You wont have a Terra-ble time with Terra Tech.

Title: Terra Tech
Platform: PC
Developer: Payload Studios
Publisher: Payload Studios
Price: £15/$20
Release date: Available now via early access.
TL;DR: A sandbox construction and combat adventure.
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

You may have come across Payload Studios’ Terra Tech on your travels through the library of Steam games, or via one of the many tempting Steam sales. Terra Tech has been with us a few years now, hovering around in the “Early Access,” bracket whilst it goes through a lengthy development period. With very positive reviews on Steam, Terra Tech is constantly adding new features and sorting out any bugs that might arise from the content updates.

The premise of the game is that you are an off-world prospector searching for valuable materials to send back to Earth, as all the natural resources have been spent on the home planet. Set in a very distant future, your rocket crashes on one of these alien planets, and the adventure begins.

Terra Tech has a few different game modes, including Campaign (Complete Quests), Creative (Build what you like), Sumo (Push your opponents out of the ring), and Gauntlet (Racing your creations), with an optional Research & Development mode (Play and test with the latest blocks) if you purchase the DLC or Deluxe version. A beta mode for multiplayer is also playable, where you can PVP online against other constructions in timed battles.

Diving into the campaign mode, you are greeted with a little intro and then straight into some quests that also operate as tutorials. I thought the quests did a great job of introducing you to the controls and functionality of the new blocks and technology that you were accruing, as I was able to smoothly transition what I had learnt and apply that to my new creations. It didn’t take long before I was driving around in my vehicle, farming resources and sending those resources into space via a cannon, in exchange for some in-game currency. When the money starts flowing in, you’re able to purchase blocks that you have already researched, which helps to give you enough parts to construct your base and vehicles more rapidly.

As you drive around the colourful world, you start to encounter some big robots that offer you new technology trees and enable you to craft different types of vehicles. Completing a small task for them unlocks the starting level, and then you can earn experience when you complete missions and kill enemies that also roam the land. Levelling up the tech trees unlocks new blocks for you to purchase.

There are a day and night cycle in Terra Tech, which mainly affects how you can generate power to charge your batteries or maintain shields and repair points actively at your base, and on your vehicle. Not having shields available leaves your base open to attack from enemy drones, and it’s quite disheartening when you have to scavenge replacement parts to reconstruct your base.

When creating vehicles, you must be somewhat tactical in your designs. For example, you’ll need to be taking into account how big and heavy they are, as slower creations will find it harder to turn to face enemies in battle. This alone can be the fact that determines victory, but what’s great about Terra Tech is all the other factors you must consider. Size of wheels determines how heavy the vehicle can be, and how much it can carry in resources; the number of wheels can increase or decrease the speed of the vehicle, and do you want to collect resources or be the ultimate battle chariot?

Once your inventory of parts and tech starts to grow, you can choose different types of weapons and where to place them on your vehicle, what type of wheels you will use for traversing terrain and carrying different weight loads, and most importantly shields, repair modules, and battery power. This provides the time-sync in Terra Tech, collecting new parts and experimenting with them is fun. Early game, shields are a pain in the butt as you have to constantly recharge your batteries to power them, which means manually disconnecting them from your vehicle and attaching them to a charging source. Night-time negates using the solar charger, so then it’s up to a fuel furnace.

Once you have a good starting point, the game turns into an exploration affair, searching for more enemies and their bases, so that you may acquire better and better technology and parts; different biomes offer different challenges and types of enemies. But you must always be wary, for if you get destroyed, you lose your vehicle and its parts unless you have enough money available to purchase your vehicle back when respawning into the world.

I can’t really think of anything I dislike about Terra Tech; I had a lot of fun and spent far too many hours constructing different types of vehicles and elaborate bases. This game feels like a playable version of Lego Technics with combat. Only my imagination and some basic laws of physics held me back from creating whatever I wanted. The creative mode was more akin to Minecraft, with all blocks available complete with coloured blocks, so that you can make whatever you want.

I let my young son have a go, and he became addicted very quickly and was creating all sorts of weird and wonderful things in next to no time. With that kind of intuitive family-friendly gameplay, I heartily recommend this game, even if it still is in Early Access. It just begs the question of what else they are going to add to Terra Tech in the future before it sees a full release.

The Good

  • Intuitive gameplay
  • Lots of fun
  • Endless scope for creativity

The Bad

  • Can sometimes be repetitive
  • Charging batteries can be a pain
  • Shields and Repair modules not lasting long enough

Family Focus

ESRB: No Rating as of this review. and PEGI: (7) Ages 7 and over. A very family friendly game suitable for all.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.