Hot off the heels of its Season Two release, Minecraft Story Mode crashed onto the Nintendo Switch this week in true Telltale Games fashion: with immediate exposition, rapid quicktime events, witty humor, a killer soundtrack, and the crippling fear that you may 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 the “Complete Edition,” this game contains all five episodes of Season One as well as a three-episode adventure aptly named Adventure Mode.
In Minecraft: Story Mode, you fill the chunky, pixelated shoes of Jesse – an aspiring builder that just wants some recognition for their sweet building skills. Joined by his (or her – dependent on the avatar you choose) close friends and fellow underdogs, Axel and Olivia, Jesse sets out to enter a building contest for EnderCon. Oh yeah, and there is also Reuben – your pet pig and one of the most fantastic characters in the game. (Who said bacon wasn’t man’s best friend?)
After a short controls tutorial in the form of a quick time style training montage, you and your posse 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 party to summoning a world-ending calamity: the Wither Storm. Typically, that sort of thing only happens on Tuesdays, but, hey, this day seemed like a pretty good day for a world-ending calamity. And so, the story begins.
If you’re not familiar with the Telltale Games formula, it looks a little something like this: Telltale Games takes an intellectual property and turns it into a choose-your-own-adventure visual novel, released in episodic form. I say visual novel because there really isn’t a whole lot of “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 on in the game where you enter an intense fight, but while using your wooden sword, it breaks! After the quick time event, you have to use a crafting table to make a new one. And, yes, you have to combine the right crafting materials in the right order to craft the thing you are attempting to craft. It’s a quirky formula, but it works… mostly.
Minecraft is an interesting choice for the Telltale Games treatment because Minecraft is a game built around open exploration, survival, and creation. There is a certain freedom with the original Minecraft formula that seems to be absent from Minecraft: Story Mode. But what it loses in freedom, it makes up in humor… and some pretty dark humor at that!
Let’s talk about Minecraft: Story Mode’s migration to the Nintendo Switch.
While this game is not a high-definition graphics heavy game, the Switch has some glitches with synced voice-over audio with the character animation. There is also some delay in switching between the quicktime events, cinematic moments, and gameplay screens. This really impacted the pacing of the game. This, however, could have less to do with the performance of the Switch and more to do with the game port itself. I also had an issue with inconsistent control responses making me miss the quicktime queues… but that could have been a carbon-based error between the seat and the screen (me) and not the controller’s fault.
I have one final critique of the game which leaves me a bit confused. Minecraft: Story Mode left me wondering what audience this game is for. Many of the easter eggs and pop culture references are fairly dated (albeit fantastic) and some of it’s thematic tones lean toward an older audience while the source material’s demographic and the gameplay mechanics leans heavily toward younger kids. Perhaps Minecraft: Story Mode is just Telltale and Mojang’s attempt at growing the game up alongside its player base.
Since its release, Minecraft has been inspiring generations to use their imagination in order to create and to harness the collaborative possibilities that the game’s universe presents to the player. In the vacuum of story or purpose, Telltale Games seeks to draw our curiosities back into the pixelated world of blockheads once more to discover the hero that lies within, the calamity to defeat, and a pig that’s people, too.
Minecraft Story Mode Score – 6.5/10 (the .5 is for the pig)
- Fun soundtrack
- Witty humor
- Clever pop culture references
- Reuben the pig
- Inconsistent controls
- Rough voice acting and dialogue
Cohesion between game elements