Minecraft: Story Mode simultaneously entertains and underwhelms in it’s debut episode. It’s a lot of fun and implements some interesting takes on a Minecraft story, but the plot doesn’t take off as strongly as it needs to, and some of the gameplay segments fall flat. A solid foundation for future episodes is built in The Order of the Stone, but it isn’t as strong as most may want it to be.
Minecraft: Story Mode follows Jesse (a boy or girl – you choose!) and his/her friends as they attend a convention to participate in the building competition. This quickly goes sideways as an evil plot emerges and Jesse must take on the role of hero in order to save the world.
An all-star voice cast led by Patton Oswalt (if you pick Jesse to be a guy), Ashley Johnson, Dave Fennoy and more populate Story Mode, and they all have great chemistry together. I really enjoyed each character’s personality, and I wanted to find out more about them. The only issue here is that there’s little character development in this first episode, so some of the more interesting characters like Petra and Olivia feel underused. Jesse rightfully got a lot of the spotlight, and he seems like a much more dynamic character.
The main story arch doesn’t flow as nicely as most Telltale plots. There’s definitely conflict here, but it doesn’t seem as urgent. Tonally, Minecraft: Story Mode is a little more lighthearted, but it seems to affect how much the plot moves forward – at least in this episode. When the main baddie is revealed, it just kind of slides out without any unnerving reaction I’d hope to have. Even when major events happen (I won’t spoil anything), the reaction I usually had was a shoulder shrug and then I moved on – and I don’t want that to be my reaction in a Telltale game.
Most of the actual gameplay is button prompts much like other Telltale games, but it doesn’t seem as fluid as other games like Tale from the Borderlands or Game of Thrones. Much like Minecraft’s art style, fighting is a little clunky and not as compelling as classic Minecraft’s combat. There are some fun segments where you must build items by actually placing materials on a 9×9 crafting table, which was a fun way of implementing something from Minecraft.
The game looks great, and it’s exactly like its source material. I loved the more fluid animation of character models, but Telltale still kept in some of the movement animation, like when characters talk, that really make it feel like one cohesive game made by the same company rather than it being made by Telltale.
Minecraft: Story mode often made me smile and I was certainly entertained, but there’s still a lot of potential here for something greater. Telltale has done a nice job injecting a plot into the narrative-less Minecraft, but some characters feel underdeveloped and the plot doesn’t impress around an interesting cast of characters.
If you love Minecraft, you’ll be able to look past the issues and find the diamonds held within the game, you’ll just have to mine through some dirt to get there.
This review is based on a review copy of the PC version of Minecraft: Story Mode provided by Telltale Games.
- Solid voice cast
- Fun Minecraft-y segments
- Under-developed cast
- No sense of urgency or conflict