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Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 1 – The Order of the Stone Review: One Hard Choice

/ Oct 16th, 2015 No Comments

Minecraft: Story Mode

When Telltale Games announced it was teaming with Mojang for a new game based on the Minecraft universe, fans of both developers were left with a lot of unanswered questions. How would Telltale’s dramatic story-based gameplay mesh with the blocky style of Minecraft? What would the story even be about?

Over the past few months, Telltale has slowly released new information regarding Minecraft: Story Mode, but still fans had questions. Now, the first episode of the series, The Order of the Stone, is available, and gamers can finally explore the world of Minecraft in new ways. But is Minecraft: Story Mode less Telltale and more Minecraft? Thankfully, it is not.

Order To Go

Players control Jesse as either a male or female protagonist. This decision is the game’s hardest choice. The story revolves around a group known as “The Order of the Stone” who slayed the Nether Dragon long ago. Jesse at first is merely attempting to win a chance to meet one member of the order, but gets pulled into a quest, along with their friends, to reassemble the group and save the world.
 

Minecraft: Story Mode

An astounding male protagonist, ready for what lies ahead.

Whether playing as male or female Jesse the story in episode one progresses mostly the same. A few pronouns are changed, but both iterations of Jesse perfectly fit the character and his or her evolution. In addition, players will need to choose between three different skin palettes for their protagonist.

Telltale strikes a perfect balance in the writing, finding the equilibrium between giving male and female Jesse distinct personalities while still being the same character. As it was famously said, the best way to write good female characters (and subsequently male ones) is just to write them as people. Minecraft: Story Mode has all the clever nuisances fans have come to expect from Telltale while keeping true to the Minecraft universe.

Block by Block, Click by Click

Telltale gameplay differs from Minecraft about as much as possible. While Telltale has mastered the art of point-and-click and moral choices, Minecraft has rose to popularity with open-world crafting. Blending these two opposing forces isn’t exactly a formula for success, but Telltale found a way to make it work.

Like previous Telltale games, Minecraft: Story Mode uses the point-and-click formula, but features a few moments of Minecraft-style gameplay in the first episode. When Jesse needs to craft, players are able to pull resources from their inventory and form it in the same way they would in Minecraft. For instance, two stone blocks and a stick make a stone sword.
 

Minecraft: Story Mode

Oh the joys of successfully navigating QTEs.

A blocky game might have presented challenges for Telltale, but if it did, it is not obvious in the game. Players don’t struggle to move around the world and interactions are seamless. The only instance of clipping or objects moving through each other oddly seemed to be an intentional part of the art style. Telltale even made it easy for Minecraft players to quickly become acclimated to the controls.

Sans Blocky Sound, More Blocky Graphics

Minecraft: Story Mode looks like just another Minecraft game, and that is perfect. The art style is captured flawlessly by the Telltale team. The world has all the details and nuisances of its source material, but it has a fresh look on new-gen consoles. Despite having a limited range in terms of facial expressions and body language, players can get a sense of each characters feelings and emotions.
 

Minecraft: Story Mode

If it isn’t Bluebeard, uh… I mean Gabriel!

Music expresses the retro feel of Minecraft while accenting each moment, but the voice acting is the star of the show. From Patton Oswalt or Catherine Taber as Jesse to Paul Reubens, the entire group of voice talent sells the narrative in an exceptional fashion. Going back to the difference between male and female Jesse, each respective voice talent brings his or her own take on the character. Oswalt comes off as more of a loveable loser while Taber’s Jesse is more overeager.

Overall

Creating a new game based on a well-known world does not always guarantee success, but if Telltale has proven anything it’s that it is more than capable of taking on this task. Minecraft: Story Mode gives fans of both Telltale and Minecraft exactly what they were hoping for. The voice acting ensemble alone could have carried this game, but it also features fascinating gameplay elements, visually pleasing aesthetics and well-timed humor.

Minecraft: Story Mode: The Order of the Stone was reviewed on PS4 using a code for the game provided by the publisher.

 

Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson

Associate Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Greg is a Nintendo fanboy who would cry if they ever went third party. He writes news, previews and reviews at Gaming Illustrated.
Greg Johnson

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MINECRAFT: STORY MODE EPISODE 1 – THE ORDER OF THE STONE REVIEW: ONE HARD CHOICE

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall92%

GAMEPLAY9

Telltale puts the icing on the cake by combining the developer's signature style with Minecraft's unique gameplay.

GRAPHICS9

Graphics have that Telltale polish but stay true to the source material.

SOUND9

A stellar team of voice talent meshes perfectly with superb sound and music choices.

STORY10

The story is great thanks to perfect writing choices that allow players to feel equally comfortable as either male or female Jesse.