There were a lot of great games that came out in 2011. Whilst the majority of my gaming time was taken up with WoW, Star Wars: The Old Republic stole that crown for the month of December and seems like it will make huge demands of my time in 2012.
I also have a stack of games to play including Skyrim and Arkham City but I think the game of last year has to go to a little indie game called Terraria.

On first looking at it it’s easy to discount this game. The graphics look like they are something out of the 90s; it’s all 2D. Then when you look into what you have to do in the game, you’ll see mention of mining and building and think “Oh, Minecraft!”
At its most basic, Terraria is a mining game. You dig through the map, find different resources and use them to build your own super-lair. Nothing wrong with that. The world contains several different biomes (environments) each with its own set of resources (Jungle, desert, dungeon, corruption, hell) and monsters. Some biomes are more difficult than others, and so the idea is to work your way through them gaining better armor and weapons so you can progress to the next.
But just like your favourite platformers, there are mini-bosses. These are unlocked in specific ways (you won’t just run into them), and killing them unlocks further things (Hardmode, access to the dungeon, etc.). What’s great is that there’s no real pressure to level up. I’ve played this game for 61 hours according to Steam and yet I’ve only taken down a couple of bosses (this is because I am too busy creating Castle Adrian).
As you progress you also unlock NPCs. You’ll need to build accommodation for them in your lair and they will sell you various items that help progress you through the game.
However, it is the multiplayer where this game really shines. PvP is possible although I’ve not tried it. Instead, we’ve had 4 of us, go kill bosses, mine in hard-to-reach areas and laugh hysterically when another dies.
With grappling claws, rocket boots and lightsabres, both mining and fighting are a lot of fun. There’s also a lot of creativity as you build your own castle of awesomeness, either in isolation or as a group effort. In our shared game I spent a lot of time building the hellevator (basically a straight drop right down into the hell biome) and the glass elevator (enabling us to access some of the floating sky islands). I’ll admit that these concepts were stolen from watching the hilarious Jesse Cox and TotalBiscuit videos on Youtube.
What’s surprising is how sophisticated some of the mechanics are. One of the more advanced NPCs will sell you wire cutters through which you can rig all manners of cool contraptions. It’s possible to have light switches, or pressure plates that open doors as you approach, and whilst I wasn’t the member of our group that built those, I was assured they are really, really easy to build.
At £6, this game is a steal, and Steam often does offers where it’s available for as little as £1.50. I highly recommend it, a perfect chill out game that you will lose hours to.