Minecraft is one of the biggest surprises of modern video games. What started out a simple block game has exploded both in popularity and complexity over the years to become one of the most dominant franchises out there. The second game in the franchise, oddly enough, turned out to be a collaboration with Telltale Games in Minecraft: Story Mode. Unfortunately the first episode doesn’t have the same pull that other first episodes have had in past Telltale Games.
As with their Borderlands game, the high point in Telltale’s adventure into Minecraft is the feeling of the game. The entire world is one hundred percent Minecraft. You can see how the environments could be built right in Minecraft, including complicated red stone structures impressive sights in the Nether. There is even an inventory system where you collect real Minecraft materials and then put them together at a crafting table to make items. It’s works incredibly well.
Style aside, Minecraft: Story Mode is classic Telltale adventure gameplay, which is handled in the exact same way here. You spend the majority of the game just watching cutscenes and hitting prompts to select your dialog choices. It’s a tried and true formula and works just as well here.
The non-dialog parts of Telltale’s Game, quick time events, are here in full force and perfectly fine. There is one particular Nether sequence that is visually and stylistically impressive that stands out above everything else. Minecraft: Story Mode also introduces a kind of “duel” mode where you pull out your sword and attack a zombie or skeleton by moving your character and attacking at will. It’s a little clunky in practice but it’s at least a change of pace from past Telltale games.
Another new thing in Minecraft: Story Mode is the ability to customize the protagonist. You can choose either a male or female character with three skins for each sex. It’s a small addition that you’ll likely hardly notice once the game gets up and going.
The real disappointment comes from the actual dialog and performances. The cast is full of talented people but something about the voice direction just feels…off. Minecraft: Story Mode is a family friendly game but that somehow results in stinted dialog and unnatural sounding conversations. Patton Oswalt does a good job as Jesse (if you choose a male protagonist) while characters like Axel (Brian Posehn) and Ivor (Paul Reubens) sound downright bad at times. The dialog itself is never funny and oftentimes feels more like a made for TV movie or after school special.
The actual story, involving the fabled Order of the Stone and it’s legendary members, is interesting and does have an epic feeling to it. A huge, world-changing event happens around the halfway point in the episode and the journey in this season to save the world should be entertaining.
Still, episode one of Minecraft: Story Mode is the weakest first episode of Telltale’s recent titles. The game needs some work to find the proper tone that can still be family friendly without being too cheesy. If they can figure that out, and if the rest of the game continues to shine, then Minecraft: Story Mode could be a great series. As sits now, it is simply something to keep your eye on.
SCORE: 7.0 out of 10
A code for Minecraft: Story Mode was provided to Pixel Related for review.