Minecraft has been delighting gamers for years and it now has a new spin-off so sharpen your sword and let's fend off some creepers.
Last year, I reviewed Riverbond which looks a lot like Minecraft and this year, I'm reviewing Minecraft Dungeons which plays a lot like Riverbond. I think I play too many games. Anyway, for the unfamiliar, Minecraft Dungeons is a simple isometric action game with RPG elements where you use various weapons and gadgets to take out hordes of zombies, skeletons, and, of course, creepers! The core gameplay involves running around while hacking and slashing, firing arrows, using skills, and rolling out of harm's way which makes for an easy to pick-up-and-play formula so gamers of all ages can easily enjoy Minecraft Dungeons' lighthearted action. Thankfully, you can do so via local or online multiplayer with up to 4 players so prepare for your kids to constantly beg you to play with them.
Speaking of which, playing Minecraft Dungeons multiplayer is definitely the way to go although it's also a rather enjoyable game solo if you want more of a challenge. For the record, the last boss is proving to be quite a steep challenge for me to topple by myself. Whether you're playing with a close friend on the couch or 3 friends-to-be online, teaming up to take out the hordes of monsters that populate each procedurally generated stage as you carefully offer support and revive each other is a great deal of fun. With that being said, I find it strange that you can't play with a mix of local and online players which in my opinion, is a substantial missed opportunity.
Minecraft Dungeons' most rewarding aspect is its character progression system. As you defeat enemies, you'll eventually level-up and once you do, you'll earn enchantment points that you can assign to your melee and ranged weapons as well as your armor in order to unlock and upgrade passive skills. As you discover better gear, you can swap it out and salvage old gear for emeralds and you also get back all of the enchantment points that you assigned to it. These emeralds can be used at the hub area to acquire random gear and artifacts; the latter of which essentially provide active skills with cooldown periods and you can equip up to 3 of them. All of this may not be the most elaborate character progression system but it definitely got its hooks in me as I gradually became a force to be reckoned with.
The campaign in Minecraft Dungeons consists of 9 main stages that are quite lengthy and as I mentioned previously, they're procedurally generated so each run will be different to the last. Also, there are varying difficulty settings for each stage so you can increase that as you grow more powerful if you ever want to grind for better gear, etc. That being said, there certainly aren't any substantial replay incentives aside from getting better gear and the campaign is quite short as it can be completed in a few hours if you're somewhat skilled. When you combine this with the fact that the gameplay is quite basic, veteran gamers will find the whole experience to be rather hollow. Of course, kids might enjoy playing the same dungeons again and again in order to max out their characters.
It may not be as expansive or inspire as much creativity as its namesake may lead you to believe but Minecraft Dungeons is certainly a solid and enjoyable isometric action game with character progression that'll keep you hooked.
- + Easy to pick-up-and-play gameplay
- + Enjoyable local or online multiplayer
- + Rewarding character progression and challenging difficulty settings
- - Gameplay may be too basic for some gamers
- - No way to mix local and online multiplayer
- - Short and lacks substantial replay incentives