Now that Nintendo fans finally have the chance to play Minecraft on the Wii U, it only seems fitting that Tell Tale Game’s episodic saga, Minecraft: Story Mode would also make its way onto the platform. Set in the world of Minecraft, the first episode entitled The Order of the Stone, sees you playing as Jesse in an attempt to guide your rag-tag group of friends to victory in a building competition. Ultimately your actions get you and your friends entangled in a series of events that leave the fate of the world resting on your blocky shoulders, and it’s up to you to decide how to go about saving the day. In an adventure that’s equal parts touching, suspenseful, and cheesy, there is plenty to offer for those looking to experience Minecraft in a new way.
Much like the title says, Minecraft: Story Mode is heavily focused on the story, so much so that the little game play that you engage in serves only to further the plot or add intensity to the moment. While this isn’t a bad thing, just be prepared for a cut scene heavy game. The cut scenes themselves feature top quality voice acting, with stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt voicing the male version of Jesse, and Catherine Taber (known for her voice acting as Padme in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series) voicing the female Jesse. There is a lot of emotion and heart put into all of the acting within the game, and it keeps you engaged to see where the story is going. At many points in the game, the dialog options you choose or the actions you take will have an impact on the direction of the narrative, meaning you’ll have to play through the episode multiple times if you want to see all of the branches of the story. The game even shows you the percentage of people who chose the same actions as you, which is a nice touch. While The Order of the Stone may not spend much time giving you back stories to your companions on your quest, you’ll still want to revisit the game to see the parts of the story you missed due to the engaging nature of the plot.
Visually, this title does a great job of cementing itself into the Minecraft world. Everything looks and feels like it could have been created with Minecraft itself, and all of the characters have decent facial expressions and animations despite their blocky nature. The down side is that the areas you get to explore are very linear, so you’ll find yourself simply walking forward to get to the next area rather than having to explore every nook and cranny to find items to use in later puzzles like in many point and click adventure titles of the past. Order of the Stone may not have a heavy focus on exploration, but the title does incorporate crafting into the story line. On a few occasions, you’ll find yourself at a crafting table, and by placing the crafting items in your possession on the table in a certain pattern, you’ll be able to create an item to help you advance through the area. It’s a fun way to incorporate Minecraft’s building into the story, and hopefully it gets more usage with the other episodes.
Most of the game play can be summarized by crafting an item to solve a simple puzzle, or navigating your way through an area to trigger the next part of the plot, but the game does throw in some quick time events during cut scenes to keep you on your toes. Most of these simply require you to press a directional button in time or mash one of the lettered buttons quickly. While they aren’t difficult to react to, they do pop up at unsuspecting times, so you’ll need to keep the game pad handy at all times, something I learned quickly as I have a tendency of setting my controller down to watch cut scenes. There is also some light combat in the game, and this is done by moving towards your enemy and slashing with your sword at just the right time.
Minecraft: Story Mode’s first episode, The Order of the Stone is a fun adventure game that does a great job of incorporating the elements of the game that inspired it. The music and visuals fit well within the Minecraft universe, and the story is engaging. While some of the side characters may seem a little one dimensional, you still care about them due to all of the excellent voice acting within the cut scenes. Fans of Minecraft will most likely enjoy this title, but it’s important to note that game play is pretty minimal. If you don’t expect a hard core gaming experience, you’ll have a good time. At $4.99 for the first episode, and five episodes in total to be released, the game is worth checking out if a more casual, story-driven Minecraft game sounds appealing to you.
Review: Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 1 The Order of the Stone
Story Driven Fun
Although the game is light on actual game play elements, the story is very engaging, and the voice acting is top notch.