I don’t know about you, dear readers, but Minecraft has always been one of those games that no matter how long it’s been since you’ve played it, and how many mods you have to reinstall, you know something is going to drag you back into it eventually. Luckily, it’s not such a terrible game that you’d regret that. Undeniably, it’s a very simple game that managed to get an entire generation of gamers to unleash their inner creativity, whether that meant building a scale model of Minas Tirith or simply building giant golden dick statues as far as the eye can see. You had an entire world to shape, sculpt and explore however you pleased, and the bounds to your imagination were endless. Literally, the only part where a line had to be drawn was the story of the base game. You remember that, right? When Mojang finally put down their pickaxes and gave us an ending to the sandbox everyone loved so dearly? That god awful 9 and a half minutes of tedium we had to sit through after beating the Ender Dragon? Yeah, storytelling never was Mojang’s strong suit. However, thankfully, we have Telltale to make up for it!
In the much awaited release of Minecraft: Story Mode we’re being taken on an adventure through the Minecraft world that we never got in the original game, though definitely not the one you’re expecting. You play as one of 6 personalised characters, all named Jesse, who after losing their pet pig at this years Endercon, manages to stumble their way into an epic quest to save the world and become a brave, noble hero. Travel and fight alongside your two friends Axel and Olivia in a race against time to find the legendary ‘Order of The Stone’ in the hopes that these brave heroes can help you save the world from a terrifying Wither Storm that has just been unleashed.
Now, it should be said that if you were looking for a serious, emotional story, you’re better off checking out some of Telltale’s other games as Minecraft: Story Mode is very much tongue-in-cheek. That’s not to say there’s no emotion to be found, this is still Telltale we’re talking about after all, but Minecraft: Story Mode is a game that’s delightful in the fact it doesn’t take itself seriously. For example, the introduction sequence has you doing an epic 80’s training montage wherein your pig spots you for push ups and you have to improve your tree punching skills in order to win the big building competition. It’s absurd, but honestly charming and fitting for the universe.
As for the characters we encounter, it’s honestly a little too early to tell. I’ve bonded to my little piggy Reuben pretty much since the second they put him on screen. Honestly, if they do anything to hurt that little adorable blocky snout, I swear to exact revenge! But as for the rest of the cast they could either be genuinely endearing companions or simply annoying obstacles. For example, there’s a spot in the game where you have to save 1 of 2 characters, while another one looks on, too scared to move. Should that character show some growth as we get to know him, I’ll give him a big ol’ blocky hug when it’s all said and done, but there’s always a risk that he’ll just be a complication without any pay off. It’s a small risk, given that it’s Telltale and they rarely put in a character without any merit, but everyone’s bound for a stinker some day. What’s more there seems to be a strong emphasis on “Do you choose your lifelong friends, or the epic heroes?” and honestly, I do not have anywhere near enough emotional attachment to make that a problem right now. Sure, maybe later on I’ll learn that my friends are the diamonds hidden deep in the stone of the story, but right now I’m just picking whoever has the goddamn swords in a crisis. Ain’t no way I’m killing that Wither with friendship!
It should also be noted, that if you’re a Minecraft die-hard, and you’re worried about what a new company will do to your beloved franchise, you need not worry. Telltale have actually done a fairly good job of integrating the crafting system into the gameplay in clever little ways. For example, you get stuck in a trap near the middle of the episode, which requires you to craft something out of sticks, string, flint and feathers, in order to trip a pressure pad across the room. For anyone who has played Minecraft before, that recipe screams ‘bow and arrow’, but it could also mean ‘fishing rod’, which was my choice. It’s entirely possible that I’ll live to regret not taking the bow when all I have to defend myself is the fishing rod, but that’s the beauty of it, the choice is entirely up to you and your choices could either help or entirely hinder your progress, and you’ll just have to use your wits to get around it. The only thing I would say about the integration between Minecraft and Story Mode is that Telltale is hitting the nail very much on the head for the sake of new players. If you’ve never played Minecraft before, recipes will be explained to you, but if you know what you’re talking about it becomes very obvious what’s going to happen and your character, Jesse, just starts to seem like a moron for not realising sooner. That said, it’s episode one, I’ll forgive the hand holding for now!
All in all, I’ll give Minecraft: Story Mode a diamond rating on the first episode. If you’re a fan of the original game, or just a fan of Telltale in general, you should definitely pick this up and give it a go.
A charming, witty and loveable little adventure.
You can get Minecraft: Story Mode, Episode 1 – Order of The Stone right now on Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U, or purchase it directly from the TTG website.