Minecraft Dungeons review
Minecraft Dungeons works very well as a first approach to the dungeon crawler, but it lacks depth to squeeze its potential.
Although Minecraft is a name associated with creativity and experimentation, Mojang seems to have had some reluctance to take his IP to other territories; Telltale tried its luck with the Story Mode and Earth has brought the universe to Augmented Reality, but the time to launch a new title has been delayed a decade: initially conceived as an experiment to create a new Minecraft experience on Nintendo 3DS, Dungeons is has ended up becoming the first major spin-off created within Mojang itself.
Minecraft Dungeons begins when a villager outcast by his fellows finds an orb that grants him great powers, with which he rises as an Arch Kindling and proceeds to attack the lands of the villagers. Our role is that of a group of heroes who resist the invasion and who will have to advance against hordes of enemies in various biomes of the well-known universe created by Mojang.
The studio’s approach to the dungeon crawler has gone through creating an adventure above all accessible and easy to control. We have a melee attack and a ranged attack, three artifacts that grant us special abilities, a button to dodge and another to heal us. The arrows are the only consumables that can be depleted, the rest work by cooldown.
Dungeons is played slightly differently with keyboard / mouse and controller. In the first case, it is played more like a classic Diablo, associating both movement and mouse attacks, while in command a control scheme more similar to a twin-stick shooter is chosen, although strangely the right stick is not associated with the weapon at a distance but to dodge, since the aiming is automatic and depends on the direction in which we are looking. In both cases, a couple of extra customization options would be useful, such as adding the possibility of using the right stick to launch arrows on the controller or using WASD to move on PC.
There are no default classes in the game; our build depends entirely on the objects that we equip ourselves. In fact, the points that we obtain when leveling up do not increase the character’s statistics, but rather serve to grant all kinds of special characteristics to weapons through “enchantments”. It’s a system that in theory should allow for quite a bit of flexibility in testing setups, but having to destroy enchanted weapons to regain points works against you. The loot cycle is affected by this system, since you have to be very clear about it before making a change, especially when the choice of team can vary the approach to the meetings.
Taking into account that the game chooses to eliminate one of the pillars of the original, such as construction, it would have been a wise decision to bet everything on creativity with team builds and the variety of approaches to combat. The enchantment system ends up being too rigid; Instead of promoting experimentation, it causes us to cling to a few pieces of equipment and creates a certain fear of change.
When it comes to making the experience more flexible, what works best is that each level can be completed with a multitude of difficulties; We can launch ourselves without problem to try our luck against enemies well above our theoretical possibilities to get better loot or lower the level of demand if we want to play more slowly. In the first bars it is advisable to raise the level of difficulty if we do not want to get bored, but the challenge escalates better when we reach the two levels of New Game + (Adventure and Nightmare).
It is a pity that this increase in difficulty is almost always limited to disproportionately increasing the damage we receive and the number of enemies with ranged attacks that await us in each room, generating situations where we can be conservative (activate artifacts, deal damage, retreat, heal while we wait for the cooldown to finish) is by far the most effective, when the variety of enemies should lead to more interesting and strategic encounters. In fact, at higher levels it is all too common to lose a life in a couple of quick attacks without having the margin of maneuver to dodge them.
Most normal enemies either fall for us without consideration or stay in place shooting arrows, but support classes add variety to situations: Enchanters, who improve enemy stats, or Geomancers, who are capable of building walls and summoning explosive blocks, make us change the mentality of the button crusher for a few seconds and assign priorities. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, and it’s a shame because the game has plenty of iconic enemies to craft more interesting encounters than those proposed in the game.
The encounters with bosses and sub-bosses raise the difficulty one point, but it gives the feeling that they are designed to be played against them cooperatively and not alone. As a general rule they are heavier than difficult (in the Apocalypse difficulty they are both); they spend more time summoning minions than attacking directly and are more fun when we have an artifact to call a creature that attracts their attention for a few moments.
These heads are closing at levels that can last almost half an hour. Although they have a certain factor of randomness, especially in the enemies, it would be good for him to lose himself a little in the situations that he presents, since a large number of sections are identical from one game to another even if we change mode. It is sufficient basis so that it does not get tired in the three passes at each level that the game proposes to us at the beginning, but it may fall short if its objective is that we return from time to time with friends.
It is one of the examples of the lack of depth of the Minecraft Dungeons systems, although with what it puts on the table it should not be like that. It has a variety of melee and ranged weapons, a multitude of enemies with different attack dynamics, artifacts of all kinds, scenarios with traps and other peculiarities … but the shape of the maps, the routines of the enemies and the rigidity of the system Equipment allow encounters to be resolved in a repetitive manner.
The precedents of Minecraft itself inspire us to think that the game will not remain static and that it will change a lot in the coming months; Dungeons has room to refine its different aspects and become a more complex game without betraying its essence of experience accessible to everyone. At the moment it already has a couple of DLC scheduled that will add new areas, so there will be support for a while.
Speaking of landscapes, it’s worth stopping for a few scenes that take full advantage of the Minecraft flair and leave beautiful images in places like the Redstone Mines. In addition, the game has several aces up its sleeve in the form of secrets that await those who explore the scenarios in depth, with rewards ranging from better equipment to several hidden levels that the player who follows the arrows will never find.
Minecraft Dungeons is ideal as an approach to the dungeon crawler: easy to handle, simple and with a scalable difficulty. Ideally, it would grow in complexity as the player gains confidence, but it falls short in this regard and their encounters end up becoming repetitive over time. It does not mean that the game is very entertaining, especially in company; We also hope that over time it will bring out its full potential.