To say I was eagerly anticipating the first episode of a series from Telltale on a Minecraft property is pulling it a stretch thin. The game has the same troupes and dance as previous titles from the acclaimed adventure-narrative game developers, but will it succeed with another spin on it?
Episode 1: The Order of the Stone
Developers: Telltale Games, Mojang
Publishers: Telltale Games, Mojang
Platforms: PC, PS4/PS3/PS Vita, Xbox 360/Xbox One, Wii U, Android/iOS/Fire OS
Release Date: October 13th 2015
When I saw the reviews on Steam when it released a few ten or so hours ago, many were complaining the ill-likeness of the game to it's big-brother counter-part, that is the property itself that the title was lending from.
Similar to what happened with Tales from the Borderlands, many people were banging on about the game not being the slightest bit similar to Borderlands at all. Obviously, the people aren't idiots, and rather 1) misinformed or 2) bought anything that had the name of their favourite brand/franchise because they trusted that product. Minecraft: Story Mode isn't the first to receive such treatment, and maybe future titles, depending on what Telltale produce, might.
So how does the the game itself do? Well, to be honest my expectations going into this album wasn't sky-high. After what was a fairly average penultimate episode to Game of Thrones and even Tales, I wasn't really about to play the game the minute it came out. And from what I've played, I've enjoyed every single moment so far.
I would say I was pleasantly surprised. The game still does contain the essence of recent Telltale titles but it is still a nice addition to their catalogue.
The flaws, while obvious seem to stem from the plot and the characters rather than what the usual suspects were. The jerky, frenetic movements of the characters that were found in the previous games were nowhere to be seen, and ran smoothly as Jesse, the main protagonist played by Patton Oswalt, goes on his quest forward along with his band of merry friends.
The plot device in the story does seem to feel like as if we've been through it before on numerous occasions, and most choices, dubiously, seem to make no alterations to the story no matter what you make. We all know that by now, and when it comes to predictability the game offers not much twists and turns. There is one twist that happens but is quickly forgotten because it's brushed off by the 'quest' that the story was focusing on.
The plot itself isn't all that unique, and even some of the characters are either bland or stereotypes. The only ones I felt was interesting and relatable was the main character, Jesse, being a male or female depending on what you chose. His pet Reuben I thought was fine but the others faded into the back quite quickly.
Ashley Johnson (The Last of Us) , who plays as Petra, is a scavenger who turns in deals for others. While her voice acting is distinct and fresh, most of the voice actors tend to have the same pristine to them. Dave Fennoy plays Gabriel, one of the four members of the Order of the Stone. While he does okay, you tend to notice him more as Lee and not Gabriel. The characters are interesting but not particularly likeable for what it's worth.
The voice acting is good for the most part, but you can feel as if they were playing as themselves rather than the character they were portraying that. Lukas, played by Scott Porter from Speed Racer, does decent and was another one that I felt was interesting in an otherwise 'okay' cast.
Other than that the positives do outweigh the negatives for Minecraft: Story Mode's season opener. Telltale embraces the essence of the enormous property and many subtle references would be noticed by fans and players alike. Rather than shy away from what makes Minecraft so great, Telltale dives into the building and crafting aspect along with small details that subtly catches you on as you play out the story.
For example the player needs to craft something to proceed from the materials that he has. Most players would, with a snap of their finger, identify what to build while others who have never played Minecraft would not. It is a game for Minecraft fans, whether or not they like it.
Ultimately what drives the game onward is Jesse's character to an extent and the over-arching story that follows from here. The first episode sets us up for what is surely to be an engaging story onwards and there is enough here to satisfy both Minecraft lovers and Telltale fans alike.
Is it better than the first episodes of most of their recent titles, preferably Tales from the Borderlands (of which in my opinion is the best)? Not really, no. But while the wheels are greased and if Telltale puts in a consistent shift we may be looking forward to a good game after all.
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