The Average Gamer

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode One Review (PS4)

Minecraft Story Mode Jesses Group
The writing in Minecraft: Story Mode is superb. It’s funny, it’s perky and every member of the cast feels unique. You can play as a male or female protagonist named Jesse, choosing from three different skin tones and your companions are just as diverse. Coupled with the brilliantly emotive animation, playing this game feels like you’ve stepped into a world of genuine friends, complete with teenage rivalry and weirdly cynical life advice. At one point, one of the characters suggests that you play nice with a rival simply because he might be useful in the future. I don’t know how this will pan out, but it seems like surprisingly pragmatic advice for a game that will be popular with children.

There’s plenty for adults as well. Telltale Games are well aware that the audience will include 30-something and older parents playing with (or without) their children, so the 80s and 90s references should appeal. The studio have also taken care to preserve the visual style and world that makes Minecraft feel unique. Carrot sprites float in the air waiting to be collected while slime blocks magically triple in size as soon as you throw them on the ground. It looks and feels like Minecraft, to the point where I slightly missed being able to chop down trees willy-nilly.

As part of the plot, your characters will punch trees, build and fight. Everything you’d expect from a Minecraft setting is present, though most actions are achieved through QTE cutscenes rather than free-roaming the world. The story, however, is the real driver and it’s a good one.

You’ll be exploring Telltale’s usual style of linear environments, starting from Jesse’s treehouse home, to a building competition, to a festival and beyond. The significant choices are always made through dialogue, while combat is rare and simplistic. Walk slowly towards a zombie and smack it with your sword from a mile away, much as you do in vanilla Minecraft.

Still, the game has some incredible action sequences that look amazing and provide real tension. Yes, you can die if you’re not paying attention and yes, you’ll have to watch a little bit of cut-scene a few times but it’s not an arduous feat by any means. The drama comes from the characters, not the QTEs and the whole episode works very well. I’m really looking forward to seeing the full story pan out.

Also, Reuben is the best character by far. He is definitely not food.

Minecraft: Story Mode will be released across five episodes. Episode One is out now on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Windows and Mac OS X.

This trailer is full of spoilers. Maybe you like that kind of thing.

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