Review

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode One--The Order of the Stone Review

  • First Released Oct 13, 2015
    released
  • PC

Building to something

Narratives set within the universe of Minecraft aren't exactly new. A quick search on YouTube reveals thousands of people already telling stories using the world and aesthetics of the hugely popular game (some more successfully than others). But Minecraft: Story Mode has something those thousands posting videos don't: a pedigree in telling engaging, carefully crafted stories.

Minecraft: Story Mode comes from developer Telltale Games, a company that has played a more than significant role in the recent renaissance of the adventure game. This new game is a departure from Telltale's recent, adult-focused stories: you won't find murder, sex, or mutilated bodies here as you would in The Wolf Among Us, or get mired in the dark, oppressive drama of The Walking Dead. Rather, Minecraft Story Mode is squarely focused at a more general, family audience, offering a gentle adventure where the most pressing choice is which of your in-game friends to disappoint. This is certainly much more Goonies than Game of Thrones.

While the recent Telltale Games have hit the ground running when it comes to their narrative, this first episode of Minecraft: Story Mode feels like a slow start. The stakes, the characters' motivations, and all of the pieces for the entire series' overarching story only fall into place right at the end of episode one's runtime, making it feel like an extended prologue rather than the first act of a grand adventure. This episode stopped just when I wanted it to keep going.

Meet The Order of the Stone.
Meet The Order of the Stone.
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That's not to say I didn't find any emotional investment in the few hours this first episode brings. There's some gentle humor here, some dashes of excitement, and a reverence for the world of Minecraft that fans will no doubt love. A lot of the game’s nuance will be lost on non-Minecraft fans, but despite the narrative delving deeply into the original game’s mythos, it’s certainly not inside-baseball enough to alienate casuals . Main character Jesse and her friends get embroiled in a mystery involving the famous Order of the Stone, a group that defeated the powerful Ender Dragon but has since split up under mysterious circumstances. (In a nice touch, The Order of the Stone was part of the original name for Minecraft back in its early days). I don't want to delve any more deeply into possible spoilers, but suffice it to say in this first episode alone, Jesse gets to interact with some iconic Minecraft creatures, visit a variety of locales, and even tangle with one of Minecraft's most deadly and powerful creatures.

It helps that the main character here--Jesse (who you can choose to play as male or female)--serves as a proxy for a typical Minecraft fan. Jesse is enthusiastic about the world she's in, excited about building complex structures from blocks, geeking out about going to Endercon-- (an in-game convention that features a building competition--), and in awe of anyone with courage enough to brave the hostile environment of the Nether. Jesse, in other words, is every 10-year-old who watches Minecraft videos on YouTube. The other characters are more like archetypes: Axel, a gruff but big hearted friend; Petra, an adventurer who’s not adverse to taking risks; Olivia, a cynical but loyal companion; and Lukas, a rival that may or may not be on your side. These characters’ interactions are pleasant enough, with some witty conversation, good-natured ribbing, and some Minecraft in-jokes helping give the episode a genial feel (what is scarier? A zombie or a creeper?). The cast that brings these characters to life are uniformally excellent, with both Patton Oswalt and Catherine Taber as the male and female voice of Jesse perfectly selling that eager, fan aspect of the character.

Building is just a matter of button presses in Story Mode.
Building is just a matter of button presses in Story Mode.

Everything in Story Mode--from the blocky visuals and menu fonts to the music and even the autosave indicator--looks like a direct lift from the original game. Aside from the characters having a bit more bend in their limbs compared to vanilla Minecraft, Story Mode looks, sounds, and feels like, well, Minecraft.

The gameplay, however, is typical Telltale: a mix of narrative choices (many of which have direct ramifications on how the story plays out), light puzzles, and quick time events. There are no major twists or turns in this first episode of Minecraft: Story Mode--it's an amiable journey for Jesse and her friends, and if you're a parent wanting to play this with a child, there's nothing here in terms of questionable content. Your biggest choices tend to revolve around which of your friends to support, or which character to help in given (albeit stressful) situations. Everything--so far--seems black and white: the good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, although some much needed gray is injected right near the end. It's only a hint, but it's a clear indicator that future episodes will carry more narrative complexity than this first episode contains.

No Caption Provided

But while the narrative takes its time to get to the point, there are several engaging sequences that require quick reflexes, including (skip to the next paragraph if you want to remain completely spoiler-free) fleeing from that aforementioned Minecraft big bad and riding on a minecart through the Nether. There are some sequences, too, that tie in the mechanical, building component of Minecraft proper into Story Mode. You won't actually have to build anything as you do in Minecraft (all building is handled via QTE), but little tasks like creating a shelter when the characters find themselves outside at night and using a crafting table are nice touches that lend the game even more Minecraft flavor.

It's that flavor that helps propel this first episode of Minecraft: Story Mode along, even when the story itself only begins to hint at the scope of the adventure ahead. It's a pleasant start, packed with individual events but featuring little in the way of narrative propulsion. When I reached the end of this episode, I wanted more. I'm hoping that, like most outstanding Minecraft creations, Minecraft: Story Mode just needs a little more time to build.

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Now Playing: Minecraft: Story Mode - Video Review *SPOILER ALERT*

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The Good

  • Some exciting sequences
  • Minecraft activities integrated smartly into the narrative
  • Look and flavor of Minecraft recreated well

The Bad

  • Story just gets interesting before it ends

More Platform Reviews

About the Author

Randolph played through Episode One twice, making different choices to see how the narrative would be affected. Game reviewed using a PC version supplied by the developer.
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Gelugon_baat

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I am quite inured to hideous-looking things in video games, I have to say first.

Yet, I am not certain that putting a thing like the Wither Storm in a Minecraft-related game is appropriate. It is a huge three-headed flying kraken-thing that sucks stuff into it like a black hole; it seems more at home in Lovecraft fiction.

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

There is a premise to set up in the first episode but there is quite a lot of busywork involving typical Minecraft stuff, such as crafting.

Still, some of the references are amusing, such as Petra's remark on golden swords.

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Gamer-babe

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Haven't played it...... And now I never will.

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Ezioprez9709

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Why does this game exist?

And hey, this is coming from a Minecraft fan.

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zamtrul

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Telltale is starting to tackle a lot of things. This might seem like a good thing but soon they are going to run out of fuel

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SsangyongKYRON

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I can't swallow this game. What's my problem?

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Sound_Demon

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@SsangyongKYRON: That's cause it isn't a "Game"

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adam4897332

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The game itself is OK,tells an interesting story and let players do their own decision.But the story ends when it is about to get interesting.It is like watching a movie,but not much to play,it should have been more in this game,more minecraft elements in it.This game has the look of minecraft,but not the soul and heart.

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ERoBB

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@adam4897332: Because it's not a Minecraft game. It's a Telltale game that uses the Minecraft license. Just like Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.

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lecev

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I've made $76,000 so far this year working online and I'm a full time student. Im using an online business opportunity I heard about and I've made such great money. It's really user friendly and I'm just so happy that I found out about it.

Heres what I do...---->>http://www.Cashwiki77.com

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SaturatedButter

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Edited By SaturatedButter

My only takeaway from this game is Press Right Click To Reuben.

Seriously, these Telltale games are always bad. The mechanics are lame and the storytelling is bad. I can maybe understand people finding something to enjoy the first time they did one of these kinds of games. It was a unique kind of thing to do. But the dialogue is always cheesy. No human being actually talks the way people in Telltale games talk. They're bad writers.

Maybe it's just their poor writing, but I feel like this particular Telltale game is paced worse than they usually are. I keep wanting it to hurry up. It's so slow and boring.

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Lazerbeak2125

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@saturatedbutter: maybe u need to stop smoking crack

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Arsyad00

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guess telltale got their budget cuts

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PlaystationZone

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Why minecraft on ps4 since MS owns rights since they stupied keep exclisive to get people to buy xbox1 Phil really this dumb.

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Mantan911

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@playstationzone: What?

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burasta

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Edited By burasta

First Telltale game I absolutely have no interest in. Congrats!

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captainwonton

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I thought this was like an adventure type of mode with objectives inside minecraft, like an update to the main game, I feel like this game could be a cheap cash-in on the popularity of the game, but I guess well have to wait and see, I love telltale though

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PLUG313

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I cannot believe so many people are hating on this and Telltale omg what's wrong with you? it might not be your thing but some people actually prefer interacting with a nice narrative than going around shooting stuff.

just respect it for what it is.

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RogerioFM

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I was never a big fan of Minecraft, I'm not sure how good that could be for me. I guess I'll just wait until all episodes are out and then decide.

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jaygood

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Man my son is going to LOVE this. How often to the episodes come out?

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punksterdaddy

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@jaygood:

There is no concrete answer when it comes to TellTale. It can be as little as 3 weeks but as much as 2-3 months between episodes.

A problem I believe they need to address if they want to get continued support for their games. I have many of their titles and after their Game of Thrones game, I am done with their episodic releases. I am still waiting on the final episode and I've forgotten most of my choices up to this point.

I hope this gives you some idea on what you are going to decide.

Also, they tend to give away episode one after a couple of months in order to boost sales for the rest of the series. I have been stung by this twice now. Lol.

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undeadgoon

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@magicalclick: yeah im not really into mine craft.. but this is pretty fun..!!

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LexLas

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Edited By LexLas

Why is this only PC ? WTF ?

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Flyin3lvl

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Wheres steve?

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NothingForMoney

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I still can't believe someone managed to make a story out of Minecraft

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HappyCamper1979

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Never gave telltale a dime of my money and I never will.

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repetitively

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@happycamper1979: do you have a good reason?

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HappyCamper1979

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@repetitively: I hate their business model. Finish the game then release a finished product. You don't see Bethesda releasing fallout in tiny episodes. I also hate that they make you feel like your actions have a major impact on the story, but all paths eventually lead to the same place.

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MrFreehuggs

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@happycamper1979: Bethesda does release Fallout in episodes called DLC. The season pass alone for Fallout cost twice as much as a full telltale game

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HappyCamper1979

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@MrFreehuggs: it might coat twice as much as a tt game but it has at least 10 times more content.

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repetitively

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@happycamper1979: you don't see Bethesda focusing fallout as episodic either or releasing each piece for a measly 5 bucks.

Sure your choices only have minor consequences but ppl who play these enjoy the story and enjoy feeling like they are telling the story the way they want to.

Also small companies like tell tale can't perform the same as giants like Bethesda, pointless to compare them

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ignore78

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Edited By ignore78

they should have just add a story mode in the original minecraft. This is just like a cartoon show for 5 year olds. I want them to create a living world in minecraft with ton of quests and stuff to do with real bosses. And ton of loot.

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HappyCamper1979

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@ignore78: telltale can't do that. They can only make cookie cutter games that make you feel like you have a choice, but your actions don't mean shit.

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MrFreehuggs

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@happycamper1979: Such strong opinions for someone who's never played any telltale games.

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HappyCamper1979

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@MrFreehuggs: I saidi never have thema dime of my money, not that I haven't played any of their games. I played through the entire first walking dead in a couple hours at a friends place and didn't find it at all impressive.

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NL_Skipper

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@happycamper1979: How would you know your choices don't matter if you've only played one game, one time...?

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cornbredx

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Edited By cornbredx

@happycamper1979:

"I played through the entire first walking dead in a couple hours at a friends place"

That's impossible given the narrative structure of their games (more cut scene than game play- you can't speed run a telltale game in a "couple hours"). Each episode is around 3 hours long and there is 5 episodes (unless you count 400 days, it's fine if you don't) meaning it's around 15 hours or so to "play through the entire first Walking Dead."

Nice try, though.

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@cornbredx

This

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Minecraft: Story Mode - A Telltale Games Series

First Released Oct 13, 2015
released
  • Android
  • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
  • Macintosh
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation 4
  • Wii U
  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox One

Minecraft: Story Mode will be an all-new narrative-driven game series developed by Telltale in collaboration with Mojang. Set in the world of Minecraft, the series will feature an original story, driven by player choice.

8
Great

Average Rating

59 Rating(s)

7.1

Developed by:

Published by:

Genre(s):

Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Everyone 10+