Since the announcement of Minecraft: Story Mode, people have been curious about what type of story could even make sense for the popular sandbox. While Minecraft players have been creating their own stories for years with their own imaginations and posting them on YouTube, the typical story elements found in video games are missing from the source material. These facts make Telltale Games’ choice to develop Minecraft: Story Mode all the more interesting.
Released for consoles, mobile devices, and PC, Minecraft: Story Mode is something both familiar and fascinating. Familiar in terms of bringing the Minecraft experience that people of all ages enjoy. Fascinating for taking that experience and viewing it from a different perspective. With games that take place in the worlds of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, giving us experiences that are both familiar and fascinating has become Telltale’s calling card. While those games bring us adult-oriented horror, mystery, and suspense, Minecraft: Story Mode has the potential to be enjoyable for both kids and adults alike in a way that only Disney and Pixar films have been able to do. Mere moments into Minecraft: Story Mode’s first episode, titled “Order of the Stone”, there are jokes for kids and pop-culture references for adults.
A unique aspect of Minecraft: Story Mode is that players get the opportunity to choose how their character will look, with options for gender and skin color. This is a notable departure from Telltale Games’ previous works, which usually put all players in the role of the same protagonist. In Minecraft: Story Mode, the player controls Jesse, who is voiced by Patton Oswalt or Catherine Taber depending on the gender the player chooses. Both voice actors, along with all the other voice actors in “Order of the Stone” do a great job of bringing life to the blocky frames of these characters. However, the most notable character in this first episode is Reuben, Jesse’s pet pig.
Without spoiling any elements of the story, it is important to note that Minecraft: Story Mode’s first episode begins what feels like a coming of age adventure, in the same vein as The Goonies. While this is something that players will look forward to enjoying, “Order of the Stone” is a very slow-paced episode. Usually, Telltale games thrust the player right in the middle of conflict and suspense, but most of this first episode feels like an introduction to Minecraft. The rest of the episode made up of character introductions, except for one really fun cart ride. Despite the slow-pace, Telltale does a good job of bringing in multiple scenarios, ensuring choices matter in this game. The choices players make will show them different content. This is evidenced at the end of the game, which shows statistics on what choices other players made. This alone is enough to warrant a second play-through.
Telltale continues to improve the way combat works in their games, and Minecraft: Story Mode is no exception. Dashing, dodging, and attacking with your version of Jesse feels like it would fit well within Minecraft, and also has a change in visual perspective that lets the player know when they should be prepared for a different type of button input. Subtle cues like this make the gameplay in these action sequences more user friendly. While item collection is not new for a Telltale Game, the developer brings crafting to Minecraft: Story Mode in a manner that feels faithful to the source material. More importantly, the crafting is easy for anyone to do. Players just have to listen to the dialogue in order to know what items to use and there are directions on screen that explain where to place the items in order to craft.
Visually, Minecraft: Story Mode will not amaze anyone, but the graphics are just as faithful to the source material. Players also get the opportunity to build some structures through the use of QuickTime events. While that is not as fun as crafting in your Minecraft game, Minecraft: Story Mode gives players the visuals they would expect from their beloved sandbox.
Based on the experience of Episode 1, “Order of the Stone”, the same can be said for nearly every aspect of Minecraft: Story Mode. Telltale gives fans of Minecraft what they would expect from the source material. It is that familiarity that makes Minecraft: Story Mode feel like a love letter written to Mojang’s uber-popular game. What is fascinating is that with very little foundation to build on, Telltale is building a coming of age adventure that is worth experiencing despite the fact that this episode’s story moves a bit too slowly.
Minecraft: Story Mode - Epi. 1
+ Looks and feels like Minecraft
+ Great voice acting
+ Subtle cues for action sequences
+ Reuben the Pig
– Slow moving story
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