Many games out there are attempting to take the super popular Minecraft formula and inflect their own spin. Block Story feels a lot like Notch’s vast open world game, with a bunch of layered in RPG elements to create a title that feels familiar yet distinct.
Block Story, through and through, looks and feels very similar to Minecraft. The environment is made out of blocks that you can chip away with your hands or a pick axe. While the world is made of giant blocks, all people and creatures are actual 3D models. It perhaps loses the blocky “charm” but it makes Block Story feel unique.
One immediately noticeable addition for Block Story is the large, floating islands dotting the sky. The Forgotten Skies, as they are referred to in game, add a more magical atmosphere fitting with the theme of the game as well as making Block Story a more vertical adventure. You can access these islands through a built in flight mechanic, which runs off of your mana.
Everything can be mined and each material has a use for crafting. Crafting works exactly the same as in other crafting games, where you lay out base components on a three by three grid in order to make items such as axes, glass, wood planks, etc. In the beginning it’s all straightforward stuff but as you progress you can start to make swords, armor and magical items that fit perfectly in an RPG.
Obviously the biggest gameplay aspect that Block Story hopes to bring to the crafting genre is an RPG mechanic. There are several NPCs that spawn throughout the world who will give you various quests to accomplish. These are usually pretty basic, MMO type quests such as “Collect 30 Wood” or “Kill 20 Sharks” and, given the open nature of the game, there isn’t much direction beyond that.
Unfortunately at this point in the game the actual combat mechanics are pretty poor and unexciting. Weapons are slow and do little damage, making even the smallest enemies (like spiders and frogs) time-consuming to kill. Also, monsters spawn at a high rate, which led to several times where I killed a monster only to be stabbed in the back and killed by another that had just spawned.
There are other aspects of the game that reveal this is still an early access game. The world looks nice and the lighting is great – especially the cool effect of each different type of precious ore giving off a unique color – but the actual textures of the blocks and the animation that shows as you break a block look quite ugly. Water also play a weird role as there are no physics applied to it, so you will often find water floating in the sky (magic?) or areas where water should clearly be flowing, but it doesn’t.
Block Story is a game that, similar to a lot of early access games, shows a lot of promise. With helpful feedback from users and continued support and development the final product has a good chance at offering a nice, unique experience from the traditional Minecraft clone. You can check it out right now on Steam Early Access for $9.99.
A code for Block Story was provided to Pixel Related for this preview.