Now I can say for certain this is a game that has taken me entirely by surprise. Minecraft Dungeons is the game you’ve absolutely heard about because it’s got Minecraft in the title. Outside of that, Minecraft Dungeons is an over the top dungeon crawler similar to the likes of Diablo. Thinking on it for a second, how could Minecraft Dungeons possibly try to emulate the likes of Diablo? We all know Minecraft for its blocky rise to fame and continued popularity, as well as the immense amount of freedom the game offers. Minecraft Dungeons is a different take on this, and it is honestly a very good one. The cubed world we all know and love was fleshed out just enough to entertain audiences of all ages, and promises a fun experience to whoever plays it.
The very first thing that sticks out about Minecraft Dungeons is the playstyle. Instead of the typical third person camera, it’s got an over the top view. It can be jarring to someone coming fresh from Minecraft, but it doesn’t last long. The game is incredibly simple to pick up and play. Having played on PC, left click is melee and right click is bow. That’s as barebones as it gets, just click with the attack you want to do. The real variety comes in the Relic slots, which are mapped to 1, 2 and 3. These augment your attacks or give you buffs that allow you to fight more efficiently or move around the battlefield. The majority of the game is just making sure you upgrade your arsenal in order to fight bigger baddies and save the day. Now, this is where the real gameplay loop comes in. The game has adjustable difficulties, and higher difficulties drop better loot. To get rare loot you need to kill strong enemies, as is standard dungeon crawler fare. Although the loot system is incredibly simplistic in Minecraft Dungeons (1 Melee, 1 Body, 1 Ranged, 3 Relics), it is still super exciting getting a unique weapon or bow that lets you mow down entire hordes of zombies.
Another big part that needs to go mentioned is the ambience. Minecraft Dungeons absolutely killed it with how well they diversified the environments and how unique each one feels. The sound effects, like the clanging of anvils in the mountains and the screeching of witches in the swamp, these actually made me feel incredibly invested in what I was doing. The enemies all look creepier, the Creepers lean forward and lurch towards you, while the zombies shuffle along looking limp. This goes leaps and bounds above the source material, where the animations were almost non-existent. Every enemy feels threatening and real, regardless of how blocky they look. These little things build up incredibly with how the story was handled. Each level gets a small introduction as well as an animation, and you’re tasked with saving the villagers and getting to the end. The story isn’t complex at all, it only builds on what Minecraft already had set up. You’re the Hero, and you need to save the Villagers from the Arch Illager. That’s it, and that’s all there really has to be I think. You know what you need to do, and because you’re the hero, you’re the only one capable of doing it. This type of simple story works best for something based in the world of Minecraft, as Minecraft is so open ended that everything can get convoluted really quickly.
To finalize, Minecraft Dungeons is an incredibly well done step away from the normal Minecraft formula. It embraces its roots and wears them with pride, and ensures you’ll never feel un-familiar with whatever landscape it tosses at you. Everything is built to look and feel familiar but engaging, rewarding you with exciting new weapons and artifacts not seen before in Minecraft. While simplicity can be a turn-away or get repetitive for some people, it isn’t the main selling point of the game. The engaging gameplay loop and scalable difficulty makes Minecraft Dungeons a worthwhile game to pick up, whether you’re young or old; a Minecraft veteran or not. This game sets a good bar for what Minecraft spin-offs are capable of, and I’m excited to see more of these in the future.
Score: 8 out of 10
Reviewed on Windows 10 PC