Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 1 Review: Minecraft Through And Through

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There’s no denying the juggernaut that is Minecraft. Everywhere you turn, it seems that kids (and some adults) are talking about it, playing it, and building to their imagination’s content on the popular game from Mojang. Available on consoles, PCs, and mobile devices, there are plenty of ways to play it. So how do you keep a franchise fresh? You expand your horizons, and the company has done that by partnering up with TellTale Games, creator of popular episodic point-and-click graphic adventures like The Walking DeadThe Wolf Among Us, and Game of Thrones (amongst others). Our Minecraft: Story Mode “Episode 1: The Order of the Stone” review takes a look at this collaboration and see if it keeps up with the Minecraft spirit.

Story

Before we take a look at the story, check out the trailer for the first episode of Minecraft: Story Mode.

In Minecraft: Story Mode, you start off choosing your hero, and can play as either a male or female hero named Jesse. Once you’ve chosen your character, you’ll embark on a perilous adventure across the Overworld, through the Nether, to the End, and beyond.

Minecraft-Story-Mode-Jesse-Choices

Choose male or female Jesse with one of three costumes each.

“Episode 1: The Order of the Stone” sets up the story for the remaining four episodes, which will be released one at a time down the road. You, as Jesse, and your friends travel to EnderCon hoping to finally win the building competition and secure a spot in being able to meet Gabriel, Warrior of the legendary The Order of the Stone. But everything isn’t as it seems and you run into Ivor, the bad guy of the story, and soon discover a hidden truth about The Order of the Stone.

Each chapter is nicely broken up into small segments that move the story along, right up to the final part which — as in typical Telltale fashion — leaves you hanging and wishing the next episode was already released. While the story itself wasn’t anything earth-shattering, it is definitely a building up episode that leads into the rest of the series.

Of course, at the end of the episode you’ll see how your choices stacked up against everyone else who played. I’ve blurred the screenshot below so as not to spoil any of the story for you!

Minecraft-Story-Mode-Choice-Comparison

Find out how the choices you made stacked up against others who played.

I did find “Episode 1” to be quite short and took just under a couple hours to complete. While this is a decent amount of time to keep kids interested, it felt very short compared to other Telltale games I’ve played in the past.

Another thing I will mention though, and this may affect your choice to either allow or not allow your kids to play this, is that there was a fair amount of dialogue that some parents might not find suitable. It isn’t anything earth-shattering, but there were quite a few “loser,” “stupid,” “crap,” and the likes — as well as a choice to punch someone in the face — throughout “Episode 1: The Order of the Stone”. Just something to keep in mind.

Gameplay

I never really got into Minecraft, although both my kids absolutely love it. I’ll admit I was a bit apprehensive diving into Minecraft: Story Mode, but I am a huge fan of Telltale Games’ previous offerings so in I went.

Telltale and Mojang have done a bang up job with this game. From the little Minecraft I have played, this game feels like Minecraft through and through, yet at the same time it feels exactly like other Telltale Games episodic game adventures. You start off with an intro sequence, and then every so often you’re tasked with choosing a conversation response to move the story along. Be careful how you answer, as it will affect the choices you make and the story going forward.

Minecraft-Story-Mode-Choices

Choose what you say wisely, it will affect the story going forward!

Those conversation choices often translate into story direction choices, as with past Telltale games. There are also action sequences where you are required to use the buttons or thumbstick to move, jump, or dodge. The biggest new addition to the Telltale formula though comes straight from Minecraft itself. Throughout the story you’ll pick up items, so be sure to search chests and whatnot when you get a chance. Every so often you’ll come across a crafting table and you’ll have to use the supplies you have on hand and the crafting table to craft an item that will help you progress forward. You don’t have to do this blindly either as there is a recipe menu that will show you what you can craft and what position you’ll have to place the materials on the crafting table to craft the desired result.

Minecraft-Story-Mode-Crafting

Crafting!

Gameplay is smooth, and I didn’t notice any stuttering as is present in some other Telltale games. This could also be due to the simple Minecraft style graphics that are present. Overall, the gameplay is reminiscent of other Telltale offerings with a nice Minecraft crafting twist thrown in for good measure.

Being a Minecraft game, the kids wanted to play it, and I was a bit worried as to how they’d take to it as sometimes the choices seem a bit rushed in previous Telltale games, but they had no issues making the necessary choices in the alloted time.

Graphics

There’s no doubt about it, the graphics in this game scream Minecraft. Unlock other Telltale Games like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones which are stylized versions of popular shows, right from the opening credits through the gameplay and graphics, Minecraft: Story Mode looks, feels, and plays like Minecraft. The blocky Minecraft graphics suit the story well, and the world settings will be more than familiar for those who have played Minecraft before.

Minecraft-Story-Mode-Graphics

Yup, there’s no mistaking we’re playing Minecraft here.

Sound

As with the graphics, there’s no doubt that the sound effects and music inspiration was taken right from the Minecraft source. Everything from the animals to the sword effects and crafting sounds is pretty much identical to what you’ll hear in the Minecraft games.

The voice casting seems to be working quite well so far, and having chosen the male Jesse, Patton Oswalt is doing a very good job. The rest of the voice cast has been great so far, with Brian Posehn as Axel, Ashley Johnson as Petra, Scott Porter as Lukas, Martha Plimpton as Olivia, Dave Fennoy as Gabriel the Warrior, Billy West as the narrator, and Paul Reubens as Ivor. We’ve yet to encounter the rest of the cast which include Catherine Taber as female Jesse, Corey Feldman as Magnus the Griefer, Grey Griffin as Ellegaard the Redstone Engineer, and John Hodgman as Soren the Architect, but if the current cast is any indication, these new characters should be voiced just fine as well.

Wrap Up

For someone who doesn’t “get” the Minecraft craze, Minecraft: Story Mode “Episode 1: The Order of the Stone” was a great start to a new chapter (so to speak) in Mojang’s Minecraft world. Those who play and are familiar with Minecraft should enjoy this slightly different take and story set in the Minecraft universe.

*We were sent a review copy of Minecraft: Story Mode “Episode 1: The Order of the Stone” for the purposes of this review.
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