A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
It's a simple good-versus-evil story, with a villain who's misunderstood and mistreated, driving him to become a pitiless despot. Multiplayer mode promotes cooperation and communication between local players.
Positive Role Models
The hero's nameless and doesn't speak. But by saving towns and villagers and defending against monsters, he or she is clearly meant to be viewed as fighting on the side of good.
Ease of Play
This game's much simpler than most dungeon crawlers, with straightforward controls, streamlined menus, and a host of scaled difficulty levels designed to ensure accessibility to a wide variety of players young and old.
Violence & Scariness
Human characters do battle with zombies, witches, spiders, and other creatures using swords, hammers, hatchets, bombs, pickaxes, glaives, and bows and arrows. Some enemies break into pieces and even lose their heads, but there's no blood or gore. The art style is extremely pixelated, and the action is viewed from a raised, distant perspective.
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Products & Purchases
This game's a spinoff of Minecraft, one of the most popular games of all time. It offers paid DLC content in the form of hero skins and extra levels to expand the experience.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Minecraft Dungeons is an action-oriented dungeon crawling role-playing game available for download on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The game's set in the popular Minecraft universe. After being repeatedly misunderstood and mistreated, a villager transforms into the Arch-Illager and begins ransacking the world with an army of monsters. One or more (if playing cooperative multiplayer) human heroes feel compelled to set out and stop this new villain before he can bring ruin to the land. Players explore a highly pixelated world viewed from a raised perspective, using swords, axes, hammers, bows and arrows, explosives, and magic to take on hordes of zombies, witches, spiders, and other aggressive creatures. Combat sees enemies falling and occasionally breaking apart, but there's no gore or blood, and the retro graphics almost make it look as though characters are made of toy building blocks, further reducing the intensity of battle. Parents should note that as a Minecraft spinoff, this game has an enormous built-in fan base of kids who will be clamoring to play. And while the base game's inexpensive, paid downloadable content encourages players to spend more money to unlock additional avatar skins and levels.
Is It Any Good?
So long as players don't go in expecting the depth and complexity of a traditional dungeon crawler or the freedom and creativity of Minecraft, there's plenty of fun to be had here. Minecraft Dungeons does a brilliant job of streamlining typical dungeon crawler play to make it accessible to players of all skill and experience levels. Combat's blissfully straightforward (just press a button to hack with your melee weapon or pull a trigger to fire an arrow), and little time is wasted sorting through heaps of gear in complex menus. Just about anyone can pick up the basics and start having fun hacking away at monsters in a matter of minutes. And it's even more fun in groups, especially since the developers have wisely headed off any potential loot sharing conflicts by reserving important gear drops for each player. Fans of more advanced dungeon crawlers will likely pine for features such as classes, crafting, and more sophisticated loot management, but they already have games like Diablo III. This one's meant to be much more accessible and kid-friendly.
Some Minecraft fans are bound to miss the mining and constructing elements of the original, but there's no mistaking this for a Minecraft game. From its classic blocky graphics to an endless array of quirky Minecraft flourishes -- pickaxes, mine carts, redstone blocks, and Endermen, to name just a few -- the aesthetic is distinctly Minecraft. That said, there's room for improvement. The maze-like dungeons are pretty to look at and fun to explore, but they -- and the combat that takes place within them -- can become a little repetitive. A few more complex puzzles and traps would have made for a nice change of pace. Keep in mind, too, that while randomly generated dungeons provide good incentive to replay, it also makes for some needlessly confusing level architecture and pointless dead ends. You can tell these dungeons weren't handcrafted by humans. Minecraft Dungeons is wonderfully easy to jump into and play, loads of fun with family and friends, and keeps the combat family friendly. So long as you don't go in thinking you're getting a dungeon crawler with the intricacy and depth of a full-priced game, you're bound to have a great time.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.