Hot on the heels of its Season 2 release, Minecraft Story Mode crashed onto the Nintendo Switch this week in Telltale Games style: with immediate exposition, fast-paced events, witty humor, a soundtrack- its murderous and the crippling fear that you might just ruin a relationship or two along your journey. This is our Minecraft: Story Mode review for the Nintendo Switch.
Packaged for the Nintendo Switch as a “Complete Edition”, this game contains all five episodes of Season 1 as well as a three-episode adventure aptly named Adventure Mode.
In Minecraft: Story Mode, you fill in the chunky pixelated shoes of Jesse – an aspiring builder who just wants some recognition for his sweet building skills. Joined by his (or her – depending on which avatar you choose) close friends and fellow outsiders, Axel and Olivia, Jesse sets out to enter a building contest for EnderCon. Oh yeah, and there’s also Reuben – your pet pig and one of gaming’s most fantastic characters. (Who says bacon isn’t man’s best friend?)
After a short tutorial on the controls in the form of a quick-style practice montage, you and your party are off to the contest! One thing leads to another and somewhere along the line you meet one of Minecraft’s legendary heroes from the Order of the Stone…and you also become part of a doomsday summoning calamity : the Wither Storm. Typically, this sort of thing only happens on Tuesdays, but hey, that day seemed like a really good day for a doomsday calamity. And so the story begins.
If you’re not familiar with the Telltale Games formula, it goes a bit like this: Telltale Games takes an intellectual property and turns it into a choose-your-own visual novel, published in episodic form. I say visual novel because there really isn’t much “gameplay” outside of making choices and the occasional point of interest interaction.
For Minecraft: Story Mode, it looks like this: there was a moment early in the game where you get into intense combat, but using your wooden sword, it breaks! After the quick event, you need to use a crafting table to create a new one. And, yes, you have to combine the correct crafting materials in the correct order to craft the thing you’re trying to craft. It’s a weird formula, but it works… mostly.
Minecraft is an interesting choice for the Telltale Games treatment because Minecraft is a game built around open-ended exploration, survival, and creation. There is a certain freedom with the original Minecraft formula that seems to be missing from Minecraft: Story Mode. But what he loses in freedom, he makes up for in humor… and a bit of dark humor too!
Let’s talk about the migration from Minecraft: Story Mode to the Nintendo Switch.
Although this game is not a high-definition graphics game, the Switch has some issues with the voiceover being synchronized with the character animation. There is also some lag in switching between Quicktime events, cinematic moments, and game screens. This really impacted the pacing of the game. However, this might have less to do with Switch performance and more with the game port itself. I also had an issue with inconsistent control responses causing me to miss Quicktime lineups…but that could have been a carbon based error between seat and screen (me) and not the controller’s fault .
I have one last review of the game that leaves me a bit perplexed. Minecraft: Story Mode left me wondering what audience this game is for. Many of the Easter egg and pop culture references are quite dated (albeit fantastic) and some of its thematic tones lean towards an older audience, while the source material’s demographics and gameplay mechanics lean heavily towards younger people. children. Perhaps Minecraft: Story Mode is just Telltale and Mojang’s attempt to grow the game alongside its player base.
Since its release, Minecraft has inspired generations to use their imaginations to create and exploit the collaborative possibilities that the game world offers the player. In the void of story or purpose, Telltale Games seeks to drag our curiosities back into the pixelated world of fools to uncover the hero within, the calamity to defeat, and a pig who is also a people.
Minecraft Story Mode Score – 6.5/10 (0.5 is for Pig)
- Fun soundtrack
- Witty humor
- Clever pop culture references
- Reuben the pig