Telltale Games has made a name for themselves by creating side stories for popular series. The biggest hit has been The Walking Dead, but they have recently also dabbled in Borderlands, Game of Thrones and most recently, Batman. The stories are engaging, true to the subject matter and have drawn in millions of fans. That said, people did not know what to think when the team announced that they would be delving into the world of Minecraft. The franchise is huge and by all normal standards it would make total sense. There was just one thing: Minecraft is the very definition of sandbox because it has no story. You pretty much do whatever you want and share it with others. For this reason, Minecraft: Story mode would be telltale’s most ambitious game to date. For the first time they would be creating the world, the characters, quite literally everything. Now that it is all said and done, the time has come to find out if it was worth the trip.
A NEW LEGEND IS BORN The story begins innocently with a group of four. Jesse (player created), Olivia, Axel and Jesse’s pig Reuben are huge fans of legendary heroes known as The Order of the Stone. They head to a local con where they get to meet Gabriel, a member of the Order. After getting mixed up with acquaintances Lukas and Petra, they discover an evil plot. Ivor, the unknown fifth member of the Order, created and unleashed a monster known as the Wither Storm. It’s destructive power was without compare and nearly destroyed everything in existence. The six unlikely heroes had to band together to save their world with help from the scattered members of the Order. The slightly odd part of the story was that the climactic battle happened in episode four.
Months passed and there was no word regarding episode five. Finally Telltale announced that along with episode five, the tale would have three additional episodes. Fans were happily confused. Minecraft: Story Mode, initially set to be a five episode series in Telltale’s catalog would now be an eight episode story. It took the Telltale title of longest individual season.
Having defeated the Wither Storm and dealt with a huge loss, the six heroes formed the new Order of the Stone. With new members, they went on countless adventures to find treasures. Unfortunately, old adversaries reared their ugly heads along with the green stain of jealousy. The Order found themselves in a different world. The final four episodes would focus on how they were to find their way home. The original adventure told one story but these four episode told four individual tales connected by the Order’s need to find their way home. It was like a movie followed by a TV miniseries – and it worked.
POINT & QUICK(TIME) If you have ever played a Telltale Games title before, you know what to expect from the gameplay. a point and click adventure with quick time events mixed in. The one difference here is that Minecraft: Story Mode wanted to stay true to its source material. To that end, each episode has at least one instance of item crafting in it. Real recipes from the original game were used but you would only proceed if you made the necessary item to further the story. Telltale attempted to switch things up, especially in the latter episodes. There were more quick time events and the reaction times grew a bit shorter. None of the QTEs were terribly hard, as they wished to appeal to the broadest age range possible. This is the first Telltale Game to not have an M rating in four years. Regardless, the challenge is there; I died more in the first three episodes than I have in the same amount of the new Batman series. Most important is that the controls are responsive. You would probably have an easier time in the searching sections with a mouse versus the Dualshock 4, but that is nothing to really complain about. Sit down with some unbuttered popcorn (don’t get the controller greasy), a cold drink and enjoy the story.
IT’S A BRICK…HOUSE! One can immediately see that Minecraft: Story Mode is not winning any awards for graphics or effects. The game is based upon Minecraft and it stays true to that source material in every way.In terms of visuals, comparing this to the original would be like comparing Grand Theft Auto V to GTA III. The resolution and detail here are much improved but you still are dealing with blocky designs based upon large pixels. Fortunately, this game is a prime example of something I say on episodes of My Take Radio all the time: graphics do not make the game. That is not to say this game has bad graphics because they are great for what they should be. Look at all of the beautiful games that have come out between 2015-2016 and Minecraft: Story Mode will probably rank near the bottom. However, within the realm of Minecraft, this series has bleeding-edge next generation graphics. Round that out with an excellent musical score and you have an experience that is enjoyable for players and viewers alike.
Minecraft: Story Mode will not appeal to everyone. I have run into several who unfortunately will not even give the game a try due to its episodic nature. That is just one of those situations of being able to lead a horse to water. For those who are open to episodes and especially point and click fans, this is a great adventure. The characters are not only likable but they are easily recognizable. The story combines fantasy, comedy and packs enough action for even more hardcore gamers to enjoy. Most of all, unlike a lot of games today, it is family-friendly; parents won’t have to put kids to bed in order to play it. Telltale Games are pick up and play; there is almost no learning curve to get the hang of and the narrative strives to grab you within the early parts of the first episode. Look past the graphics and know that Telltale has been on a winning streak with their titles for years now. This is another great game waiting for any and all to experience.
RW Review: Minecraft: Story Mode
Console: PlayStation 4 | Also Available On: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Developer: Telltale Games | Publisher: Telltale Games
Rating: E10+ | Release Date: October 25, 2016 (complete adventure)