Tuesday 27 September 2016

Minecraft Story Mode review: Block party

Minecraft: Story Mode (PS4/XOne/PS3/X360/PC/iPad); rating: 7.5/10; Age: 10+

Published 02/11/2015 | 11:52

Minecraft: Story Mode
Minecraft: Story Mode

IN much the same way that Lego has no “story”, Minecraft’s only plot is, famously, the one you supply yourself. Admittedly, there’s a half-baked quest about killing the Ender Dragon but by and large you’re left to your own devices.

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So episodic adventure specialist Telltale has mined and reshaped Mojang’s lore to its own ends in writing Story Mode, a goofy, lively yarn about a monster unleashed in Minecraft’s universe of bricks. New protagonist Jesse must work with his pals to gather five legendary heroes to save the world, yadda, yadda. In truth, the plot may not be Telltale’s finest hour but it suits the family-friendly appeal of the franchise.

Like Telltale’s other adventures (The Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us), your creativity is limited to choosing dialogue and selecting occasional story branches, a stark contrast to Minecraft’s traditionally boundless world-building. A few rare moments allow you to create a new object at a crafting table or interact briefly to construct a new building.

Chiefly, though, you’re watching cut-scenes while waiting for quicktime prompts or navigating a timed dialogue tree. It may sound limp but it’s an approach that’s worked admirably in previous narrative-heavy series from Telltale.

Minecraft: Story Mode – fight the zombies or jump off the bridge, this scene is typical of the choices you're asked to make
Minecraft: Story Mode – fight the zombies or jump off the bridge, this scene is typical of the choices you're asked to make

Here, the developer injects an infectious personality to Story Mode via enthusiastic cast performances and a set of vivid locations rendered in gloriously pixellated blocks. The voice talent includes Ashley Johnson – who played Ellie in The Last of Us – and comedian Patton Oswalt, who puts on the best show of the lot as Jesse (the male version – you can also choose a female voice).

This first episode of five may not have the depth of the likes of Walking Dead. But with plenty of in-jokes for fans and a gentle difficulty curve for younger players, it makes a decent start.

 

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