Minecraft Dungeons review – Cubic diablo
Minecraft Dungeons is a simple dungeon crawler, with a funny look, but with little content and variety.
Given that Microsoft bought Minecraft for more than $ 2 billion in 2014, I am surprised that it is taking so long to explore the property outside of its traditional concept. Minecraft Dungeons is one of the results of that first “expedition”, launched in order to explore the viability of Minecraft in other genres, in this specific case, in the genre of dungeon crawlers (I would like to recall that we previously had Minecraft: Story Mode, developed by the extinct Telltale Games). Developed by Mojang, with the help of the British from Double Eleven, Minecraft Dungeons does not hide its inspiration in the classic dungeon crawlers.
From the original Minecraft concept, little is left. You still have the retro-cubic look that characterizes the property as well as some weapons and tools, but in the end, it is a very different game from the original, without any type of associated construction. In this game, with support for cooperative mode for four players, you will explore dungeons with the mission of defeating Arch-Illager. In the past, he was a simple inhabitant of a village, but after being ridiculed by the other inhabitants, he left in search of a new home and ended up finding the Orb of Dominance. Using the power of this artifact, he returns to his village to take revenge and create an army by subduing people against their will.
The tones of the narrative and the accessibility itself – it is a very simple game to assimilate – point out that the main audience is children. The game is positioned as an entry point for the genre of dungeon crawlers, not being as complex as other examples of the genre such as Diablo, Torchlight or Divinity. On the one hand, this is positive because you can play casually, but on the other, it can become too simple a game, losing its appeal very quickly. This is what happened to me. Although you unlock higher difficulties after beating the final boss, Minecraft Dungeons’ excessive simplicity does not make it an appealing game in the medium or long term.
Minecraft on the outside, little soul on the inside
Bearing in mind that Minecraft has such peculiar and profound mechanics, I am surprised that none of this has been used for Minecraft Dungeons. A very concrete example is the TNT cube that you occasionally encounter after defeating an enemy. One would expect that this explosive cube would serve to solve puzzles or open secret doors destroying parts of the scene, but it is nothing more than a tool to blow up large groups of enemies. From the first times I met TNT, I still tried to observe the scenery carefully and try to figure out if I could blow something up and discover a secret, but after several attempts, I realized that it was not for this purpose. It is really just a combat tool.
In the PC version, which was the platform for the review, the controls are easy to see. You move by clicking the mouse cursor where you want to go. The mouse also serves to attack enemies when they are close, while the right button serves to shoot arrows. Still in the controls, the space bar is used to roll around and evade attacks, and the “E” key to drink a potion that restores your health. The combat system is complemented by three artifacts that you can equip. These artifacts, which are manually activated and have a certain amount of time to be reloaded, can be things like flaming arrows, lightning bolts, fishing rods that pull enemies towards you, and spells that stun enemies. Customizing the character’s combat style is complemented by choosing a weapon for short distances, a weapon for long distances, and armor.
Weapons have different types of rarities and effects that can be unlocked and evolved with the points you always earn by leveling up the character. These effects also exist in armor and allow you to build very simple. Despite this, the gameplay is still repetitive, a feeling that is amplified by the very lack of variety of levels (there is visual variety, but the content is basically the same) and of opponents. Again, the game could have been much more interesting if the Minecraft concepts had been combined with the genre of dungeon crawlers to create a unique game. Instead, we have a game that is the same as so many others (and more basic), the only difference is even the characteristic look of Minecraft.
A polished game, but lacking content
One of the things that Mojang implemented, perhaps to add more variety, was to generate the dungeons by algorithm. In other words, the dungeons keep the same name and visual theme, but the route changes whenever you enter. As the game always indicates where you should go to complete the dungeon, it is easy to see which are the alternative routes that can take you to a loot chest or an emerald jar (which are used to buy equipment from the vendors at your base). Despite this randomness associated with dungeons, you never get the feeling that you are taking a completely new level. You feel that it is the same level, but with small variations. As some levels have secrets associated, with these small variations these secrets can also change places.
It is impossible to say that this is a bad game, because it is not. From the first minute you can see that Mojang polished a lot of Minecraft Dungeons and the whole action takes place very smoothly. In total, there are 10 Dungeons to explore (+1 secret level). It is not a long game, and although the idea is to repeat these dungeons in higher difficulties – the idea of repetition in higher difficulties is very much associated with the genre – when you get to the end of the game you get a feeling of dissatisfaction. The content is low and the introduction of variety stagnates in the middle. For a game from a property as popular as this, and having Mojang’s own finger, you would expect something more robust. The game does not bring anything new or exciting to the genre, quite the contrary, and despite that initial grace caused by the Minecraft look, it failed to convince and captivate.