Minecraft Story Mode Review
by Mina Sanwald
If you had to choose, would you rather fight one hundred chicken-sized zombies or ten zombie-sized chickens? I’m serious! I would have to go with ten zombie sized-chickens. Think of all that delicious chicken meat you would get out of it; granted the chickens aren’t also rotting out like the zombies! but I digress. These are the kind of deep questions you can expect to answer in Telltale’s new episodic adventure, “Minecraft Story Mode”.
For those familiar with Telltale and their unique ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ take on gaming, you will feel right at home with this new franchise. And all of you who are familiar with the original Minecraft, will enjoy learning the lore of the world as your adventure unfolds. Like, seriously, we as a gaming community have sunk hours, upon hours, upon hours into the original game to just build and create crap. I built a giant tower shaped like a cat, JUST BECAUSE I COULD. It’s nice to learn that this world we have spent so much time residing in does in fact has a really cool backstory and overworld mythos. Also, all that crap you built in sandbox mode, it’s still totally canon. Awesome!
You can’t have a good story mode without a stellar cast of characters to propel it forward. Each character in this game brings something fun to the table. That isn’t to say there isn’t any friction among the core group; Just don’t expect anything as drastic as, “The Walking Dead”. It wouldn’t be a Telltale game without a tiny bit of drama and human emotion sprinkled into the mix.
One thing I love about story mode is that the protagonist, Jesse, can be either gender and one of three skin tone shades. I mean, it’s no, “Mass Effect” character creator but it does add an unexpected personal experience to the game. This is a first for Telltale. In their previous games, we only tag along with the protagonist. Sure, we made choices for them, and yes, I felt a real human connection to each one. Heck, I cried for Bigby at the end, “The Wolf Among Us” episode one, but it was never, “my” story. By adding Jesse’s gender and skin tone as options, it adds a new level of immersion. I feel “Minecraft Story Mode” is able to stay true to the original player crafted world. You are Jesse, as I am Jesse. Your Jesse is different from my Jesse. See what I mean about those deep thought provoking questions now?
Our team of deuteragonists are also a lot of fun. We have Jesse’s bestie, Olivia, an intelligent and quizzical woman often unsure of herself. Axel, the big guy with a lot of passion for the few friends he has. Petra, the kick-ass Collector/Warrior/Nether adventurer who fears literally nothing; I mean this woman leaps off an exploding cliff and brushes it off like it was a trip down the apples and pears. Lucas, the Jerk who is really not that jerky, but is kinda cute when he is being nice. I mean, For a guy made of boxes. And finally Reuben, Jesse’s pet pig/wingman who has a penchant for getting into trouble. There are way more characters than that, but I think you understand what I mean when I say, “colorful”!
Telltale had a pretty open slate when it came to telling the story of Minecraft. That isn’t to say they didn’t need to meet really high expectations. The base synopsis of the story is this: Many years ago there was an Enderdragon that ravaged the land. Four mighty heroes, who were all masters of their trade banded together and defeated the dragon, thus bringing peace to the world of Minecraft. Now fast forward a couple of years and we meet our wonderful cast of characters… and an evil giant, Wither, who is consuming and killing the Overworld of Minecraft. It is the job of our merry band of crafters to find the four legendary heroes and put an end to the blackhole that is Wither! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
In the realm of gameplay, not much has really evolved from the Telltale signature style. This is a point and click adventure, meaning you will explore the world and collect items and information my clicking on them. Story mode relies heavily on the dialog to push the story forward; which is where the, “choose your own adventure” element comes in. Like the conversation wheel in Mass Effect, Jesse is given a set of dialog options that he/she can use to change and progress the story. This also helps in carving out the type of character Jesse is. Is your Jesse a jerk? One added feature to story mode not present in other telltale games the existence of crafting tables. I mean, it is Minecraft after all! Using the tables, you are able to craft items that can get you out of a jam. It still feels really guided, but I’m interested to see just how many options for crafting will open up in later episodes.
Even though the Telltale formula hasn’t really been changed, it doesn’t mean it’s been perfected. A lot of the same issues still come up in this adventure as did in previous titles. I’m talking about lagging load times that can sometime crash the game. This is true on multiple platforms. I have tried this game out on my PS4, PS3 as well as my Mac. My PS3 wouldn’t even load the game; it crashed my whole system! Another issue I have encountered is excessive lag with the mouse controls. Because this is point-and-click, the directionals feel really clunky when ever the camera changes. I can’t help but feel tank controls would do this game a world of good. (I know, you all hate tank controls, but there is a reason they exist!) For once I’m going to say the transition to quick time events is too smooth. Half of the time I wasn’t even ready to react; but that could just be a “me” problem. Despite those issues, I think this is probably the smoothest Telltale game to date.
I really enjoyed the first episode of this new chapter in Minecraft. I mean sure, I can’t visit my giant cat-tower, (Tour Da Chat), in the Overworld like I can in sandbox mode, But I am really excited to see what happens! Will The Wither eat everything in the world like The Nothing did to Fantastica in “The Never Ending Story”? Where are the four legendary heroes of old during this time of crisis? Jesse and his/her merry band of losers have a huge quest ahead of them across two dimensions, and maybe even the third dimension, ‘The End’. The world of Minecraft is replete with story possibilities that, I imagine, Telltale will touch upon in one way or another. I have a lot of questions I’m sure will be answered in the upcoming episodes, but first, I’m still curious, Chicken sized zombies or zombie size chickens?
The Minecraft Story Mode Season pass, which includes all episodes, is available for $29.99 on most major gaming platforms.
For more information on Telltale Games, visit the official website, Facebook, and follow .@TelltaleGames on Twitter.
For more information on Mojang, visit the official website, follow .@Mojang and @Minecraft on Twitter, and like Minecraft on Facebook
This magical girl/crazy cat lady is none other than, Mina, The New York based Illustrator and Let’s Player. Her magical super power is excelling at creating artwork that is way too saturated for the human eye and getting lost on small maps in scary games. She also has a pension for falling in love with anime and video game characters right before their untimely death. You can follow Mina’s misadventures every Friday on her Youtube series, “D8 Night” or in any of these other crazy locations: