(Mine)Crafting a Story

(Editor’s Note:

Introduction

Aiden recently let me know that I could download Minecraft Story Mode and play through at least the first episode for free.  I was under the impression that it cost money.  That’s the only reason that it has taken me this long to try the game.  Although I haven’t played much Minecraft in any form over the last month or so, I remain addicted to the game.  Because, every time I do sit down to play it, I lose several hours to whatever silly job I end up creating for myself.

I have yet to play any of the “story mode” games.  I’ve been introduced to the Guardians of the Galaxy one and find it intriguing because I enjoy the movie and comics so much.  I even went as far as to download the Walking Dead one.  None of them, though, have enticed me enough to load up and start playing.  Until Minecraft.  Because we need some filler/an easy topic to get back into the podcast, I’ve played and written about the main game on more than one occasion, and I just discovered that part of it is free, join me for my introduction to “story mode” with one of my favorite games of all time.

The Good

If you’re anything like me, you will totally geek out the first time he talks.

Voice Acting – The first thing that I noticed, and I’m sure this was intentional, is that Patton Oswalt does the voice of the main character.  I didn’t recognize any other voices and I’m a little surprised that Patrick Warburton didn’t voice any characters, but hearing Patton’s voice as one of the first things in the game has gone a long way to increasing my enjoyment of the game.

It’s Minecraft:  I know that I was using this old trope quite a while to illustrate the good in these articles.  However, I haven’t used it much recently, so I feel safe resurrecting it now.  The game is recognizable as Minecraft, even if you aren’t performing many of the same actions as in the main game.

Decent Story:  The story isn’t great, by any stretch of the imagination.  It was interesting enough, though, to keep me playing.  First, I wanted to see how the building competition might end (as I expected, but a twist to make it worth the wait), then when the pig ran away, I really wanted to chase after it, and now I want to see what happens with the Wither skull and diamond trade.

Funny:  It is genuinely funny, too.  Both Aiden, who heard some of the dialogue and me, as I played through it, laughed at more than one part.  It isn’t side splitting, but there is humor and it is welcome.

Choose Your Own Adventure:  The game tells you that your choices matter.  It also helpfully reminds you at times that a character will “remember” your choice for later in the game.  I don’t know exactly how true that is since I’m only part of the way through the introduction, but it is valid enough that I consider my choices before making them.  I could go back to play through again, similar to how I used to read the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books until I got the best and the worst ending, but right now I’m treating it like a game, taking it seriously, and considering the circumstances of my choices.

The Bad

In spite of the bad voice acting, this game genuinely frightened me in more than one place.

Voice Acting:  How can this be both good and bad?  Well, as I already mentioned, other than Patton Oswalt, I didn’t recognize a single voice.  That’s not necessarily bad, but at least one of the voice actors seems to have taken a class at the Resident Evil school of voice acting.  It’s not awful, but it isn’t good, either.  It is just bad enough that when you hear the voice, it takes you out of the story for a moment as you realign and try to fit this bad into something that overall is actually decent to good and might become great later in the game.

It isn’t Minecraft:  Wait, you are probably thinking, now you are just talking in circles.  While that might be true, let me explain.  It is recognizable as Minecraft due to the graphics and overall feel of the game.  However, and I’m not saying that it is trying to be, it isn’t anything like Minecraft in terms of gameplay.  Sure, you mine and you craft, but those are accomplished only to advance the story and only by rapid pressing of a single “button”.  Overall, it’s just not that engaging and doesn’t add much to the game other than make it more game and less of a movie.

The Ugly

I mean, this is running on a super duper high end computer and they look like this.

The graphics:  Again, the game knows what it is and it has been successful in spite of the fact that it uses blocky, retro style graphics during a time when games are becoming more and more realistic and pushing for realism to add to the appeal of virtual reality.  But, seriously, the graphics are not just retro, they are retro in 3D.  Sometimes the style is just jarring and I wish for slightly better aesthetics.  But, I know it won’t ever happen, so I’ll just keep complaining about it.  That’s what we old guys do, right?

The Verdict

It’s not quite Minecraft, but it’s close enough.  It’s named for its story, which isn’t great, but is just good enough.  Some of the voice acting leaves quite a bit to be desired, but Patton Oswalt makes up for all of that.  Minecraft Story Mode isn’t a great game by any measure.

What it is, though, is a good enough game.  It does just enough right to make me want to finish the first episode.  We will see if I can continue to forgive the not so great and keep playing once it isn’t free anymore.  I get the feeling that I might end up just buying it.  That will most likely lead me back down the rabbit hole of the main game and both will feed one another.

 

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