Sometimes, great things come in small packages. This well-known phrase perfectly describes the game I’ve been obsessed with over the last week, void tRrLM();++ //Void Terrarium++. The game itself is a measly 366MB when installed upon the PlayStation 5, yet it took just over 30 hours to grab the platinum trophy – they also say that size doesn’t matter, another phrase that seems perfect for this game! I’ve been waiting so long to get my hands on this game, having platinumed the PS4 version last year, but was it worth the wait?
Nippon Ichi Software were the developers, with their western publishing division (NIS America) providing the publishing outside of Japan. The same team who worked on Void Terrarium++ (as it shall be shortened to from now on) also created A Rose in the Twilight and htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary, utilising a very similar visual design which instantly makes the game stand out from other games within this addictive genre – a roguelike dungeon crawler.
The big question is; if you already own the game on the PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch, is it worth picking up this new native PS5 edition? Is it a drastic change and does it offer anything new in terms of content? Let’s take a closer look at the game and then conclude with the answers to these two important questions…
The human race is dead, killed off by toxic fungi that evolved and infected every single living being upon the Earth. Or so we thought. You are a discarded maintenance robot, ala Wall-E, who finds himself in the scrapyard along with all of the other damaged and/or useless machines. But, as you make your way through the trash in hopes of escaping from this mechanical prison, you stumble upon something beautiful, a young girl buried beneath a pile of dirt. At first glance it would appear she is a well-preserved corpse, but no! She’s alive, just very sick.
Unsure what to do, you make a second discovery, an old AI known as factoryAI which is located within a large monitor staring at the sky. After nursing the girl back to health and giving her a name, Toriko, you both decide to make it your mission to ensure nothing harms your new human friend, starting with repairing the ‘house’ which has kept her safe for many years. Well, I say ‘house’ but it’s technically a terrarium, a giant glass dome with a cork-doored entrance that helps keep all of the toxic spores and fumes away from her easily contaminated lungs.
From here on, you must venture into the hostile creature and robot infested world and seek out items that you can use to construct gifts and furniture for the human, as well as cures when she becomes ill and plot-based items to further enhance her stay in the glass sanctuary. The game is hard, very hard at first, yet as you progress and increase your stats by building new things with the items you find, it slowly becomes easier and less frustrating. The narrative and dialogue get quite emotional as you uncover the truth behind the humans and how ensuring Toriko remains healthy can help the entire human race…
Void Terrarium++ is a roguelike dungeon crawler with the same gameplay as the ‘Mystery dungeon’ franchise/genre. Each time you enter one of the dungeons, a procedurally generated map is created with a single exit point. Your goal is to find this portal and use it to make your way further into the dungeon, with each floor bumping up the difficulty of the enemies which spawn within them. However, if you were to simply speed through the floor, find the exit, and progress, you’ll find yourself quickly overwhelmed and far too weak to take on the creatures who want to destroy you.
As such, the best course of action is to simply wander all around the floor you’re on, kill anything that moves, gain experience points, level up, and pick up any weapons and items which will benefit you on the next floor – before jumping into the portal. Each time you level up, you get the choice of two boosts – such as increasing your attack, health, or accuracy – of which you can pick one. Harvesting these random effects are the key to your survival, combining multiple effects in order to pimp yourself out and turn into a badass!
If you’ve not played a game in this genre before, the enemies only move when you move, allowing you to plan what you’re going to do or which way you want to face before engaging in combat and/or moving. But, as soon as you do move or wave your fists in the air, the enemies will either move about their own random pathways or begin to stalk you if you’ve been spotted. In order to survive as long as possible, you’ll have to throw various bombs, equip weapons and armour, and use consumables to uncover secrets and traps (yes, there’s a lot of hidden traps). Just don’t let yourself get surrounded – that’s an easy way to end up as scrap!
However, as this is a roguelike game, don’t get too attached to your temporary enhancements. Once you die (and you will die), you’re stripped of everything and thrown back into the trash yard as a mere level one maintenance robot. Any important items and resources you find will, thankfully, come with you so you can make use of them for crafting, and all other items are reduced down to various minerals which, once again, are used for crafting. So, although the game does start out rather frustrating and difficult, dying is only the beginning as what you gain in death can be used to make yourself stronger the next time.
There are multiple types of things that you’ll craft as you play Void Terrarium++. If you ignore the human and let her get ill then you’ll have to seek cure ingredients and materials to make things such as splinters, you can build furniture to please the girl, build things for factoryAI in hopes it’ll help preserve Toriko, and craft enhancements for yourself to make your tiny robot stronger and more efficient. As mentioned above, most items will require certain key items that are found in the various locations, as well as a certain number of components which you get by automatically breaking down any non-essential items upon death or exiting the final floor in the dungeon.
If you find blueprints when you’re off on your adventures, you can craft various items for the terrarium such as beds, chairs, blood puddles, stuffed bears, and even the moon! Each of these isn’t only for decoration to keep your enclosed guest entertained, but you also gain a boost the first time you make one of them, such as an increase in attack, more inventory, or a higher defence. This is basically how you’re able to keep pushing forward – you collect resources, die, then build things that make you stronger so you can push forward a little more on your next run.
Finally, you can increase the protagonist’s abilities and stats through Knacks, Custom Parts, and Equipment. Knacks are like classes, each one boosting or lowering certain attributes and stats. At first, you can use one of these, but later on, you can assign multiple to offer an even greater boost. Custom Parts also require a free slot in order to attach – that can also be increased as you progress. These ones grant you access to certain skills (attacks) from the second you get control in a dungeon, and they also increase your chance at drawing multiple boosts when you level up or reducing the frequency at which lower-quality boosts are offered.
The Equipment crafts are the aforementioned progress-based unlocks that let you assign more than one Knack or Custom Part to your robot, they also increase your inventory and the amount of space you have in your food storage. Speaking of…
You are the only parent Toriko has, a guardian that must protect her from all the dangers such as the common cold, the Collywobbles, turning into a bird (via bird-flu), and becoming a werewolf… When you’re out exploring and gathering resources, you’re presented with a Tamagotchi-like display of your human
pet friend, showing you how hungry she is, if she wants to play, if she’s become ill, and how many poops she released inside her small air-tight enclosure! You may feel like pushing on, as it’s not too bad, but if you leave it too long then expect her to get ill or worse – die.
Some actions can be done remotely at the expense of your energy, such as washing the poop and playing with her, but anything else will require you to sacrifice yourself so the other machines throw you back into the scrap yard. In regards to energy, that’s your own survival mechanic – as you move about, it slowly drains. Once it reaches zero, you’ll begin to drain your health instead. So, you must keep yourself topped up with batteries as well as health once the enemies begin to smack you about.
As mentioned above, Toriko requires food. Luckily for you, she’ll eat pretty much anything you feed her, such as dead lizards, rotten food, and random mushrooms. Food has to be stored in your small storage area (increased with crafted Equipment) and it has an expiry date that counts down until it turns into ‘rotten food’. You also have to be mindful of how contaminated the food is as well, if you continue to feed her with poisonous food items then she’ll, once again, either get ill or die.
I’ve played a number of games based on the ‘Mystery Dungeon’ genre, yet this is the first where you have to often cut your adventures short in order to tend to something outside of the dungeon. It adds an extra level of survival and danger into the gameplay, resulting in you having to strategically decide if you should carry on or leave.
The PlayStation 5 edition of the game comes with a few bonus features which weren’t in the original PlayStation 4 version. First up, you can find and craft a number of outfits, accessories, hairstyles, bangs, and hair colours for Toriko. Yeah, these have absolutely nothing to do with the story and you can easily complete the game having not crafted any of these at all, but it’s a few new pieces of content to play around with. There are also a few new diseases that she can become infected with, requiring you to find and craft new items to cure her, and some new games to play with her such as hide and seek and tag.
Void Terrarium++ supports activity cards, well, AN activity card. As I’ve seen a few times so far, the game has a single card that tells you how far you’re through the main game and what your current objective is. For a game like this, a single card is fine as there’s no need for multiple ones due to it being very heavy on following the story. The main use you’ll find for this card is to perform a quick boot into the game from the dashboard. From a cold boot (the game isn’t open), it takes about 7-9 seconds upon clicking that card for the game to load up, load your last autosave, and place you into the game.
Sadly, that’s all I saw in terms of features – I don’t remember the lightbar being used, the adaptive triggers aren’t used, and the haptic feedback wasn’t enabled – I don’t recall any rumble throughout. But, again, based on what the game is like, I’m not disappointed with this as I cant’ see how some of those would be used anyway.
I think the biggest change between the PS4 and PS5 version has to be the size. On the PS4 it’s 1.5GB on the HDD. On the PS5, it’s 366MB! I imagine all the assets are the same, so I don’t know how they managed to shrink it so much – they must have used the new compression process. In terms of visuals, both versions look very similar, it may be a higher resolution but due to the art style, it’s very hard to tell.
Should you buy Void Terrarium++?
If you already own the game on the PlayStation 4, you’re not missing out on anything. Void Terrarium++ is not a free upgrade, and the only thing you’re really getting if you chose to buy it again is the extra clothing and diseases – which you can also buy for the Switch and PS4 as DLC. So, if you buy the DLC then your PS4 version will essentially become the same content as the PS5 version. However, if you’re like me and you simply loved the game on the PS4 and you wanted a reason to play it again (a new set of trophies), then I can’t recommend the game enough!
One of the main selling points, in my opinion, is that the physical edition of the game on the PlayStation 5 comes with the soundtrack. Not the expensive limited editions, as we usually see from NIS America, but the standard £28 version (from Base.com) includes a reversible cover and the soundtrack! Considering you can’t buy that anywhere online, and it’s not on any of the streaming platforms I checked, I’d say it’s well worth that price.
For those who have never played the game before, if you like casual roguelike games in which you gradually get better with each subsequent playthrough, then I highly recommend you try this game out. The story is very whimsical and emotional, the combat is fun and addictive, and every run-through is different from the last. If you’ve played games such as the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, or Touhou Genso Wanderer, then you’re bound to fall in love with Void Terrarium++.
50 minutes of 4K/60 footage from the PS5:
void tRrLM();++ //Void Terrarium++ is one of the best ‘Mystery Dungeon’ style games I’ve played, the visual design, music, and story are all beautiful and very memorable. Although the game begins quite difficult and frustrating, you’ll soon find yourself getting further thanks to the number of upgrades and abilities you can craft and equip. If you own it on the PS4 already, there’s nothing new awaiting you within the PS5 edition, unless you don’t own the DLC, but if you’ve not played the game – or you want the soundtrack – then I highly recommend picking up the physical copy as that comes with the OST on CD. However, a 366MB game on a 25GB Bluray is beyond overkill!
void tRrLM();++ //Void Terrarium++£34.99
- - Beautiful music and visual design
- - Over 25 hours of gameplay due to the difficulty and required replaying for resources
- - The story is emotional and cute
- - Loading times are very, very short
- - It's tiny, at 366MB, I think this is the smallest game on the PS5 that provides over 30 hours of gameplay
- - Nothing different to the PS4 version (with the DLC), yet no free or discounted upgrade option
- - It can be frustrating and repetitive due to the difficulty and the requirement to farm the same areas, but this didn't bother me
- - I would have liked more varied areas, new enemies, and maybe an alternative ending, rather than a 1:1 copy of the PS4 version