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Gaming Review

Minecraft Dungeons: Hits A Few Stumbling Blocks

Release date: 26 May 2020

Platform: PC, Xbox One

Developer: Mojang Studios

Publisher: Microsoft

The good:

  • Gets you hooked easily
  • Classic Minecraft
  • Refreshing take on the Minecraft franchise

The bad:

  • Slightly oversimplified
  • Short gameplay

 

A dungeon crawler may seem like a highly unlikely choice to be part of the Minecraft franchise, but if you were to give it a try, you’d realise that it actually makes sense. Besides, the franchise has never disappointed in making the action RPG genre a happy home for entertainment centred around co-op and creativity.  

Fighting. Collecting. Levelling. That’s all you have to know about the game. And all you need to succeed in the many different levels filled with enemies and loot is just 10 hours of gameplay, and three other friends. Then explore every nook and cranny, engage with dispatching mobs, and be served with classic Minecraft twists.

And if you’re keen enough, there’s even a plot beyond all that hacking and slashing to provide some context, as well as an evil king with a mystical orb of power that you need to defeat. But that’s all there is to it. Also, if cutscenes are your thing, you would probably appreciate the high production value of it. That said, they probably should have invested a little more in developing the storyline instead.

Play out of the box

While the storyline may fall short of your expectations, the other elements of the game are thankfully compelling enough to carry it. And if you were expecting Dungeon to follow the action RPG template, you’ll be in for a big surprise. Because Mojang has ditched the traditional class-based roles to offer greater room for character customisation and progression. Your role on the battlefield will be determined by your gear. That’s right. Your armour, weapons, enchantments, potions, and artefacts will combine and react with each other like a high school chemistry experiment. The results are always different, but it’s fun and entertaining all the same. Sometimes even visually spectacular!

What this means is you can be anything you want to be, even a warhammer-wielding wizard-like healer. And the results have clearly proven that there’s no harm ditching the rules and embracing the volatility of experimentation. 

Of course, its stellar gameplay mechanics have also helped to contribute to the overall game experience. The combat is fluid and polished, making every strike and swing exhilarating and satisfying. A natural extension of the Minecraft universe, if you have enjoyed all its previous release, you probably would like everything about Dungeons —from self-combusting creepers and animal dropping health-restoring meat to lava pools. Mojang has deftly combined familiar sights with dazzling new environments that will make you love the Minecraft universe even more. And we guarantee it will be a delightful treat. Unlike your typical dungeon crawler, the game can easily be completed in six hours. But you can throw in a few more if you’d like to try its New Game Plus modes, or even vary its difficulty. 

As much as we love the game, we definitely feel that Mojang could have offered a little more to increase the entertainment value of Dungeons. Likewise, ditching the conventions of your typical RPG comes at a price. There are no skill trees, class composition or even loot customisation. And while you may purchase randomly generated loot from vendors at your home base, outside the levels themselves, that’s just about it. Essentially while Dungeons offers plenty of room for experimentation, it falls short in terms of character progression. So if you enjoy the high-level tinkering of an RPG, Dungeons is possibly something you would grow out of in the long run. That said, Mojang has promised to deliver updates to the game in the future.

Does it tick all the right boxes?

There’s no doubt that Minecraft Dungeons ticks all the right boxes in the hack and slash genre, and has enough flair and polish to be recommended to anyone. Yet, it only meets the bare minimum of what you would expect from an action-RPG in terms of its storyline, replay value, and character development. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if some would find the game addictive, but your fun will be short-lived with only so much to hack and slash. 

3.5/5 STARS

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