Bugs – everyone’s worst nightmare. Whether crawling on your ceiling, or around your game’s logic – no one likes to find a bug. The more there are, the worst it is; that’s a fact. But – what if a game is all about bugs? Does this somehow make them non-existent? Or is the game really just a buggy mess, using comedy to disguise how broken it is? tERRORbane is one of many games those main gimmick is being buggy. Lucky for it, I love such games, and was ready to greet with open arms a turn-based RPG that is a buggy mess.
What looks like the beginning of a generic RPG is soon interrupted by the game’s developer. “What’s this?” – you wonder. Then he begins talking, saying how he created one of the best and most perfect games you’re ever going to play. Well, we know what to do – what any self-respecting gamer does upon hearing that phrase. To break the game, finding every possible bug to prove the developer wrong. Then he gives us some paper to write down everything we love about the game. We’ll call it our bug list.
After this little introduction, he lets us start the actual game. But, if you thought this was the last we’d see of our developer friend – you are dead wrong. He’ll come back more times than bugs in a Fallout game. What awaits us next, however, is anything but generic: with bugs galore, weird glitches and the developer who won’t leave us alone. It may sound annoyingly bad, but it really isn’t – if you love a self-aware game full of comedy gold.
When I say “turn-based RPG” there’s this expectation of two things: epic story and deep mechanics. tERRORbane has none of those; well, it does in a sense, but not how you’d imagine. Looking at the screenshots, you may think it’s some run-of-the-mill RPG Maker project. It, however, plays nothing like that. In fact, the gameplay is more akin to if Wario Ware and a generic turn-based RPG had a baby.
It’s a weird combination and – this may not even be a turn-based game. What? A non-turn-based game on Turn-Based Lovers? Yes and no. There are turn-based elements, although technically I haven’t done any turn-based battles. There is combat and random encounters – but their outcome is determined not by skill, but by where the player is in the game. So, if I must put a genre on it – it’d be a turn-based micro game.
For instance, tERRORbane is divided into segments, each with its own gameplay style. One is basic turn-based where you can make minor decisions in battle like attacking or using an ability. That’s all it would amount to. The enemies mostly die after your turn (yes, even scanning killed them). If they somehow survive – they kill you in one hit. Instant death becomes even more prominent in the reboot segment, when I had to play minigames to win battles. Anyway, don’t expect some complex combat system – or you’ll be severely disappointed.
Check it once, Check it Twice
The reboot and the tERRORbane sections make up most of the game. These were also where I had the most fun, being the closest players will get to a turn-based world. There’s a small realm to explore, some weird random battles to fight. What makes those sections better than the other two is how much freedom there is to find bugs. However, figuring out exactly where to find those bugs isn’t that straightforward. The list, which I’d constantly check, would tell you their number – but not what they are.
Overall, finding bugs fell into two camps. Some were story-related and are discovered simply by playing. Then there were those which I had to go out of my way to encounter. As I mentioned, tERRORbane divides into sections. However, there are also three subsections within each – except the last, which only had two subsections. Players start in the first, the main subsection. Then, depending on which specific bugs they’ll find, it can offshoot to other subsections. Each of these, naturally, comes with its own set of bugs.
To give you a sense of how this works: the first segment’s offshoot is – skipping the main cutscene. This, of course, leads to the developer appearing and telling off the player for skipping it. If we are to skip another cutscene, we again get to see the even more annoyed developer. If we do it anyway, ignoring him, a subsection unlocks: where the developer forces us to read a corrupted version of the starting cutscene.
After the player finds enough bugs in every checklist, they get to see the main ending – which I won’t spoil. I will say, however, that it deviates – even more than usual – from the main game. Not like this wasn’t to be expected. Still, for me, it was so out of left field – but also fit so well with everything else the developer set up.
In the end, I can honestly say, I loved every moment of tERRORbane. The adventure was hilarious and fun, with so many great references for any RPG fan. While there were some parts I didn’t enjoy – like the micro minigames for the reboot battles and the ending – the journey itself I enjoyed greatly. As long as players keep in mind that it’s a comedy – and don’t expect from the game to be what it is not – there’s a lot to like here. Overall, tERRORbane is great gaming comedy at its best.
tERRORbane is available now on PC and Switch. A review code was provided by the publisher.