For the past four years gamers have been taking to Youtube to tell their own narrative story for Minecraft, Youtube became home to literally hundreds of would be story tellers, each with their very own tale to tell, they chose to express their imagination through the block-building sandbox brain child of Markus ‘Notch’ Persson.
With Telltale Games making a name for themselves for producing some great episodic adventure games based on a batch of successful titles and tv shows such as The Walking Dead and Tales From The Borderlands, it would only be a matter of time before the two worlds collided and thus we have Minecraft Story Mode. Telltale Games construct their episodic adventures solely based on player choice, with the ability to create or choose your own path, with the results viewed at the end of each particular episode.
Minecraft Story Mode: Xbox One [Reviewed], Playstation 4, PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PS Vita, Android, Wii-U, iOS
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release Date: 14 October 2015
Price £4.99-5.99[Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Developer/Publisher]
Minecraft Story Mode’s first episode sets out to tell a ‘Lord Of The Rings‘ style story, beginning with a short but enthralling tale about a group of adventurers called the “Order Of The Stone”, a band of heroes with differing skills, who together, managed to take down and defeat the infamous Ender Dragon, alas saving Minecraft world. These characters, though not essentially the games main ones, are a pivotal part of the story for the introductory episode.
The games main protagonist Jesse, who depending on player choice can either be a female or male character is preparing for EnderCon, a prestigious championship that is held yearly, awarding a trophy for the best built and most innovative design in the land. As far as characters go Jesse is quite clearly presented as the epitone for Minecraft and Youtube fanatics. Used to failure despite his or her creative urge and desire to win, the games main character is joined by a group of trusted friends; Axel, a sluggish oaf of a man but loyal and dear to Jesse, Olivia, someone who always speaks the truth and doesn’t want the group to get their hopes up and Petra, a cunning mine dweller who will pick up any item for a price, there is also Jesse’s pet Pig Reuben who tags along for the adventure.
As with many of Telltale Games recent adventures, Minecraft Story Mode follows a very similar format, it’s tried and tested and has served them well down the years. QuickTime events and player choice make up the spine of the game, though most of the choices made throughout the first episode appear to lean towards supporting friends, it is a nice notion and a credible take on the iconic game. Previous games such as The Walking Dead allow players little room for mistake when taking on an enemy, with most missed buttons leading to impending death, Jesse however has wiggle room and is allowed to survive despite lack of timing in certain parts of the story, a health bar is introduced consisting of hearts – well it wouldn’t be Minecraft without them now would it?.
Though the episode is a little slow to get off out of the blocks, players are introduced to the art of dodging and knocking out blocks in a ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ esqe montage as Jesse along with his trusted Pig get in training for the event he so longs to win. The games controls are not overly complex and appear to have been dulled down a touch to accommodate a younger audience while still managing to deliver an appealing game. Jesse is viewed by many to be the “newbie” of the group, still learning about the land he loves so much, his big heart and willingness to learn and create will set the group in good sted throughout the adventure and he plays the part well, I’ve always been a huge fan of the TV Series ‘The King Of Queens’ so it was nice to hear a familiar voice in Patton Oswalt.
As I arrived at EnderCon the story opened up allowing me to meet some of the games other characters including ‘Gabriel The Warrior’, voiced by none other then Dave Fennoy, who excelled so brilliantly in his role as Lee in the first season of The Walking Dead, seriously…I can still feel the tears building up whenever I hear his voice. There are the obvious enemy encounters which of course happen during the night, Creepers, Skeleton Archers and Zombies pose a threat to Jesse’s very existence, these battles are fun little Quicktime events with often freedom to strike an enemy when the need arises.
I don’t know what this particular adventure has in store for future episodes nor will I spoil any more of the first episode, in this case it’s far better and more appropriate that the game does the talking. As far as adventure stories go, Minecraft Story Mode is a lot of fun to experience and for the few hours I got to play it, I found myself falling in love with what the game has to offer and the sheer beauty of the graphics which turn pix-elation into art. The bigger picture of the story has an obvious serious element to it, coupled with a strong story to tell. There is an equally light side to the tale with echoes of comedy, that makes the game hard not to love. Telltale have delivered a fun and engaging story that sticks to the usual rule of thumb.
As first episodes go Minecraft Story Mode shows all of the signs of previous Telltale Games success, the classic movement and dialogue of a point and click adventure with an wonderful story to experience. The freedom to craft is missing, instead forced upon players during set scenarios but at the end of the day, although this maybe Minecraft, its an episodic adventure and should be treated as such.
The characters within the game are lovable in their own way and make for a great cast, the graphics and colour that make up the game are beautiful and fitting of the name, I really felt at one with the games protagonist. Then there is the option of choice between gender and skin colour, which was pleasing to see, the gameplay is simple and fun to experience and allows for the younger generation to enjoy without too much frustration.
This might just turn out to be one of the better Telltale series but only time will tell, for now though, Minecraft Story Mode is off to a great start.