First released in 2009, Minecraft is currently the best-selling game ever. It may not be a game that pleases all players, including myself, but nobody can take away this achievement. With over 200 million copies sold worldwide, here’s another game from the Minecraft universe, although in a totally different genre than the one we all know. Its name is Minecraft Dungeons and, as its name implies, it’s a dungeon crawler with randomly generated levels, as well as its enemies. Ah, and a lot of fun too!
Minecraft Dungeons has a short story that follows us through the 10 levels of the game. It focuses on Arch-Illager, a villain who after being rejected by several populations, discovers an artifact that completely transforms him. Now, his power is immense and he uses it oppressively over the world. It’s up to us to overcome all the challenges and defeat him from his throne. Let’s be honest, no one will play this game for the sake of the narrative, only for the gameplay. Minecraft Dungeons is very straightforward, but fun. It does things in a very simply but effective way. It’s clearly a title to play preferably with friends, although it can be done solo without monotony problems.
Old formula, but always fun
In terms of gameplay, if you’ve played Diablo or Path of Exile, among so many others of the same style, then you already know what awaits you. Fight constantly against hundreds of enemies along the way and get some loot after that. Actually, the loot was something that surprised but not really in a positive way. I was expecting the enemies to leave many more weapons and equipment than actually happened. It turns out to be a balanced dose, which never leaves us lost navigating the various equipment in order to choose the best one.
Maybe to counterbalance this, we earn some money during the game, which can later be used to buy weapons, armor or special items. This can be done in our home area, a kind of hub, great for relaxing and testing equipment, as well as exploring. Some of the two areas are blocked initially and only with the progress of the game we will have access to new areas. Not being of extreme importance in the game, the zone turns out to be a funny implementation.
When it comes to game mechanics there’s a level up system, but contrary to what would be expected, there is no skill tree. On the other hand, it’s the weapons and armor that offer different abilities. Each weapon/equipment has several options to improve its efficiency. We may be talking about doing more damage, having more resistance, setting enemies on fire, regenerating health every few steps, among many other things. The possibilities are immense and it’s up to us to choose the ones that best suit our way of playing.
Each time we level up, we gain a point to apply in these improvements and we can do it without fear. This way, when we need to equip something better, we can get rid of the old equipment and recover the points to apply again. This makes our decisions much easier when it comes to equipping something superior. Along with the absence of a skill tree is also the fact that the game does not contain any kind of classes. Honestly, I don’t see this as something negative as it allows us to equip any weapon, armor or special item. The only specializations that exist are focused on the aspects I mentioned earlier. If you want something more serious or with a greater customization, then there are many other offers on the market to satisfy your desire.
Explore and you will be rewarded
The game contains 10 levels (randomly generated) and yet the visual variety is some. There are maps with a more “forest” style decoration, others with a focus on snow or desert, not forgetting the expected catacombs. When it comes to graphics, there’s not much to say, because that’s what we all know. Nevertheless, I liked some the details of the level design, which ended up being one of the factors that encouraged me to explore as much as I could.
The maps are considerably large, especially when we start to approach the last levels. Length-wise, we could be talking for 20 to 30 minutes, or even longer if you try to explore everything. Speaking of exploration, there are obviously the famous special areas and most of them are hidden from the main path. To access them, you have to explore more remote areas. In these special sections, new challenges will be waiting for you with good rewards.
The game makes sure to point us in the right direction but we also have a map to know which areas are still to be explored. The map can be activated while we play, although it stays right in the middle of the screen and can be a bit disturbing. The map can be accessed by clicking down on the D-Pad, but if you keep pressing, the game will end up in the map menu itself. I don’t think there is an option for it to appear somewhere in the game’s hud.
As for the sound, the music does the job quite well, both in more relaxed places and in battles against some bosses. The music that goes on while we’re in our home area is also very therapeutic and the ideal recipe for lowering mission stress levels. Other than that, the special effects are as expected, without there being something worth highlighting.
Different difficulty levels
Quite honestly, I was hoping the game would last a little longer in terms of story. It’s just the 10 levels I mentioned earlier and can be completed in about 5 to 6 hours. However, once the main course is finished, the game unlocks a new difficulty so you can play the levels again with an extra challenge. Enemies do more damage and there are more of them, among other things. Only after finishing all levels again in this second difficulty, the game will unlock a third option for the more resistant ones. In addition to the overall difficulty, it is possible to change the difficulty of the level itself, either to make it more accessible or demanding. Of course this will have a direct impact on your experience points as well as rewards. The game always warns you whether your power (accumulated total of the various equipment) is advisable for that level or not. With this, you will always know if you’re actual level will be enough or not for the challenge ahead.
Still on the subject of difficulty, the game gives us 3 chances to resurrect if we are defeated. Regarding boss battles, even if we die during the fight, their life bar will be exactly the same when we return. This clearly shows that this is a game for fun, without high levels of stress. Still, if you increase the level of difficulty, expect huge challenges to complete a mission.
As I mentioned before, this is a great game to play with friends. We can do it on our own couch with 3 more friends (if you have a big enough couch) or online. Please note that the game only allows you to play with friends, there is no option to join a match with strangers. It turns out to be a peculiar but perfectly acceptable decision.
As for technical problems, fortunately I don’t have much to complain about the game. I had the opportunity to review the title on the PC and it ran without any kind of problems, which nowadays is something notorious.
Minecraft Dungeons turned out to be the game I expected. Even though it didn’t innovate at all, it ended up offering the relaxed and fun experience I wanted. The gameplay is quite accessible and everything is very simple. The levels are fun to explore and even though the loot isn’t as much as I’d hoped it would be, it pays off when you’re at home and have two vendors waiting for your coins. In terms of main content, the game ends up being a little shorter. However, unlocking new difficulty levels and the willingness to get better equipment and explore everything, turns out to be enough incentive to repeat the levels over and over again.
Simple and fun
Visual level design
Different difficulty levels (need to be unlocked)
Randomly generated levels (some)
Weapons and equipment for (almost) all tastes
Few base levels (though many others are randomly generated)
The enemies could drop more loot
Release Date: 26 May 2020
Developer: Mojang Studios
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Genre: Action, RPG
Platforms: Playstation, Xbox One, Windows, Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Microsoft Portugal.