Minecraft: Story Mode Review
Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Minecraft: Story Mode. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.
I'm terrible at Minecraft. That may sound strange for a game that's all about building whatever you want but believe me, I'm terrible at Minecraft. While kids less than half my age are building giant fortresses and working space stations, the most I can manage is half a tree fort before I call it a day. It's this though that makes it amazing that Telltale Games has managed to not only keep me interested in the first episode of Minecraft: Story Mode, but actually made me care about it's world and characters. It's unquestionably targeted towards a younger audience than the majority of TellTale's catalogue which is a smart move on the studio's part, but it's no less of an example of how TellTale can tell a remarkable story from just about any universe.
It feels strange to even try to create a story from the Minecraft universe seeing as the game was practically built to not have one. Nevertheless, Story Mode follows the story of Jesse (who can be either male or female) and his ragtag group of outcast builders as they try to win top prize at Ender-con, a convention for builders. Of course, this is a TellTale game and there's always more at stake. Jesse and his group eventually wander into a deal with the shady Ivor who is attempting to build some nasty plans and it becomes up to them to stop him. There's an aspect of Stand by Me or The Goonies to Minecraft: Story Mode with it's coming of age tale; including a bridge jumping moment right out of Stephen King's classic.
The game's fantastic voice cast is a major reason why Story Mode is so engaging. The male version of Jesse, voiced by comedian Patton Oswalt leads the way with roles filled out by well known names like Ashley Johnson (Ellie from The Last of Us), Telltale veteran Dave Fennoy and comedian Brian Posehn. By far though Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Ruebens' work as the evil Ivor that steals the show. You likely won't recognize him at first but he lends a menacing but not too over the top style to the character that makes him come to life in a way that I wasn't expecting. The animation nerd in me also started started to freak out when I heard Billy West as the game's narrator.
Story Mode is also unquestionably marketed towards a younger demographic than most of TellTale's catalogue, which is a smart move by the developer considering just how popular the source material is with kids. No, you won't be tracking down murderers of ladies of the night ala The Wolf Among Us and the zombies you'll meet here are more blocky than their bloodthirsty Walking Dead counterparts but that's also a testament to the studio's ability to tell a story. Minecraft: Story Mode feels a lot like it's the inevitable movie version of the hit game, or at least a Saturday morning cartoon series. Like the best modern animation works, there are enough in-jokes and mildly masked adult jokes to keep even those uninterested in Minecraft interested; and I'm proof of that.
For what it's worth, Telltale has seemingly bought in whole heartedly to the Minecraft mythos. Story Mode feels like a unique combination of what Telltale does best and what makes the source material such a mega sensation. Most Telltale games follow the same formula but with Story Mode, theres a bit of experimentation at work. Most important is the crafting system that's at the heart of Minecraft. A lot of the puzzle elements in the game can be solved by crafting elements together to create things like swords and different types of blocks. It's a neat little touch and makes Story Mode feel a bit more authentic than just another licensed piece of merchandise.
Of course, this is a TellTale game and the same problems that have haunted nearly all of the studio's games. You'll have moments where the audio doesn't synch up with what's going on on the screen, or the audio just cuts out completely. To be fair though these little glitches didn't happen quite as much as they did in previous games but they were still noticeably present. It's also once again a pain to get around in non cut-scenes thanks to a picky camera system. The pacing here does feel a lot better than most games from the studio though.
Minecraft: Story Mode is not my favorite Telltale game, that honor belongs to the Wolf Among Us, but I was pleasantly surprised with just how much fun I had with TellTale's blocky adventure. Thanks to the studio's talent to tell a story I was engrossed in these characters and the world they inhabit. Perhaps most important, I'm ready to play the next installment and see what happens to Jesse and his group of builders.
Joe started off writing about video games for small fan sites when he realized he should probably do something with his communications degree and didn't want to get into the grind of daily reporting. Joining the team in late 2008, Joe is the featured game reviewer for Cheat Happens, producing up to 10 CHEATfactor Game Reviews per month.
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