Some games fit easily into genre formulas. Super Mario games are platformers, Streets of Rage is a scrolling beat-‘em-up series, Command & Conquer is an RTS. Teratopia isn’t so easy to categorise. Parts of all of these genres come into play, often simultaneously. If nothing else, you can say it’s a unique blend of well established ideas.
Despite this blend of gaming mechanics, Teratopia isn’t an overly complicated game. But not every game has to be. Some games are still able to be light-hearted fun. Teratopia isn’t going to outpace Immortals: Fenyx Rising or revolutionise any of genre formulas it so heavily borrows from, but it certainly is entertaining enough.
The completely inconsequential storyline sees a utopia of three different coloured alien races invaded by a fourth; the obviously evil red guys. It’s your job to send the reds packing in the most efficient way possible: beating them all up. You’ll progress through the levels throwing your fists and dodging attacks, levelling-up and unlocking new abilities as you go.
This is all simple enough, but with the added minion mechanic it becomes a little more interesting. As you progress you can unlock several different types of minions, beginning with close combat and ranged basics, and drop them into battle to assist you with the fighting. At the start of the game it seems like a nice touch but offers little to the gameplay. However, upon reaching the later levels they become essential to take down the larger bosses. Progress even further and you can cause utter chaos by summoning up to 50 of them to the battlefield simultaneously.
And this is where Teratopia begins to shine; once the first playthrough is reaching an end you’re actively encouraged to retread old ground. Passing through what initially seemed to be pretty basic levels and finding secret paths, buying your way into new areas with the many eyeballs you’ve collected from your fallen adversaries. Some levels even have multiple paths – and thus multiple different boss fights – for you to uncover.
The aesthetic of Teratopia is pleasant enough. Colourful and somewhat tongue-in-cheek it it’s minimal dialogue, it’s not enough to pull you through the game by itself but also not so abrasive as to make you skip it. Given the family-friendly appearance (aside from the somewhat out of place blood splatters) and the reasonably simplistic nature of the gameplay, it’s actually somewhat disappointing to note that developer Ravegan didn’t see fit to include local co-op gameplay even for just two players.
Teratopia is a fun distraction from all those big games. Something to sit on the sideline until you’ve got frustrated with a difficult mission or when you’ve only got an hour to play and you know moving onto that next area will take an entire evening. It’s enjoyable yet also forgettable, making it a perfect supporting actor to whatever your lead might be right now.