On its surface, tERRORbane might look like any other retro-style JRPG. That couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Developer BitNine Studios leveraged the clean, crisp look of 16-bit graphics to bring players into their world. And what kind of world is that? It’s one filled with tongue-in-cheek humour, snarky commentary on the player and game development, and references to seemingly every game ever created (and some we’re still waiting on).
tERRORbane invites players to explore “scores of wacky errors and witty glitches” in order to help, or hinder, the developer in his quest to fix his game. The premise gives tERRORbane ample room to explore its humour and subvert player expectations.
A Great Sense Of Humour
I was able to play a short demo and thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game. In the roughly half an hour it took me to get through the demo, the fourth-wall wasn’t just broken. It was obliterated. Self-aware NPCs, gaming references galore, and jokes about the name I had originally given my character were the norm.
Simply put, the game has a great sense of humour. Admittedly, it would be very easy for such jokes and references to get old quickly. However, there is so much creativity behind them that I never had an issue. In fact, I spent a lot of time walking around Whiskerburg to make sure I hadn’t missed any NPCs.
Case in point, the game used my name as a joke. Early in the demo, I was asked to enter a name for the main character. As soon as I did, the omniscient Developer decided that it wasn’t good enough and promptly changed it to Terrorbane. Later in the game, a guard posted in front of a castle refused to believe I was the great Terrorbane, instead saying that I looked more like a Jameson.
In another case, the first villager I spoke to immediately joined my party. There was no conversation or options. She just joined. At a level below 1, she seemed more interested in throwing cookies at enemies. Shortly after, I inspected a box of pears and, to my dismay, it joined my party.
To illustrate how far tERRORbane takes its jokes, the box of pears’ stats were based on the nutritional value of pears. It’s the little details that really help draw out a chuckle.
I wasn’t far into the demo when I realized how passionate the small team at BitNine Studios are about games. References to gaming’s history are peppered into almost every part of the game. Some are overt references, such as a hidden room that is an exact replica of The Legend of Zelda‘s “It’s dangerous to go alone” room. Others play on the tropes and stereotypes of games throughout history. For example, getting into the castle required me to complete a fetch quest. As soon as I turned in the sacred medallion, the guard who had ordered me to get it quickly tossed it aside like garbage.
I also noticed some Half-Life 3 “cover art” hidden in plain view. Good on you if you can find it yourself.
While references are prominent in tERRORbane, they exist to bring a smile to the player’s face. It’s more than likely that some will go over many players’ heads, but that’s fine.
They Aren’t Bugs, They’re Features
The meat of the game is based around finding bugs and glitches to help the Developer. Imagine my surprise when the ground I walked on began to float away, unveiling scrolling green code à la The Matrix. In the demo, every section ended with a grade based on how many bugs I discovered.
In other words, tERRORbane is the kind of games that completionists will love. It’s quite fun to find a bug and see how it affects the game world. I found myself checking every nook and cranny to make sure I din’t miss anything. Of course, I missed some. However, I intend to revisit the demo and correct that.
tERRORbane In Short
BitNine Studios claims that tERRORbane is a passion project and a love letter to iconic games of several generations. I truly believe that. It’s easy to see the love and knowledge put into the game.
It’s a funny, nostalgia-inducing adventure that begs for more than one playthrough.
tERRORbane is coming soon for PC and Nintendo Switch. PC players can visit the game’s Steam page and wishlist it now.
You can watch the announcement trailer here: