Released roughly a year after Notch Persson had sold the intellectual property of Minecraft to Microsoft, Telltale Games' Story Mode of the Minecraft world was made without the spirit and ambition the game's original creator had put into the project.
The gameplay is the routine point-and-click-plus-quick-time-events Telltale style. Mostly dependent on the game's story to determine its emotional intensity, how misfortunate it is then that for a game with "Story" in the title its writing is terrible; overwhelmed with cliches, predictable plot points, insubstantial characterization, dull climaxes, and "humor" so painfully weak as it panders to the sick culture of "HA THAT'S SO RANDOM" jokes. (Sub-rant: I think that "HA THAT'S SO RANDOM" humor is actually reasonable, but mislabeled. I think that what people of this culture dub as out-of-nowhere, weird, or "random" is also seen as funny because in the cases where it gets a laugh are due to what is generally provocative or shocking in the material. The "shock" is the intended punchline. So really, there's nothing "random" in successful humor, it's just successful humor; it's funny. So the way I see it, if the "shock" -- the "randomness" -- fails, it is simply bad humor.)
Following all the dead comedy is some forced drama and unconvincing action that would trouble any player of the original Minecraft game. To elaborate, there are more than several scenes of peril that could be easily dealt with by digging into the ground and hiding, or stacking yourself up high, or punching everything in your path before just running away; but in Story Mode, characters act as if they are as helpless as humans in the logic of reality... when Minecraft is clearly far from being "realistic". (And just to add insult to injury, the game's E10+ rating restricts any intense developments in the story by mature or obscene material, which is usually pretty effective at making an audience pay attention.) This is a jarring differentiation from past Telltale titles like Walking Dead or Wolf Among Us, which were written with loads of violence, bad language, and sexual references that helped keep the games unpredictable and exciting.
So with this terrible writing -- bad humor, bad drama -- the ritualistic Telltale style of gameplay moving from one stage to another felt tired and testing of patience, and in the intervals of this I was nearly falling asleep in the middle of the kiddy-level cutscenes. And while we're on the subject of cutscenes; I think what should have shut down the entire idea of a Telltale Minecraft game is how boring the Minecraft world's visuals are to behold from a viewer's -- not a player's -- standpoint. Perhaps I am one of the few who actually enjoyed Minecraft's simple graphics and visual design; I delighted in its soft lighting and subtle textures to every object and element you can find in the game-world, mainly because of the game's vast offering of all there is to play and interact with. But to view these visuals in the shoes of a voyeur rather than a player excited to work with the Minecraft world, these graphics are underwhelming to say the least. Remember how cool and iconic the visual design and animation for Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us was? How you could freeze a frame at any given moment and stare at the picture to drink in all the style, tasteful coloration, and tone just by the imagery? Well, somehow, somewhere, somebody in Telltale thought that switching to Minecraft's blockiness was a step up rather than a step down from that greatness. It is hysterical how they expect players to watch characters in the game express themselves with faces like these
and actually regard them as deep, respectable characters.
But I saved Story Mode's biggest sin for last: its linearity.
Even if a person with no experience with Minecraft at all picks up Story Mode to play a blind run, the original game has gained so much popularity as a sandbox of creativity that it is inevitable that every player following the rigid plotlines of lousy writing and bullshit gameplay will be disappointed. Minecraft was a game that offered players the freedom to build whatever you like, however you like as long as the player was willing to put forth the work required to meet the project's end. Nothing in this concept calls for a script to tie a hundred or so (boring) events all together; because in a sense players have already been making stories of their own, on their personally-made journeys to build castles made of gold, armors made of diamond, or simply surviving one more night on a starving stomach. To play Minecraft openly was the intended spirit of the game Persson created, and the sheer lengths Notch underwent to expand on that was what had made Minecraft so interesting to players in the first place.
Minecraft Story Mode only exists to market the original game to children. Games like Story Mode only sustain that twisted view of DIAs as TV-toys, which simultaneously disinterests adults from getting into the DIA culture, and makes my duty to refute this degrading label (games as "toys") all the more difficult. Minecraft Story Mode lets intellectuals witness its faults and prematurely carpet the entire gaming world as simply as: "Look, video games tried to be respectable with a story and look how it failed! Proof that video games will never work as an artistic experience."