Minecraft Dungeons is a hack and slash dungeon crawler which has been released across all platforms as of May 26th and is also available on the subscription based Xbox Game Pass. I’ve been playing for around 18 hours now on the Xbox One X, played a solid mix of solo/multiplayer games and completed the game three times on various difficulties to unlock all 24 achievements.
After putting in all of this time to fully complete Minecraft Dungeons, what did I think and is it worth your time and money?
The story begins with a young villager who was unable to fit in and conform with his society, because of all the bullying he received he left his village and came across a powerful artefact which grants him power to exact revenge on those who picked on him. You play as a hero who has to stop him and save the world.
The narrative unfolds with cutscenes at the beginning of each of the games levels and while it’s quite simple, it’s a charming story which is brought to a satisfying conclusion. It’s incredibly fitting for its intended audience. The first playthrough on Normal difficulty can take anywhere between 3 – 5 hours.
While the narrative is quite light-touch and charming, the focus here is on the games combat and progression. The gameplay loop can best be described with “Gear up, vanquish foes and collect loot”, my only gripe with this system is that sometimes it feels uncomfortable. You’re almost forced to experiment with a variety of equipment as the loot through the game is randomly generated. It’s fun but the tempo of combat will fluctuate if you start using something that doesn’t fit with your playstyle.
I was surprised at the sheer amount of equipment which is available in the game, you can have anything from swords to glaives, daggers to hammers. Each weapon type plays differently to each other all with unique animations. You’re also able to find and use artefacts, which act like skills in other games. These can range from having items that allow you to heal, shoot fireworks and place down a protective barrier – There’s a lot of room available to piece together builds and players who are playing in Co-op, can fulfil specific roles such as a tank or DPS.
What sets the game apart from others in the genre are enchantments. As you level, you will be granted an enhancement point which can be spent on a weapon or armour piece to give it an additional effect, this can range from burning enemies, increasing damage or placing thorns on your armour. As all loot is randomised, so are the enchantments available on each set and if you’ve spent all of your points on gear but have just found an upgrade, that’s okay. You can salvage your gear which will return all spent enchantment points. I have a habit of just charging in and fighting enemies, increasing my attack speed along with the ability to leech their health to replenish my own was an absolute lifesaver.
Before you start an adventure, you are in your camp which has access to a map but overtime you will start to gain access to a blacksmith and there are other secrets which become available. Using your map, you select which level you want to do and originally this unlocks in a linear fashion, you can come back in other difficulties to increase the unlocked rewards. There aren’t a lot of levels available but coming back later, you can unlock smaller side levels. My favourite one so far is finding a map on a pirate ship, this unlocks a new level where you explore a pirate safe haven.
Each level is themed and is oozing with Minecraft charm, with each level having it’s unique feel. You’ll find yourself fighting off creepers and zombies in Creeper Woods, to the illuminated depths of the Fiery Forge and slaying golems. There’s a lot to uncover across the 9 levels originally available in the game.
While fighting your way through hordes of familiar Minecraft enemies, you’re going to eventually want to backtrack and redo levels for loot or to push forward on higher difficulties and while the main set pieces of the levels are the same, the way you get to them is randomised making those retreads a lot less repetitive but afterwhile these pieces do start to become a little too similar.
With the Minecraft franchise growing as it has over the last ten years, it’s appropriate then for Minecraft Dungeons to bleed into different genres and while what is on offer here feels shallow – It’s a solid foundation to be built upon. My hope is that Dungeons is going to evolve and become an entirely different beast over the years, very much like the original has – I’m excited to see what happens next.
With everything being said, Minecraft Dungeon is an easily accessible Dungeon Crawler and while you might say that means it’s a game for children, I’m very satisfied as an 31 year old male.
7 / 10