Minecraft: Story Mode
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Minecraft: Story Mode is a downloadable episodic adventure game, whose story will be complete when the fifth chapter is available. This also is an extension and embellishment of the preexisting Minecraft game, which is basically Legos on a computer. This outing injects a narrative into that universe, introducing characters and a plot that had not existed before, blended with the Telltale Games' characteristic adventure-game model, which hinges on the player making branching decisions at pivotal moments to shape the adventure ahead. Violence is cartoonish, without any blood or gore.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
In MINECRAFT: STORY MODE, you play as Jesse -- who can be either male or female -- on the day of EnderCon, a sort of meta-Minecraft competition within the Minecraft world. If that sounds confusing, basically what it means is you join your friends while en route to build the best possible contraption at a contest that kicks off a big festival for the town. While you're building, a fire breaks out in the area, sending your pet pig squealing off into the woods. You track him down and begin to make a series of discoveries that unveil some dark secrets about your town's history.
Is it any good?
This game had a tough challenge to overcome in injecting a narrative into a world where previously there was none. The narrative that does unfold is a tad generic, since it seems to want to play both to fans of Minecraft (who are typically children or teenagers) and of Telltale (whose games have skewed more mature and nuanced). (The story in a Telltale game is very important, since the focus is on dialogue and navigating the personalities around you.) Though not every episode is out yet, this first outing is a good effort, though noticeably lighter in terms of what you're able to do, the locations you can visit, and choices you can make.
In other Telltale games, the threat of one of your decisions leading to someone's death is very real. However, since this is a game intended for children, your choices feel somewhat neutered. The focus here seems to be more on being diplomatic and kind to everyone. This isn't a truly harsh issue, as the writing is enjoyable and there are a few genuine laughs, but the series still has a chance to turn things around and go in some interesting directions. As the first chapter closes, it's set up to be fairly generic, although it borrows from myths and familiar stories, which a kid might see as repetitive. Chances are they won't mind, though: It's freakin' Minecraft with a story!
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about new people working on older ideas. What do you like about the concept? What could be problematic about building on preexisting content?
Which challenges do you think went into creating a story in a world that previously had no story? Did you have a story in your mind already? Why, or why not?
- Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iPhone
- Price: $24.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Release date: October 13, 2015
- Genre: Puzzle
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Mild Language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.