If I have one complaint about Minecraft, it’s that you can build anything that your heart desires – except for an engaging story. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. You could build a world and play act a story within it, if you wanted. Which is exactly what scores of YouTubers do. But you’re not able to set out a series of events like you can with Project Spark, or RPG Maker – in general, Minecraft is a bit of a blank canvas. You can imagine a story, sure, but you can’t build that story into your creations (unless you want to make pretend, of course). That was until Telltale, the master of storytelling, got its hands on Minecraft. Telltale has taken the vast, interactive, creative and rich world of Minecraft, and weaved its own story within it. It has created a living world within a universe that was mostly about looks, and made it all about substance. Which is exactly why I didn’t hesitate to download Minecraft: Story Mode.
Telltale taking on Minecraft is quite a novel idea. Sure, Telltale has been creating stories within games for years, from The Walking Dead to Game of Thrones – but these were in worlds where the stories already existed. They did build their own stories around them, but it was within a setting where narrative was already the key component – you associate a gripping story with those types of franchises. Not so with Minecraft, however. When you think about a game like Minecraft, I would imagine that “story” doesn’t really come up (unless you’re a fan of the YouTubers that make a living from such a thing, of course). When I think of Minecraft, I think of creativity; my own creativity, and not necessarily that of the developers. That’s because, in essence, Minecraft is a gigantic playground full of building blocks. In this world, if there is going to be a story, you create it. The story doesn’t really happen to you. That’s why I was so interested by Telltale taking on the world of Minecraft, because it’s a title where creativity reigns, and narrative usually takes a backseat.
Thankfully, so far at least, Telltale has done an incredible job with the Minecraft universe. It has managed to create a thriving, interactive, diverse world which is based on narrative more than creativity. It has that Minecraft feel to it but, at the same time, it is distinctively different. That difference is the story, but it isn’t a bad thing. It’s nice to be able to engage with the Minecraft universe in a unique way like this – it makes the world feel more alive. The characters are amazing, with an awesome cast for the first and second episodes. I’m particularly impressed with Patton Oswalt, voicing the male Jesse, but every character comes out swinging in the first episode with some stellar performances (as we’ve come to expect from a Telltale cast). It really does feel like Telltale has gone all out with this series, and I can see a lot of potential for the next three episodes.
That’s not to say that the game is perfect, however. Whilst there is some level of interaction to the game-world, as there usually is with a Telltale game, I was kind of hoping that Minecraft: Story Mode, would have a little more to it than your usual Telltale title. I’m not expecting it to be Minecraft with a story bolted on the side, that’s not Telltale’s MO. But, it would have been nice to have a bit more interaction with the world. Perhaps the opportunity to actually build some objects, rather than button mash and watch the building unfold – little things like that. I also felt that the initial episode was a little slow paced. However, as I highlighted earlier, Minecraft doesn’t really have much of a story to it – at least a universally recognised one, so Telltale had to start from near scratch with its imagining of the Minecraft universe. That means that Telltale had to introduce, not only the characters, but also the background to the story – so you can understand that the game doesn’t necessarily get straight in to the action. Plus, it most certainly picks up pace in the second episode, which was a welcoming sign!
I can certainly see a lot of potential for this series, so I’ll definitely be keeping up with the rest of the episodes. Will it be as emotionally charged, as engrossing and action packed as The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us? I’m not yet sure. But it will certainly be an enjoyable experience, whatever happens over the course of the next three episodes.