There’s a language kids are learning that leaves most adults befuddled. It’s the language of creation experience Minecraft, but most of that takes a break for a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl in the aptly named Minecraft Dungeons.
If you don’t now your Creeper from your Enderman, a mob from a mod or your Notch from your Steve it doesn’t really matter, as the only real semblance that this game has to Minecraft itself is that it looks blocky and features many of its creatures. Including your Creepers and your Endermen.
So, we’ve established that, unlike Minecraft, where you make the stories yourself, this one is a more structured affair. Akin to a lighter take on the genre-defining Diablo, this has a dedicated story and even cutscenes. It all revolves around an Illager named Archie who was continually shunned by Villagers all across the Overworld. One day while looking for somewhere to kip where everybody wasn’t smallminded and horrible, Archie happened upon a shiny object known as the Orb of Dominance. Its incredible magical powers corrupted Arch, and he became a bit of a vengeful tyrant. It’s up to you – or you and up to three partners – to fight the various monsters that he’s unleashed throughout the Overworld, take on the odd quest, free imprisoned Villagers and confront Archie to give him a darned good ticking off.
As is the way with such games, you start of with puny weapons and gradually work your way up to some serious power. Appropriately for a game that will likely find the majority of its audience amongst kids there’s no madly convoluted class or crafting systems at play here though. You collect close and ranged weaponry, armour and charms as you go – or you can buy some with the in-world currency emeralds from various vendors that you unlock on your travels – and you can upgrade things via enchantment.
At level select you’re advised the recommended power that you should possess before entering, so the biggest challenge to begin with in ensuring that you have the best loadout that you can muster. If you take a peashooter into any battle beyond the opening salvo here then you’re going to get hurt. Monsters abound, and they all wish to inflict pain upon your hapless avatar. However, as you progress, you’ll find the best tactics to take them out – Minecraft Dungeons strikes a decent balance between challenge and reward.
“If you take a peashooter into any battle beyond the opening salvo here then you’re going to get hurt.”
Minecraft Dungeons doesn’t offer the longest experience – you can clear the game in around four hours if you don’t stop to smell the Creepers. For added challenge you can return to previously liberated areas and ramp the difficulty level, plus playing in a group either locally or online means it all doesn’t matter as much, as it’s just a really fun blast teaming up against Archie’s playthings. Many of the levels include procedurally generated areas, too, so you’ll likely never play the exact same layoput twice.
The advantage of this newly-released Hero Edition is that you get two added DLC packs – Jungle Awakens and the newly-dropped Creeping Winter – which add new adventures, armour, weapons and artifacts. Thanks to a new update you can also now return to the game for daily trials.
A good way to look at Minecraft Dungeons is that it’s somewhat like a My First Dungeon Crawler, in that it’s a great way to introduce kids to a life of onscreen hacking and slashing. This isn’t to say that there’s a lack of challenge, however, as many adults will find themselves grumbling as they go back for more after a cursed Wraith unleashes fiery death upon them for the umpteenth time. Grumpf!
Minecraft Dungeons: Hero Edition is available now.