Review – void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium

Besides being a bizarre and borderline unpronounceable name that Elon Musk would totally give to one of his future offspring, void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium is the latest Switch release by one of the most fruitful Japanese companies out there, NIS America. But let’s just call it Void Terrarium from now on. The weird name and vague description on its eShop page don’t explain properly what it’s all about, but fear not dear viewer, that’s what I’m here for.


Yes, you can pet the human in Void Terrarium.

Void Terrarium starts off in a deceiving way. You first take control of a small mouse in the middle of a scrapyard. You venture your way through a linear hallway until you find the remains of a small Wall-E-esque robot. The mouse starts interacting with the downed robot until it enters its head, reboots it… and is fried as a result. From now on until the rest of the game, you play as this small robot, nicknamed Robbit, by a nearby depressed supercomputer. One that makes Marvin the Paranoid Android look like a joyful hippie in comparison.

To their shock, both Robbie and the computer will eventually find a human underneath a pile of fungi. In this post-apocalyptic world, humanity has been wiped out by a combination of a deadly fungal epidemic (hm, what a familiar event) and machines deciding that the best solution for the survival of Earth is the complete erridication of the homo sapiens species. The two robotic characters decide to take care of the poor, defenseless thing, naming her Toriko and taking care of her like a mixture between their pet and their daughter.


Exploring dungeons all while paying attention whether your pet human needs to have her poop cleaned or not.

The computer will constantly ask for Robbie to create new items to make Toriko’s life easier. Things like medicine, food recipes, or structures to improve the overall quality of her “terrarium”, which acts both as her living quarters and your main hub. In order to gather these items, you’ll need to venture through the ruins of human civilization. That’s when the game shifts from a side-scrolling narrative-driven adventure to a more traditional dungeon crawler. This is when Void Terrarium‘s gameplay truly begins.

The dungeon crawling aspect is pretty straightforward. If you’ve played NIS America’s previous Shiren the Wanderer-inspired dungeon crawlers, such as Touhou Genso Wanderer, you already known what to expect. Walk in some repetitive-looking, grid-shaped dungeons, with each movement acting like a micro-turn in an RPG, pay attention to your health and energy, defeat enemies, collect items, venture through multiple floors, fight an occasional bigger enemy, find the MacGuffin you’re looking for, then proceed to the exit. Nothing out of the ordinary, but that’s equally a good and a bad thing.


This robot is a ray of positivity…

The good thing is that the game is easy to grasp, despite the somewhat stiff controls that feature a noticeable amount of input lag. You explore, grab items, and mash the A button whenever there’s an enemy in front of you. You can also perform special attacks, but they consume a ton of energy, meaning that you’re better off getting rid of opponents by attacking them with melee and throwing an occasional grenade you can find throughout the dungeons. This simplistic gameplay loop is actually a perfect fit for a portable system, as it encourages short, “pick up and play” bursts.

The bad thing is that Void Terrarium is riddled with inconveniences meant to frustrate the player in every conceivable way. The randomly generated nature of its dungeons means that your chances to complete a section or not depends less on your ability as a player and more on the amount of traps and enemies that will be thrown at you, all while hoping for the RNG gods to bless you with items and level-up perks that don’t actually suck. If you die, you lose all of your items, with the exception of story-focused key items and food for Toriko, as well as all of your experience points, meaning that the game basically forces you to persevere by beating a dungeon in one run, even though each new dungeon features a drastically noticeable difficulty spike when compared to the last one.

You will constantly feel frustrated with the fact that Void Terrarium‘s dungeons are more inconvenient than they are challenging. You will occasionally get irritated with the little Tamagotchi-esque monitor on the bottom left corner of the screen beeping like crazy because Toriko either needs food or needs for her terrarium to be cleaned up. Yet, whenever you go back to the main hub and interact with that poor little thing, all while being accompanied by gorgeous hand-drawn visuals and beautiful melodies, you feel an urge to protect her and do whatever you can to ensure her survival. You will feel encouraged to explore “just one more dungeon” in order to find a new item or more food for her.


If you find one of these shielded enemies, wait for them to engage their defensive special attack, then attack their backs.

Void Terrarium is very flawed and riddled with very questionable difficulty spike decisions, but it also features some strong redeeming qualities. For every dungeon crawling run that results in an unfair death, you will be sent back to the main hub, interact with that poor little girl, and feel a near-maternal urge to try your luck yet again in order to find items that will help her survive in this beautiful yet hostile world. It succeeds at immersing you into its setting, even though its gameplay does everything it can to make you rage quit as soon as possible.


Graphics: 7.5

The dungeons don’t look that impressive, but character models, especially when you’re back at the terrarium, are jaw-droppingly adorable.

Gameplay: 6.5

Your average dungeon crawler experience, with some slight input delays and a ton of unfair hindrances causing some unfair difficulty curves during your entire playthrough.

Sound: 8.5

Whether you’re exploring a dungeon or you’re just chilling at the terrarium, there will always be a beautiful soundtrack accompanying you.

Fun Factor: 6.5

It’s a borderline frustrating dungeon crawler, since it loves to throw traps and hordes of enemies at you, while barely giving you upgrades in between runs. At the same time, the story is captivating, and you really feel a connection with the human survivor you need to take care of.

Final Verdict: 7.0

void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium is available now on PS4 and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium was provided by the publisher.