Minecraft: Story Mode – The Order of the Stone Review

Gaming
6.5

Fair

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Minecraft: Story Mode – The Order of the Stone
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PC, iOS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Release Date: October 14, 2015
Price: $4.99 – Available Here

Overview
Over the years Telltale Games has managed to land a number of popular licensed properties and turn out golden series with only a few misses here and there. When it was announced that they would be tackling Minecraft and providing an original storyline set in the world, some were skeptical but now that the first episode, The Order of the Stone, has been released for Minecraft: Story Mode, is this series worth starting?

Story
Players begin by selecting how they want their main character to look and whether they wish to be a male or female. Once this decision is made they find themselves placed in the shoes of Jesse, an aspiring builder who is a huge fan of the legendary heroes known as the Order of the Stone. These four heroes are renown for different things, such as their prowess in battle, building skills, and more, and are best known for venturing forth into the Ender and defeating the Ender Dragon.

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Since they managed to accomplish this feat, the group has long since disbanded but one of the heroes will soon be attending the Ender Con that will be held at a nearby location near Jesse’s location. Teaming up with his friends, a confident girl named Olivia, the loyal but occasionally annoying Alex, and his pet pig named Reuben, Jesse enters a building contest where they try to win firsthand tickets to meet one of their heroes.

Of course, regardless of how things unfold during the build contest Jesse and the group eventually find themselves as the few people who can gather those who can put an end to a threat awakened due to the unknown past of the Order of the Stone. This type of revelation comes late in the first episode serves as the only element of actual groundwork being laid for a story beyond the big bad creature threatening to swallow the world.

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The rest of the story up to this point serves in laying the groundwork for the world of Minecraft: Story Mode, as we see that your average person in this story simply lives their life out without really digging for treasures and always building elaborate set pieces. Of course these elements will play out best for those who are fans of Minecraft and know of the series’ various mechanics, such as how enemies appear at night and in dark locations, the threats that roam through the Nether, and other nuances that are only barely touched upon for those who are newcomers to the series.

As one may expect considering the subject material, Minecraft: Story Mode is a departure from what Telltale has previously been known for in their stories. Adopting a more family friendly approach, the series does feel like it lacks some element of actual drama here as most choices made by the player carry very little immediate weight and only a few appear to actually change how things may unfold later on, though the final choice may play a heavy role on how events at least start to unfold in the second episode.

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While the dramatic elements may not deliver despite the “life and death” situations still being there, only playing zero role so far, the comedy is still fairly enjoyable. It is worth noting that quite a number of the jokes do rely on player knowledge from the series as certain references and a few easter eggs may only be caught by fans of the source material. That being said, there are a number of rather humorous segments parodying the nature of Minecraft as a whole via a montage which even non-fans will enjoy while the character interactions are enjoyable enough for players to get a bead on each of their personalities.

Gameplay
Although the core game may rely on players wandering around and gathering items to craft things, Minecraft: Story Mode doesn’t step outside the boundaries of what Telltale Games are known for lately. The majority of the time players will spend in this first episode involves making dialogue decisions or taking part in quick time events. It is worth noting that even the building aspect, which comes up a few times in this episode, is handled simply through tapping a button as quick as possible as the characters gather and build.

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There are a few light puzzles mixed into the fray as well, mostly in the form of a creating items on a crafting table in a method that fans will enjoy, especially if they decide to take the humorous route, and taking part in a switch puzzle that is easy to solve. Outside of the puzzles there are of course the action sequences that see the player having to tap a button or move the analog stick to dodge and for the most part, many of these sequences won’t even result in player death. A few pieces of combat where players do have to move forward and take a swing at enemies do appear from time to time but are nothing more than simple scenes that provide a little extra control over what Jesse is doing.

Visuals & Audio
In a departure from what Telltale is used to, Minecraft: Story Mode appears to have been developed using the exact Minecraft engine making sure that almost every element of the game is visually represented in the series’ iconic blocky low-res style. The enemies, environment, and various materials are all replicated here perfectly and some of the designs that are shown throughout The Order of the Stone are quite a treat for those who like elaborate looking buildings.

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The developers have also managed to take the low detailed character models and successfully put just enough expressions onto their faces as needed by either widening or narrowing their eyes and using their eyebrows to great effect to convey emotion in a manner that works very well given the cartoon nature of the designs.

Speaking of the characters, it is worth noting that the voice actors for the cast have done an impressive job with their roles here, with the male Jesse being voiced by Patton Oswalt and a number of other well-known voice actors stepping in to give their characters enough personality to stand out despite their simplistic appearances.

Overall
The Order of the Stone kicks things off for Minecraft: Story Mode and it does so in a fairly tepid way. While it does get Jesse and the gang moving towards trying to put a stop to the dangerous being threatening their world, it only shows its real colors in the last five minutes. Although the writers opted to play it as safe as possible at the start of this series, the first episode does serve as a decent foundation for events that will unfold later on and gives Minecraft fans a perfectly recreated world with a decent amount of humor that I can only hope will be expanded upon in the future.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

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As a big fan of anime and games I'll be quick to cover anything that happens to be of interest.

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