Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Minecraft: Story Mode - Review



While the original Minecraft game was all about independence, creativity and gameplay, Minecraft: Story Mode goes a completely different route and offers what is basically a touch-based point and click game (or shall we say, point and tap?). Placing narrative, writing and voice-acting over gameplay, Story Mode makes up what it lacks in speed and action with sheer atmosphere and heart.

You play Jesse, a young and adventurous crafter, who together with his/her (you can select your character's gender at the beginning of the game) friends seeks out the Order of the Stone to save the world after a monster ravages the annual "Endercon" gathering.

The majority of Minecraft: Story Mode consists of cut-scenes set in the Minecraft universe, interjected with multiple choice-based conversation trees, which dynamically affect the course of the game. Over time, the choices you make shape the attitudes of other characters forward, as well as the environment around you. It's a lot of fun to see the game world change depending on whether you decide to play the classical hero, or perhaps a more self-interested anti-hero.

Considering the relatively small scope of the game, it is exceptionally wellwritten, and all the friendly characters are very likeable from the beginning, while all the villains earn your dread straight away. Although the game is mostly made up of dialogue, it never gets boring, and will even give you a couple of good laughs along the way.

Every once in a while you will be able to directly participate in the action, but your controls are always quite limited here. Swipe to jump, tap to pull - there's really not a whole lot more than this happening in terms of gameplay, but when it does, it works.

That is, however, exactly where the game's strength lies, in its rich and colorful world and tight, dynamic narrative. It doesn't make much sense to criticize a game for a lack of gameplay when it did not actually set out to create a thorough gameplay experience to begin with. That is, after all, what the original Minecraft is for. Story Mode, instead, is exactly what its title says it is - a game where narrative comes first and action comes second.

In terms of how familiar one needs to be with the Minecraft universe in order to get the best experience out of it, not much knowledge is required. Even those who have never touched a Minecraft pickaxe before should be able to get a worthwhile experience out of the game.

Next to the level of familiarity with the Minecraft franchise, one's tolerance of the game's graphics will be another deciding factor. Indeed, Story Mode's graphics are limited to the typically cubed and pixelated characters and textures that came to define the original game. We all know what iOS is currently capable of with games like Geometry Wars 3, Modern Combat 5 and Shadowmatic, but once you accept the cubic style of the series, the game does pull off some impressive visuals, as it constructs a wonderfully vibrant world with limited resources.

Also, the voice acting is superb. A lot of effort and craft has gone into making real, dynamic characters, especially considering how limited the game is in terms of scope or graphics. The quality of the voices is on par with animated feature films, and even features a contribution from actor Patton Oswald.

The clever use of its graphics style, the entertaining cutscenes, the excellent voice acting and the thrilling score result in a very lively and cinematic gaming experience. Yes, Minecraft: Story Mode is more of a movie than a game, and yes, it does take place in a very specific world with a very specific visual style, but once you accept these things - you're in for a treat.

The game is available for $4.99 (£3.99). Unfortunately, it is not clearly stated in advance that this will only get you through the first chapter of the series - additional chapters are set to follow and can be purchased at individual or bundle prices. While the first chapter does give you a couple of good hours of consistent gameplay, a little more transparency here could have prevented some disappointment, a matter echoed by other customers.


Verdict

I would highly recommend Minecraft: Story Mode to any fan of the original game. Full of the wonder and vibrancy of the original series, the game takes the player on an adventure through the Minecraft mythology, which is a very rewarding experience. To those unfamiliar with the Minecraft universe, whether or not you love this game will depend on your personal preference. If you want a game with quick and snappy action, then this might not be the one for you. If you're looking for a detailed, narrative-based game that puts story before gameplay, then you should definitely give Minecraft: Story Mode a try.

overall score

90  %


Specifications

Price US/UK: $4.99/£3.99
Version Number: 1.1
File size: 685MB
Category: Games
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Telltale Games

By PCmatter

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