Review: Minecraft: Story Mode - Episode 1 (PlayStation 4)

Minecraft: Story Mode - Episode 1: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation 4 3,736 views 4 likes 20 comments
Reviewed by Austin Trujillo, posted Oct 14, 2015, last updated Oct 14, 2015
Oct 14, 2015
  • Release Date (NA): October 13, 2015
  • Release Date (EU): October 13, 2015
  • Release Date (JP): October 13, 2015
  • Publisher: Telltale Games
  • Developer: Telltale Games
  • Genres: point and click
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone
  • PEGI Rating: Three years and older
  • Also For: Android, Computer, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
What happens when you take one of the biggest open sandbox games in the world, and throw a narrative spin on it? Some surprisingly good things actually!
Austin Trujillo

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I've been a pretty big purveyor of Telltale Games since the first Walking Dead game, and I think so far they have yet to make a misstep in any game they have taken a stab at. Minecraft Story mode is no exception to that theory either.

Beginning a blocky adventure 

To start off, Minecraft Story Mode lets you play as a character model of your choosing, named Jesse to remain gender neutral.

As far as story goes it’s actually a much more comical tale than anything telltale has previously made. You won’t find a lot of gritty choices or complex alternatives in this title, yet there are choices made with multiple outcomes that can still be beneficial or harm you in the end. It remains engaging enough to be the perfect entry for kids or families to have a blast, and it has so much of the Minecraft charm and stays so true to its mechanics that any fan will be delighted to play it.

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Jesse and her friends are simple builders trying to win the competition and the right to go to Endercon to meet a fabled hero of old, Gabriel the Warrior. There’s a lot of Minecraft elements that keep themselves at play here, from actual crafting recipes to mashing the x button to break or place blocks in rapid fashion.

Story mode pays attention to everything that would fit within its world, both in a comical style and a serious setting. From dressing up your pet pig as an EnderDragon, to the threat of someone creating a terrible monster with forbidden materials, Telltale made sure the attention to source material was perfect.

Craft, Choose, Survive

Along the way the fear of night still lingers for everyone, as even the most hostile monsters will show their ugly faces. Creepers will haunt you, zombies may attack, and spiders will lurk in every shadow. The story paces itself in a way that would let you encounter these monsters in their natural setting, and doesn't try to shoehorn them into the narrative in any way. You’ll still explore caves and meet hostility if you make choices that didn’t prepare you.

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The telltale formula stays the same as far as gameplay goes, with some little Minecraft embellishments made here and there. Quick-Time-Events, point-and-click, and exploration all progress your story. All of these things still remain a little clunky, mostly when the point and click combat makes it way into the game again. The sluggish sensitivity of the cursor and the choppy movements made things a bit difficult in dicey situations, something I've always complained about when it comes to Telltale games. 

The overall characterization of your friends and yourself in the game are pretty laughable. You can absolutely see how the game is geared towards a younger audience, which doesn't make it a bad thing. No gritty language or salty-tonged quips, but instead a lot of Disney channel styled remarks like, “Too cool for school.”

That’s not to say there isn't subtle comedy for everyone. It really feels like Telltale wanted to make the story engaging to any audience that played it. And threats still exist in every telltale fashion. You can still die, you can still make choices that can devastate your story, the threat of loss still exists, and the overall fate of the world still lies in your hands.

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My only complaints of the first episode were the length and pacing of how long it took for things to happen, and how abruptly they ended. The first episode took me about an hour and a half to finish, but took about 45 minutes just to really go anywhere. I was engaged for the most part but considering this is a story that could be geared towards a young audience, the attention holding rate is lacking. Not to mention when things were really starting to pick up, it was time for a hard cut to wait for Episode 2. 

This first episode set up a great plot for the rest of the game to follow and I actually find myself excited to continue my journey to unite the “Order of the Stone,” and put a stop to the catastrophe that could end the blocky world as we know it. Oh and don’t worry, it’s not an escaped Enderdragon. Fortunately they came up with something much cooler that you’ll have to find out for yourself!

 

Verdict
Pros
+ Attention to source material
+ Family friendly and entertaining
+ A creative spin on a game with no real narrative
Cons
- First epsiode was rather short
- Slow pacing
- Sluggish controls
8 Presentation
Minecraft Story mode takes a game with no narrative and crafts an entire world brimming with personality and character. The presentation so far is great!
7 Gameplay
Sluggish controls aside, the Telltale formula remains simple and engaging. The added Minecraft crafting elements work just as well, making Gameplay pretty solid.
6 Lasting Appeal
This episode was rather short and had some quirky pacing, so lasting appeal takes a bit of a hit here. It's still engaging and fun, but the drop off rate for a younger audience could be pretty big.
7.5
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Story Mode is a solid attempt at giving all new meaning to creativity in Minecraft. The plot is set and it looks to be both interesting and fun. I'm looking forward to continuing the story Telltale has crafted and seeing everything they have in store for the game.
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