Minecraft Story Mode is the latest adventure game series from TellTale Games, and marks a departure from the developer’s typically mature-rated content, at least lately.
Recently purchased by Microsoft, Mojang’s Minecraft franchise is hugely popular. It’s one of the few franchises that have been able to transcend gaming and break into mainstream culture. A trip through the kids’ section of a department store is all that’s needed to see the wide assortment of Minecraft merchandise available. Now TellTale is taking its turn with the franchise, offering a five-episode glimpse into the world of Minecraft.
For the last couple of years Telltale Games has catered to a mature audience. TellTale’s The Wolf Among Us, Game of Thrones, and Tales from the Borderlands have all been relative hits for the adventure game company since its breakthrough “Game of the Year” adaptation of The Walking Dead.
While it’s indisputable that kids love video games, it’s really adults who drive the economics of the video game industry. It will be interesting to see if TellTale can maintain its level of success while targeting the younger audience, but the company would be hard pressed to find a property any more popular with kids.
Surprisingly, Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode One: The Order of the Stone is not just another of TellTale’s mature-rated title chapters toned down and dressed up as a kids’ game. Unlike previous Telltale games, this one introduces some RPG elements, like character creation and crafting. The somewhat limited character customization allows players choose their characters’ gender and racial appearance. There are a total of six avatars to choose from, three of each sex and with three different skin tones. As for the crafting, those who have played the original open-world Minecraft game will have no trouble creating items in TellTale’s Story Mode. Everyone else will need to consult the included recipes.
Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode One: The Order of the Stone puts players in the role of Jesse, an aspiring builder on his way to EnderCon, where he hopes to meet his hero Gabriel the Warrior. The episode actually does offer some more exploration and puzzle-solving opportunities than recent TellTale adventure games. However, it still follows the general TellTale gameplay formula. That means that this decidedly short episode is mainly filled with a lot of cutscenes, QuickTime, button pressing events, and the requisite dialogue choices.
What is unusual this time around, is that from the looks of it, at least the beginning of Episode Two will be significantly altered based on a decision at the end of Episode One: The Order of the Stone.
If you’re not already a fan of Minecraft, you might have some trouble getting used to the 8-bit graphics it’s known for – although, the longer you play the game, the less noticeable the primitive art seems to be.
While the graphic fidelity might not be what you’d hope for, it does help to mask the usual TellTale adventure game technical issues. The typically jerky animations are much less noticeable with blocky characters. The cinematography is well executed, and the game does feature an impressive cast of voice talent.
Minecraft: Story Mode is a no-brainer for fans of the original Minecraft and probably younger adventure game enthusiasts, but it will likely turn off those accustomed to more mature storytelling.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence, and Mild Language. This game can also be found on: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
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