Minecraft is one of my favorite games of all time. So to say that I was excited for a new installment of the franchise is a bit of an understatement. Minecraft Dungeons has been a very fun game that I’ve put about 12 hours into so far and I plan to put in a handful more. I’ve enjoyed almost every second of it, and while it’s a relatively new game I’m close to getting every achievement already. It’s very clear that the developers are dedicated to providing more content to the game and making it into something more. Because of that, I wanted to write a review of my impressions after my first play-through and then look at it a year or two down the road. Let’s jump into it.
Story (6 / 10)
In my experience with dungeon crawlers the story tends to be lacking to some extent. The Diablo games have decent stories, but because of the format it’s hard to be immersed and, in my opinion, actually care about why you’re spamming all of your buttons. I definitely wasn’t expecting much from the story of Minecraft Dungeons, but in terms of how the story was portrayed I’d actually argue it was very well done. The cut scenes were brilliant and there was a clear purpose throughout the game. This is mostly credited to the narration that was implemented and kept it in line with the Minecraft style of in-game entities not having dialogue. In other words, the story was told well rather than just text-based dialogue you want to skip more than read. However, it wasn’t exactly a good story.
Now, that’s not to say that the story was bad, it was more just in the middle of the two. Minecraft is made to be played by anyone of any age, and so I wasn’t expecting a dungeon crawler iteration of the game to have a dark story or anything amazing. But not only was the story short, I didn’t find myself caring about killing the bad guys to save the day. I just wanted to complete the level and get some more loot. On top of that, what makes me absolutely love a story is the ending. And without spoiling anything, this ending was just kind of meh. Nothing major happened, it was just another boss and a cool cut scene with a bit of a cliffhanger for DLC but that’s it. The story didn’t grab me in any way. Maybe I’m asking too much but I really don’t think I am.
Replayability (10 / 10)
The replayability of this game is insane as you would expect with a dungeon crawler. However, because of the randomly generated maps it’s very easy to rerun the same level over and over and over because it’s always a little bit different. On top of that, Minecraft Dungeons has a lot of different difficulty settings. So you can raise and lower the difficulty with each mission. But more than that there are also three versions of the game that involve difficulty. Starting off with Default you beat the game going up against some kind of tough enemies. Once you finish you enter Adventure mode where there are more enemies that are harder to kill and drop more loot. Past that is Apocalypse mode where it gets harder to match your character’s power level. It’s a great game to play over and over.
Challenge (8 / 10)
The challenge can be too easy at times, but rarely did I come across a situation where I was just steamrolling the bad guys. And with the multiple difficulty settings and modes it’s very easy to tailor the game to an experience you’re looking for.
Graphics & Art (10 / 10)
The graphics and art style of this game is perfect. Based on a game that is basically 3D 16-bit content, the game actually does a really good job of honoring its origins while creating its own style. There is a mixture of the Minecraft blocks and almost animated realism with bushes and lighting that feel natural even though they aren’t anything like the blocks surrounding them. The whole game looks like it has a shader pack infused into it and it’s beautiful. On top of that the developers didn’t shy away from the goofiness we see in Minecraft sometimes too. For example, the keys are absolutely adorable and funny to watch run about.
Uniqueness (6 / 10)
This game does feel to some extent unique. Because of the art style, the mobs you’re facing, and the mechanics of the game it’s not exactly like other dungeon crawlers. However, it feels like a vanilla dungeon crawler. Unlike other games there aren’t classes in Minecraft Dungeons and the skill trees and abilities are tied to loot anyone can find. The experience isn’t necessarily unique to each individual player nor is it entirely different from other games like it. Outside of the randomly generated maps the bosses and the overall gameplay is very similar throughout the game. While it does allow for a lot of customization, it is in every way very vanilla.
Entertaining (8 / 10)
Thanks to the gameplay, replayability, online coop, and art style, this game is definitely entertaining. As I stated above, I’ve put close to 12 hours into this game already and will be putting a few more into the game before giving it up in any sense. It’s a very satisfying and fun game. However, because of the random generation and the dungeon crawler aspect it can sometimes be a bit annoying to search an entire dungeon because they can be absolutely massive. And with the game’s current state having some glitches and various lag issues based on connection (or in the Switch’s case the docked version has some frame-rate issues according to an SBR member who owns the game on Switch as well).
Gameplay (8 / 10)
The gameplay is fantastic and arguably the most appealing part of the game. There is a large diversity of weapons with varying speeds, range, and effects. On top of that there are a ton of different enchantments appearing in multiple fashions. This means the absence of classes is noticeable, but not necessarily a huge issue because the diversity of weapons and effects allows for each player to tailor the gameplay to their style, to an extent. One of the issues I do have with this game, something that Destiny also struggled with is the power mechanics. Because the game relies on the increasing difficulty of enemies you have to in turn increase the power and damage output of your weapons. This means that even if you like one weapon over another, you’re almost forced to use the new weapon if it’s a bit higher than the other otherwise you’re going to get smacked. That being said, the enchanting system where you’re rewarded for leveling by getting points you can dedicate towards weapon / armor effects works really well. You don’t have to save your points if you can just dismantle your old weapons / armor and get the enchantment points back. Overall, the gameplay is fantastic and I recommend people who aren’t Minecraft fans (MAX) try it out.
Game Length (4 / 10)
This game is short, like very very short. I beat it with SeeJayOG in under 4 hours and now after 12 hours in I’m almost 100% the entire game and a lot of that time involves going back and replaying levels I’ve already beat. The base game is only about 7 or 8 missions. And while there are a handful of secret missions you can unlock and the random generation allows for a lot of replayability, it felt uncomfortably fast and I really hope the DLC is able to fix this issue. I feel the developers relied too heavily on the replayability of the game. However, the use of things like NewGame+, different classes, randomly generated areas, and a longer campaign all create natural replayability.
Collectibles (7 / 10)
There are a lot more collectibles in this game than I originally thought and with the secret missions, numbered chests, and secrets within each level it’s very easy to be compelled to collect everything. I’ve definitely seen other games do the collectibles better, but the collectibles in this game, especially considering how much the game is centered around collection, aren’t bad.
Soundtrack (5 / 10)
The soundtrack isn’t bad. I know the 5 / 10 may make it seem like that but it’s going up against some big competition: Minecraft. Minecraft’s soundtrack is one of the best I’ve played, it’s the kind you can toss on in the car and just feel the vibes of block breaking and building. But Minecraft Dungeon’s soundtrack wasn’t special by any means. I was expecting to be blown away to some extent, and maybe that expectation wasn’t fair. However, considering the quality, uniqueness, and popularity of the original I think it’s fair to expect a bit more from Minecraft Dungeons.