So first thing first, I have never played Minecraft. When David and I were at PaxPrime last year TellTale Games was there with a preview of the new Minecraft: Story Mode game and my son asked me to go check it out for him. Being media, we were able to make an appointment to check it out instead of having to be in line with estimated wait times of over an hour. I instantly liked the premise of the game and thought it was cleaver for TellTale Games to jump on the Minecraft wagon.
I’m not going to lie, it took me awhile to get back into playing it as my keyboard broke and I needed to get a new one. Also finding time to play where I would not be disturbed was difficult. But I found that when I was playing first chapter I didn’t want it to be over so I saved Chapter 2 and 3 so that I could do them both at once, and it was much more fun. I have now completed Chapter 3 and will hopefully find time this weekend to complete Chapter 4.
Minecraft: Story Mode is an episodic point and click narrative driven game similar to TellTale’s previous titles such as The Walking Dead. You need to collect different items, solve puzzles, and talk to non-player characters through conversation trees to learn about the story and determine what to do next. You get to choose your avatar, I chose the female Jesse.
The game starts off with a narrative talking about the Order of the Stone which includes Gabriel the Warrior, Ellegaard the Redstone Engineer, Magnus the Rogue and Soren the Architect. The Order managed to defeat the Ender Dragon and slipped into legend.
Back in present time you (Jesse), your pet pig (Reuben), and 2 of your friends (Olivia and Axel) on your way to the Endercon Building Competition. After an altercation with The Ocelots (the rival team) your display is set on fire and Reuben runs off into the woods, you need to choose whether to stay and put out the fire or go find Reuben, I chose to go save Reuben. Once you find Reuben you are ambushed by creepers and spiders. Petra hears your cries for help and gets you away into a cave and assists you in getting a new sword (one you need to build yourself, using her supplies). Once you leave the cave you are ambushed again, this time you are on a bridge with no way out. You must decide to stay and fight or jump down into the river and get back to Endercon.
Once you are back at Endercon you assist Petra in trading a wither skull for a diamond. You go to the rendezvous point to meet Ivor to do the exchange. Once Petra hands over the skull she goes to the chest to retrieve her diamond only to find Lapis Lazuli instead. Petra and Jesse then take off to confront Ivor who sneaks away in the ground. You catch up to him just in time to see him going the big hall where you must have a ticket to gain entrance. Jesse, Petra, Olivia and Axel need to figure out how to get in; once they do (with the help Lukas who joins them) they sneak into Ivor’s secret room in the basement. You and your friends find all the items needed to create a Wither. Ivor has forced the gang back upstairs and they ask Gabriel the Warrior to assist them in foiling Ivor’s plans. But of course it is too late, Ivor has built the Wither. The Wither consumes the command block attached to its body and Ivor no longer has control over it.
As the Wither starts destroying everything and everyone in its path; Gabriel leads everyone out of the hall towards his temple. Once they make it there they find a nether portal that Jesse lights. Everyone but Petra, Gabriel and Jesse get through the portal, just as Jesse is about to go into it the Wither shows up and she stays to fight it. After saving 1 one of them Jesse retreats back to the portal and just as she is about to save them again she gets knocked back into the portal with Lukas.
Once in the Nether, you must find everyone else from the Order of the Stone to stop the Wither. You need to choose to go find Ellegaard with Olivia or Magnus with Axel. This is the end of Chapter 1. I am not going to go into detail on the other Chapters as it would make this review way too long.
The graphics in Minecraft: Story Mode is true to Minecraft fashion with the 8bit blocky-ness which you would expect with the name Minecraft. Although they seem to be a little rushed at times, it is most evident in Chapter 2 if you go to get Ellegaard. In her temple some of the items seem almost blurry, now I am not sure if this was intentional or not. But there are definitely some moments where the graphics are simply breathtaking – most noticeable in Chapter 3 when they are in Soren’s temple; I especially enjoyed the wool room.
I think the soundtrack goes well with the game, but it is not overly noticeable. However; the audio is wonderfully done. The voice actors did a magnificent job getting the emotion through that was needed to bring them to life.
The controls for Minecraft: Story Mode are not my favorite, I find they jump around a lot. You use your arrows or WSAD, mouse, as well as Q&E. I got frustrated at one point because the point of view would not let me see where I needed to see to complete the task; I shut off the game (which forced me to lose my place) and returned to it at a later point which seemed to fix the issue. I played with a controller at PaxPrime and found myself looking at the controller rather than the screen as it was unfamiliar to me. I think for the last chapter I am going to program my Razer Tartarus and see if that makes things easier.
I found that for 90% of the game you don’t need to have any knowledge of Minecraft in order to play. When you have to search for certain materials just by their picture I had to go to my kids to ask which one it was. Overall I found the game able to grab my attention but it is not something I would see myself playing again once I complete it, even to see what the other outcomes would be. My children on the other hand all want to play it. My son always compares my choices to his and tells me what would have happened if I chose the other response.
I will definitely play other Telltale Games as I love the premise of them and cannot wait to see what they bring out next.