Minecraft: Story Mode (Episodes 3-4)
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Game Reviewed: Minecraft: Story Mode (Episodes 3-4)
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Platform: PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Mac, iOS, Android
ESRB Rating: E10
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Minecraft: Story Mode is an attempt to tell an interactive story in the universe of the popular worldbuilding game, Minecraft. The developer, Telltale Games, is renown in the gaming industry for their compelling characters and well-written stories, and Story Mode is their shot at telling a family-friendly tale, using a game many children already know and love.
While most video games include challenges, like killing all the enemies or getting to the end of the level, Minecraft: Story Mode is more about choosing how to talk to the other characters, and occasionally hitting button prompts to safely lead the protagonist through a dangerous situation.
Minecraft: Story Mode follows Jesse and his/her friends (the player can choose whether to play as a boy or girl) as they try to defeat a huge monster called the Wither Storm. In order to do so, they have to reunite and recruit the five members of the Order of the Stone, a group of heroes renown for their epic accomplishments throughout the land. Whether they can get them to work together is another issue, let alone defeating the force of nature that is the Wither Storm, but Jesse is determined to reunite the Order and save the world.
Like all of Telltale’s games, Story Mode consists of five episodes that release periodically. I already have reviewed the first two episodes, and this review covers episodes 3 and 4. Episode 5 is set to release at an unspecified time later this month.
So if your kid likes Minecraft, or you enjoy a good story, odds are this is a good game to choose. Now all that’s left to decide is whether it’s appropriate for your child.
What Parents Need to Know
There are a few battle scenes, usually against zombies, skeletons, and green monsters called Creepers. Since the game is presented in Minecraft’s retro style, it’s all very light and cartoony, and it’s never graphic.
If you fail the button prompts in some of the action scenes, Jesse can die in a number of ways, and while the tone of the game is serious the deaths themselves are still quite mild.
One character is killed when they’re flung hard against a rock. Another dies after a great fall.
Since you can choose what you say in this game, and your words change how the characters react to you, I have not heard every possible line of dialogue in this game, but I counted one use of the word “damn.”
Nothing to speak of.
The Minecraft universe has various spiritual and sci-fi elements, such as other dimensions, potions, and the ability to enchant things. The characters briefly battle a witch, who throws potions at them. At one point, the player enchants a weapon of choice to use against the Wither Storm.
Since you can choose what you say and how you behave, the opportunity exists to be rather rude or uncaring. But how you act is entirely up to you.
A Child’s Perspective: My 11-year old nephew loves Minecraft, and he loves this game. His younger sisters have enjoyed it as well, though the need to read all your dialogue options is an obstacle for the younger ones.
The games that propelled Telltale into the spotlight were decidedly more mature than this, based on franchises like The Walking Dead and the Fables graphic novels. Story Mode is their first game since that revolution to aim at more of a family-friendly audience, and for the most part, it works well.
The emphasis on adventure segments with button prompts is fitting, in a way, since they’re aiming at a younger audience and the heavy, character-driven drama of their other games would likely not keep some children’s attention. And when those character moments in Story Mode do come up, they’re excellent as could be expected. But it still does come across less as an excellent story that kids can enjoy, and more like a story that’s pretty clearly made for kids.
But that’s not to say it isn’t good. It’s full of energy, the voice acting is excellent, and its connection to Minecraft goes a long way toward getting kids invested in a game that’s not about running, jumping, or shooting. And that’s probably the biggest reason it has my recommendation; if you want more for your kid than shooters and action games, here’s a great opportunity for your kid to engage in an interactive story.