Minecraft is the best selling videogame of all time. With over 200 million copies sold, it’s an undeniable success and phenomenon. However, it’s open-ended, sandbox-style of gameplay isn’t for everyone and since Microsoft purchased the IP in 2014 it’s been looking for ways to diversify the property. Minecraft Dungeons is one of the first spin-offs and it sets a very high standard for those that will follow.
Essentially an isometric dungeon crawler, Minecraft Dungeons features neither mining nor crafting. It does include plenty of dungeons though. Instead, it takes the visuals, animation style and sounds of Minecraft and uses them to deliver a new yet familiar experience.
Anyone who’s ever played Minecraft will instantly understand that Dungeons is a Minecraft game. Even those who’ve never played should be able to look at Minecraft Dungeons and know that it’s Minecraft.
Even if it really isn’t.
Minecraft Dungeons Review
Right away, Minecraft Dungeons shows just how different it is by opening with a cutscene and some story. The game provides context for the gameplay, for your journey and it goes a long way to endearing the blocky characters to the players. The big baddie is the Arch-Illager. Shunned by his fellow villagers, he explored the world until he found a source of power. Now, he’s hellbent on destroying anyone who stands in his way.
It’s your typical good versus evil story, however, Mojang is genuinely skilled at filling everything to the brim with character. The Arch-Illager is a figure to be pitied and empathised with while the Villagers remain upbeat and optimistic in the face of chaos. Even the voice-over narration has the necessary epic quality for such a tale.
You’ll be hard press to play Minecraft Dungeons and not crack a smile at the animations or genuinely feel something as the story unfolds. What you’re watching might be blocky and ill-defined, but the emotional impact never is. It would be a misnomer to say that Minecraft Dungeons offers a story in the vein of Lord of the Rings or even Diablo III. Instead, it’s more like a Saturday morning cartoon.
Entertaining and simple.
It’s perfect for sitting down with friends and spending a few solid hours chopping up Creepers.
As a dungeon crawler, Minecraft Dungeons does things a little differently than other games in the genre. There are no classes. Instead, you simply are what you wear. Each character has three active slots for melee weapons, armour and ranged weapons and three slots fo artifacts. Melee weapons include swords, dual-wielding daggers, pickaxes, handaxes and more.
They all swing differently, feel different to play with, deal differing types of damage and have a unique animation sequence. Ranged weapons include all-manner of bows and crossbows. There is also a huge range of armour that grants different buffs and abilities to help you stay alive.
On PC you move by clicking the left mouse and you attack using the same button. The right-mouse button is for ranged attacks while 1, 2 and 3 are for your artifacts. The Space bar allows you to dodge. On Xbox One, or using a controller on PC, you move with the left stick, dodge roll with the right stick or RB, attack with A, fire your ranged weapon with RT and use your artifacts with X, Y and B.
Each weapon and armour can also be enchanted to give it additional stats. They have three different enchantment slots that can have up to three enchantments to choose from. At the maximum, you’ll be choosing three enchantments from a total of nine. Early on though, you’ll likely only have one or two to choose from. This is a good thing too. In the early hours of the game, you’ll be swapping out your armour and weapons frequently as you collect more powerful items every other kill.
Where things get really interesting is when you start combining enchantments to create amazing combos. For example, you might have the Thorn enchantment on your armour (which reflects damage back at enemies) as well as lightning on your melee weapon. By combining these two, you’re able to create a makeshift tank to soak up damage and deal it back to the enemy.
The above example is a really simple one you’ll likely encounter early on. There are so many different enchantments that you’ll spend hours and hours grinding for the right roll to create your ultimate character.
Artifacts are the other equippables that grant your character a wide range of abilities. Artifacts can’t be enchanted or upgraded, however they do provide some excellent skills. The fishing rod, for example, is used to draw enemies near to you while stunning them. The horn pushes enemies back, the Totem gives you and your party health over time and so on.
There are a huge number of artifacts in Minecraft Dungeons and finding the ones that work for you is just trial-and-error. Thankfully, it’s a tonne of fun to test each one out. The ones you don’t like can be salvaged and turned into Emeralds (in-game currency) and the ones you do like can be equipped for as long as they’re necessary.
No matter what you equip or prefer, Minecraft Dungeons has been designed so you’ll be able to play and win and have a good time while you’re doing it. There are no bad options, only your preferences which decide what you’ll be using and why. Having played for a huge number of hourse in preparation of this review, I can safely say, I still don’t think I’ve seen half of what Minecraft Dungeons has to offer in terms of customisation.
Players who enjoy grinding, RNG and the chase for a ‘God Roll,’ Minecraft Dungeons is your new addiction.
Playing Minecraft Dungeons is sublime. It’s smooth, fast and very easy to learn. Playing alone is good, but it’s much better when playing with friends. The chaos on-screen caused by your party’s abilities firing, destroying hundreds of mobs and creating total and utter carnage is something you have to experience.
Likewise, the fight for health and arrow packs (which are shared) when you’re all running low. Thankfully, loot is instanced so you won’t be fighting over that. Though, if my sessions are anything to go by, the fight for arrows will get really fractuous.
I’ve never been a Minecraft player but I love this. Minecraft Dungeons is incredible. It has a level of depth rarely seen in games these days and it includes so much content that you can pretty much play it forever. Be warned that on higher difficulties it can get pretty brutal (especially if you’re playing with kids) but those of us that want a challenge will relish it.
Simply put, Minecraft Dungeons is a must-play and uniquely perfect game for the strange times we find ourselves in.
Minecraft Dungeons was reviewed on PC using digital copies provided by Microsoft.
Game Title: Minecraft Dungeons