BB Reviews: Minecraft Dungeons
What if Diablo was set in Minecraft? This game explores that idea well.
With three fruitful streams of Minecraft Dungeons under my belt, I feel safe saying the game is exactly what you would expect from something that tries to do a Diablo-like game but with Minecraft’s world. Fortunately, it does so well, in an extremely polished package. This is what turns what would otherwise be a cheap cash-grab concept into something genuinely fun to play.
The story involves the evil Arch-Illager and his schemes, though the game is not heavily story-driven. Each level gives you a short narration about what evil lays afoot before you, but, much like in Minecraft itself, much of the storytelling is just you interacting with the world. There are no quests to complete, one simply needs to get to the exit of the level alive, bonus loot from side areas in tow or not.
The game also forgoes the class system that defines most Diablo clones in favor of adaptability entirely through equippable artifacts, each of which provides a special cooldown ability. There is also just a single slot for the user’s entire armor set, rather than a piece-by-piece system. Overall, this makes the battle system significantly simpler than some similar games, which probably makes it more accessible to Minecraft’s younger players.
After beating the game, one can attempt it on “Adventure” or “Nightmare” difficulties to make the challenge harder, though considerable extra content is available, such as islands with biomes not featured in the main story and several levels in The Nether. If you can collect enough Eyes of Ender from other levels, you can even open special levels in The End. They do a good job of demonstrating the diverse sorts of areas present in Minecraft.
Given some of these biomes were not added to the regular Minecraft game until recent years, it also serves somewhat as an advertisement for what awaits in the base game for returning players. I used to play Minecraft a lot but have not as much in recent years, and seeing the new Nether biomes and the underwater temples made me eager to experience content not available in the heyday of my Minecraft playing.
Mojang has shown ongoing commitment to the game with recently-added seasonal events. I had the pleasure of playing some of the spooky fall-themed events available recently and got some interesting weapons like a broom! Even when seasonal events aren’t running, there are daily missions to undertake for special bonuses. Both the daily and seasonal missions are set in existing levels, but with a number of unique spins that can even include things like making it nighttime.
Given how brief the window was between the release of the final episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode and the collapse of its developer, Telltale, it is reassuring to see that this addition to the Minecraft universe seems as permanent as the base game. Though I don’t have any little fruit batlings to play with, I’m sure it also serves as a great bridge for families looking for something exciting to play together that is still appropriate for youngsters both gameplay- and content-wise.
The graphics are as gorgeous as a game with an intentionally blocky design can be, and its soundtrack and sound design are both stellar. The subtle but familiar static noise preceding an Enderman’s presence began to give me goosebumps of anxious anticipation. Though the soundtrack in the original Minecraft is amazing as well, more thought was put into musical cues when moving between areas of levels in a deeply emotionally impactful way.
All in all, Minecraft Dungeons takes a fairly simple concept and nails it perfectly. Without the extra content later added in DLC, the game would likely feel a bit short and bare, but the developers have made sure there is always plenty to do. This game feels inspired in ways it probably did not need to be to sell reasonably well, but it has given this game lasting potential.
Can You Eat the Fruit?
Yes! It can even save your life. Enemies sometimes drop fruit — apples, watermelon, or berries — which provide often much-needed health regeneration to keep you alive during the cooldown for your health potion. Not only can you eat the fruit, you will probably need to eat the fruit.
BB’s Verdict: A-
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