Tuesday, 17 October 2017

My Usual Spiel - Minecraft Story Mode Season 1: More fun then a point and click adventure

Release date: October 13, 2015
Genre: Graphic adventure
Publisher: Telltale Games, Mojang
Developer: Telltale Games, Mojang
Platforms: Windows, macOS, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Modes: Singleplayer Only

I for one, have been playing Minecraft for a long time, almost since the start actually, if I can recall it was the Alpha 1.2.3_04 version from late 2010 and in case you’ve been living under a rock it’s gotten bigger and more popular than ever becoming a franchise with apparel/toys/home and office supplies and gadgets and other merchandise. It’s become so big in fact that the franchise has now qualified for a Telltale game. For those of your who don’t know Telltale Games  are a game design company that focuses on episodic gaming and digital distribution and is well known for their game series’ that are based on TV shows such as The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, they have also brought their own style of game to other game worlds such as Tales from the Borderlands which is based in the Borderlands universe. As you can probably guess Telltale game focus heavily on storytelling with most of the player interaction comes from Quick Time Events and Dialogue wheels though simple movement like walking around and investigating an area is still allowed albeit with limited control and within a small area. This type of gameplay is often referred to as Interactive movies, the Dreamcast game Shenmue one of the first game to feature this type of gameplay and also Heavy Rain which was a launch title for the PS3.

The main menu, it all looks very clean.
When Telltale released Minecraft Story Mode on Steam I was at first not very interested as it seemed like it was for kids, then a bit later I looked at a playthrough of its and was impressed at the design but scoffed at its limited playability, then I decided in the end I might actually give it a go partially because it was on sale and partially because anything Minecraft I’ll try out. So I did, and I was pleasantly entertained, the visuals were great, who knew they could make a game with blocks look so good and not specifically the graphics just the designs they created in the game itself there was lots of thought put into every scene and it looked amazing. I found myself constantly thinking of how long each area would take to build in the original game though of course with mods like Worldbuilder large-scale projects are made much easier. I purchased the base game and also the Adventure Pass so I could access all 8 chapters of the story though though technically the first four episodes are one story the next 4 are a different story though with the same characters and setting. Most of the lore and the areas used are based on the main game, you even explore areas such as the Far Lands which is a name given to the supposed “edge” of the Minecraft worlds, though there are no traditional Villages all of the people, houses, towns and communities are created new for the series.

The Temple of the Order of the Stone
So we’ll start at the beginning, Minecraft Story Mode tells the story of the The Order of the Stone which is also the name of the first episode, the 4 members are Gabriel the Warrior, Ellegaard the Redstone Engineer, Magnus the Rogue, and Soren the Architect. The order were famous for defeating the infamous Ender Dragon and then faded into legend. You then get to create your character with limited options, I just went with the default white male character as it didn’t really matter to me, you also had options to different skin colours or a female character. You are then introduced to Jesse, a fan of Gabriel the Warrior and a poster collector who is preparing for the EnderCon Building Competition alongside their friends, Axel, a griefer, and Olivia, a redstonist, and Jesse’s pig Reuben. First off there is a brief scene in the friends treehouse where you are introduced to the characters and the dialogue wheel which is actually kind of stressful as you have a limited amount of time to reply and if you don’t someone takes it upon themselves to answer for you, in contrast to The Old Republic where you could stand around for hours staring at each other before needing to press anything and even press escape to re-do the conversation if you didn’t like how it turned out. 

You can view all of the episodes from the start, this is the screen from the first one showing most of the main characters including (from left to right) Lukas, Jesse, Olivia, Axel, Reuben and Petra
 You were then able to freely walk around and look and interact with things inside the treehouse, yes that’s pretty much the degree of control you have, walking around and looking at things in a smallish area. throughout the game you can interact with other characters while doing this of course and there are also parts of the game where you can look around multiple areas and rooms. ‘Jesse’ also has an inventory where you can place various items beginning with a humble wooden sword but can be a variety of things from old favourites from the base game like Flint and Steel to new special items acquired on the journey like the Eversource Crown. Unlike the original game you cannot ‘equip’ these items or use them at any time, they require a special circumstances often involving a quick decision and a bit of fumbling around trying to find the inventory key.

The scene is from episode five where the group are investigating Sky City , you can see the quicktime keypress prompts and the scene where you can control Jesse and walk around investigating.

Jesse and his friends then get caught up with a scheme by the (then) bad guy Ivor who creates a Wither with an intent to control it but it soon gets out of control becoming the Wither Storm and sucks up Gabriel along with hundreds of other blocks and becomes gigantic and the gang adventure to the Nether in order to find the Temple of the Order of the Stone. After this it was time for Episode 2: "Assembly Required" the main focus of the story goes to finding the remaining members of the Order of the Stone where you meet Magnus the Rogue and Ellegaard the Redstone Engineer, you had a choice during this episode to either go to Redstonia to find Ellegaard or Boom Town to find Magnus, I’m kind of regretting going to Redstonia though now found that the choices you make determine even what content you will see as well as changes in the story which was both cool and annoying as it means I might have to play it again sometime hah.

The Wither Storm split into 3
Now I’m not going to go through the whole story but basically you find Soren the Architect who is doing experiments with Endermen in Episode 3: The Last Place You Look and then set out to stop the Wither storm in Episode 4: A Block and a Hard Place and I gotta admit the last episode in that storyline was pretty epic. The next 4 episodes revolve around Jesse and his friends Petra, Lukas and the now semi- good-guy Ivor exploring an ancient temple then getting lost in a hallway of portals and needing to find the way home. This series was especially good as it focused on Minecraft culture and themes, Episode 5: "Order Up!" focused on the Skyblock mod for Minecraft where the gang is trapped on an island in the sky and discover a city with limited resources and where building is illegal. Episode 6: "A Portal to Mystery" is based on  a murder/mystery movie and features cameos from various Minecraft Youtube personalities including CaptainSparklez, LDShadowLady, Stampy Cat, Stacy Plays and DanTDM. Episode 7: "Access Denied" is mostly about Redstone engineering and malevolent ai, and the final episode, Episode 8: "A Journey's End?" features Spleef and is where they discover The Old Builders.

PAMA from the Access Denied episode
The end of the "A Portal to Mystery" Episode with youtubers DanTDM and Stampy Cat
What can I say about the graphics well they are probably the best part of the game, the scenery, the characters and the shading effects. I only recently started using shaders with Minecraft but it’s amazing what they can do, they just make the world much more realistic and atmospheric, you can really tell the time of day and what the weather is like. I spent most of my time marveling at the creations inside the game stuff that would take me months to do though technically even with just another 2 people it speeds things up greatly. Looking at the things I’ve seen on the culture section from minecraft.net and from the many servers I’ve visited I can come to the conclusion that more people = more epic things and besides someone developed the whole of Skyrim and other games of equal epic scope didn’t they? and that wasn’t made of blocks. So It’s simply the more people working at it the easier it is, I think it’s because I just keep thinking of how long it would take me on my own to build. The game isn’t completely true to Minecraft obviously and there are a few creative liberties taken especially with the characters which you would expect.

There were some pretty epic shots in the game.
As we all know your character in the original Minecraft has very limited body movement swinging his (or her) arms and legs apparently without any elbows or knees (or feet for that matter) and has no facial expressions whatsoever, so it’s obvious there would need to be a change. The character models have been modified to have working facial features including eyebrows eyes, and mouth which is no longer a flat surface and elbow and knee joints. The characters still looked pretty funny when moving but this was all part of the game.The soundtrack was pretty damn good there was a mix of ambient music similar to the original Minecraft music then there is the orchestral soundtrack plus a bit of custom intro music it was overall pretty good, I didn’t concentrate too hard on which music was already in Minecraft and which music wasn’t and also which sounds were new etc, it all sounded good with nothing out of the ordinary thrown in, not much else to say hah

I like this intro, the scene and music work well, you can also see how the characters move and speak.

It’s easy to tell the game is made primarily for kids, whole story and interactions never include any type of adult themes, nope no violence, sex or drug use here though it’s been done already in the base game thanks to zealous modders. You can almost play the entire game with one hand (cue wank jokes) and I admit I got a bit bored just watching the cutscenes and there were quite a lot of cringeworthy scenes. I felt compelled to interact with everything I could though this meant longer gameplay time. I found after a while I was counting down the episode till I finished but this was ok, the conversation choices were fun the quicktime events were easy as usual and failing in any way put you right back to the last decision or failed keypress. This is probably the advice for all Telltale games if you like good storyline and don’t mind dialogue wheels and quicktime events then this game is fine. Almost every biome, creature, item and block makes an appearance in Story mode and it’s great to see that Telltale and the Mojang team that worked with them have made this possible. I heartily enjoyed Minecraft story mode which was my first telltale game and will be back for the second season, I may even think about watching it again.

Had to include this awesome scene of the gang riding through the nether in minecarts


Things I liked:
  • Great graphics, smooth overall design
  • Entertaining story
  • Knowledge of subject area, items, lore etc

Things I didn’t like:
  • Some cringeworthy dialogue and scenes.
  • Needed more combat with other weapons, bows etc


That's right, here is all of the trailers for episode 1-7

RIP Reuben

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