Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 1 Review (Xbox One)

This game is really interesting. Something about it intrigued me when I heard that Telltale would be writing their own narrative and in effect are creating their own canon for the Minecraft universe. It’s really pretty exciting stuff for everyone involved, Telltale get to create the lore for this world, Mojang get to watch their world thrust into a narrative setting, rather than a strictly creative (or survival) one and we as players get to experience another great game from Telltale, who are well know and renowned for their excellent storytelling and open-ended masterpieces.

It goes without saying at this point, that Minecraft is somewhat of a gaming phenomenon. Nothing has really caught our attention like this since the launch of the game and nothing will quite have the same following and feel to it long after it’s died down. That means there is a lot of potential for the developers in this game, but also a huge risk of upsetting millions of fans if it goes poorly. But if there is anyone who can do this universe justice it’s Telltale, right?

So you start out with a little bit of customisation, but that won’t impact the story much at all. Your characters name is Jesse, who begins his life in this game as the coward and a little bit of a loser. Jesse and his gang of friends are on their way to EnderCon where there is a building competition happening, with the big prize being a chance to Gabriel, a great warrior from the Order of the Stone. The order are the only known team to defeat an Ender Dragon, so he’s kind of a big deal. Of course, things go horribly wrong for our cowardly character who must become a hero to save everyone.

The story so far is cliché, which is fine considering it’s for a younger audience and the elements of the game that are integrated into the storytelling are pretty cool. That being said, compared to other Telltale games there does seem to be a distinct lack of consequences, meaning it matters a lot less if you fail a quicktime event or choose a different dialogue option. Again, this appeals to a younger audience as they generally don’t need to be faced with horrific death after every event. For the more veteran players among us however, this lack of real meaning to each decision is kind of what Telltale games are about and without it, there is a lack of impact about the game.

If you are someone who is really into Minecraft and understand a lot of the elements of the game, you are going to have a much better experience than someone who doesn’t know a lot about the game. Even just seeing things like creepers, spiders, skeletons and zombies felt pretty cool just because I knew what they were and I could relate to how Jesse would feel in the game. Then you’ve got other, deeper references like the Nether realm, the Ender Dragon, the Wither and beacons (they even talk about how to make a rainbow beacon, which you can actually do with stained glass in Minecraft!).

But as with all Telltale games, the story is just building in episode one. As you can expect there is a lot of character development and learning the basic canon of the world that Telltale have created. That being said, you can’t really expect to pick up episode 2 and 3 without playing the first so if you intend on playing through the series, episode 1 is a good place to start and more importantly is definitely worth the asking price from Telltale.

Final Verdict – 7/10

+Story in the Minecraft universe
+Easy to pickup, simple hero’s tale
+Lots of references to the game
+Great cliffhanger

-Simple, catered towards a younger audience
-Not hugely focussed on other aspects of the game

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