abilities to solve puzzles can also be used in combat to help get away without a scratch on him. Instead of breaking the game up into puzzle and combat segments, Terracotta manages to blend both elements in a way that keeps the game moving without causing things to come to a halt.
My time with the game was one spent being mesmerized by both the wonderful art style as well as the soothing music as I took my time to solve each puzzle. There were some minor glitches that prevented me from progressing in certain areas but at the time of this review, I was playing through it on both the steam deck when it was unverified as well as the Pc so this may not be the case for other players. For those looking for a strong puzzle game with a unique story and setting, Terracotta is definitely worth adding to the collection.