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Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode One “The Order of the Stone” Review

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One of the most popular games out there for the past few years has been Minecraft, especially for the younger gamers. I, however, have never been sucked into that world, mainly due to the lack of story and any real path to follow… I just don’t see the point in building stuff for the sake of it. Thankfully, Telltale Games have decided to deliver a Minecraft Story Mode in their own unique way. Will episode one of Minecraft: Story Mode begin a journey worthy of the Minecraft franchise or could there be a good reason as to why there wasn’t a story for this world in the first place?

This episode introduces a group of pals that have a love for building and a true admiration for The Order of the Stone, a legendary band of heroes that took down an Ender Dragon. These friends, led by Jesse, are off to Endercon in the hope of meeting the mighty warrior, Gabriel. Trouble is brewing though and so Jesse becomes tasked with finding the rest of The Order to find a way to save the world from this new threat.

Jesse is the main character to be controlled and immediately there’s a choice to be made with regards to appearance as well as gender. Obviously I chose the male option voiced by Patton Oswalt, but Telltale have also brought in a female voiceover actress in the form of Catherine Taber. It’s a smart move to accommodate both male and female players, even if there are only three different appearances for each.

MCSM-gabriel

Minecraft: Story Mode has gone for the third-person point and click adventure style whilst keeping the Minecraft visuals, but unlike many other episodic tales, this never really stops to take a breath from start to finish. Interactivity is at the forefront of Telltale’s mind, with fight sequences, QTEs, wandering around creepy open areas and of course a bit of Minecraft crafting all present. You’ll be using all that’s in Jesse’s inventory to follow recipe patterns and creating useful items when necessary.

Everyone knows how the QTE element works where buttons or directions are displayed on screen for you to press accordingly, however it’s the fighting that impressed me due to it adding another dimension to proceedings. Jesse has a limited amount of health during confrontations and it’s down to the player to guide him/her towards enemies before deciding when to attack; get too close and prepare for the health bar to start depleting. To the average and above gamer this may seem simplistic, but it delivers an appropriate way for the target audience to not have to struggle with it too much.

What was really surprising was the amount of variation in the enemies you’ll come across within the Nether and the Overworld, even if you don’t battle them all. There are creatures such as creepers, zombies and the always rather sad looking ghasts; having plenty of differing mobs keeps it fresh.

MCSM-Creepers

Story-wise there’s never a dull moment and although there’s an element of drama at times, this episode constantly reminds itself not to get too dark by interjecting with a dash of humour to lighten the mood. When you consider the dynamics of Jesse’s group and acquaintances, they nearly all have a moment to shine and to get their personalities unveiled, apart from Olivia who seems to pale into insignificance at the moment. Hopefully, that’ll change after the choices I’ve made to set up the next step of the journey for the following episode…

In short, Telltale Games and Mojang have made sure that this series will stay true to its Minecraft roots in both the visual style and the inclusion of features like crafting. To make a fan out of me is an incredible feat but all I ever wanted was a decent story and this seems to be starting out on the right track. I laughed at the silliest of quips, I got a little bit nervous when darkness arrived and most importantly, I enjoyed every second of this unlikely adventure with three unpopular builders and a pet pig!

For Minecraft fans it’s a no brainer, just grab this opener or the whole Story Mode season of five episodes. For anyone whom doesn’t get the Minecraft phenomenon, Episode One “The Order of the Stone may just open your eyes to the joy it can bring to all.

James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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