Minecraft: Story Mode received several backlash and bad reviews from fans and players alike, causing probably the biggest dip in reviews for the company. While I certainly don't think it's a bad game per se, I do think that these reviews are needed for Telltale to revitalise their already tired genre of video games. This is a post-review discussion of said game.
Same Song and Dance; Same Tale They Tell
After three posts regarding about Telltale and their narrative-driven games, you'd think I'd be slightly less appalled to do anymore. Well, after what caught my eye this morning about the Steam store's page for Minecraft Story Mode, many negative reviews filled the first page. Needless to say, most of the fans and the players have caught on the train regarding the company's barren, formulaic products and have decided to speak up now. Well, perhaps they already did with Game of Thrones, another game that was not amazingly reviewed on release day but slowly grew into a renaissance as the series continued. We could even go back further with The Walking Dead season 2, albeit that was the game when fans realized that maybe Telltale was good at 'something', rather than one thing entirely.
The formula overdose has to be accompanied with something, and in this case, with Minecraft as a shared property, Telltale could've easily hit this right out of the park. And the reality is, there really isn't much when it comes to Minecraft's universe considering the stories that are told are through personal means and by players among friends. When a story is interjected, and when it is good (and canon), then players will objectify said-story because there was none before. Besides, when the story of how players took down the ender-dragon and built an underwater dome out of nothing is more interesting than the McGuffin-chase plot that we've not just seen before (Tales from the Borderlands), but in other forms such as other video games and movies.
I don't think Telltale is really all to blame here. As a matter of fact, in my review I mentioned that as my expectations were so low to begin with, I was surprised at how well-paced the story and the main character was. Of course the side-characters are either oblivious, stereotypes or just your plain old goonies and they often take the player out of the game, but because of what we had already it was still a satisfying experience.
The biggest thing that people thought about was Telltale's involvement in the first place. Why would they want to use the IP of video game's juggernaut in the form of Minecraft to tell a story? There are hundreds, if not thousand others that are worth the same sentiment. A Star Wars, Star Trek and even a Breaking Bad Telltale game would suit the story-telling fold rather than in spades for such other properties. And yes, they can acquire these licenses considering Game of Thrones was from HBO (AMC etc. we'll have to see), but it is unlikely from Telltale to do it. Are they just doing it to, as some of the negative review states, "cash-in" on an already bigger product? That even seems more unlikely.
The biggest concern for some is that the game is either "sub-par" or "not even a Telltale game" to begin with. And the flaws are rather obvious when the game is played. On the one hand, there are bland characters with no backstory about them, no introduction, no exploration and we're just "thrown-in" to this building competition because that's how it is. It's convenient, yes, but it has worked in the past (to some extent). Still, even then, characters like Rhys and Fiona from Borderlands and Gared and Rodrik from Thrones offer even more character depth than the likes of Jesse, Olivia and so on. Even worse, they're played by top-notch voice actors and actresses in the video game and media business. On the other hand, the story is cohesive enough, and relevant enough for the player to follow. To say that an on-the-rails story-telling experience is anything but 'fun' really does take away ultimately what makes Telltale still relevant after all.
It's what made Tales from the Borderlands fresh and unique without having to tone down in certain areas to fit a certain criteria. While Minecraft: Story Mode doesn't have a hefty start nor an embracing welcome, it does show glimpses of where the story could go. There are times where the Telltale choice signal kicks in and after having played most titles before, it just clicked when you knew what was coming next. Lets not forget though that Minecraft is a kids-paradise. It would be an absolute no-brainer for Telltale to do something to cater to the young audience, and in this case they did, and with aplomb.
Does it mean all bets are off after just one episode? Hell no. People need to let the series grow. The episode in itself is less than 2 hours if you rush through it, and refund it if it isn't your cup of tea. But to say that a game like this, when it still has probably 8 more hours worth of content isn't 'good' enough because of what we currently have? It's just blind prediction. Game of Thrones obviously started with a bump but rode it through as the season went on. I'm not saying it'll happen again, but as Telltale says, they do take our actions into considerations.
If episode 2 changes for the better, you know who's to blame/appreciate.
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Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.