Minecraft Dungeons is a fun little dungeon crawler that Minecraft fans will love. However, dungeon-crawlers shouldn’t get too excited. It’s short and sweet, fun exploration. Although the combat can become repetitive and the game’s variety can blur into chaos at the end, we enjoyed the ride.
Minecraft Dungeons feels like Legoland. This is not just due to the blocky aesthetic. It’s a day at Legoland, because it looks great and seems like there are endless possibilities. But you soon realize that it’s just the same thing over and over. It doesn’t seem like it can do anything with its ideas after a few levels. While it will be enjoyed by Minecraft fans, it is likely to be a decent spin-off rather than a credible next step.
You play as a silent hero and are flat in all ways, except your blocky dimensions. As you navigate through various dungeons, you must defeat Illager and his minions. You have a limited number of melee, ranged, and magical weapons to help you fight off the many enemies as you explore the dungeons. There are a few caves/mines in these dungeons, but you can also find snowy tundras, murky swamps, and scorching deserts. The basic task is to get to the end of each level.
Rinse, lather, repeat
There is a lot to choose from on a surface level. There are nine levels, each with its own unique challenges. As the game progresses, the enemies become more creative and intense. The first game will have you running up to them and trying to punch you. Later, you will face archers and golems as well as wizards and wizards. This forces you to shift your strategy from simple hack-and-slash button mashing, to something more tactical, which includes healing, ranged weapons and artifact bonuses.
Minecraft Dungeons (Download at Amazon for $19.99) You can’t upgrade weapons. This means you might lose attacks as your skills improve and outgrow them. Also, you can’t use ranged weapons while you’re holding a projectile. These little problems can really slow you down, given how chaotic battles can be.
You’ll also notice that the levels are almost identical, but with different clothing. Most weapons can be obtained early, but they have better stats later. While enemies do show some growth, they can also cast spells that prevent you from escaping, the game itself does not. It’s a lot like the scene in Inception where Tom Hardy tells Joseph Gordon Levitt that he doesn’t mind dreaming bigger. Then it turns out that his bigger dream is… a stronger gun. You just get more enemies in one go, and the game calls it progress. This is even more evident if you play on a harder difficulty.
The game has a sliding difficulty system that suggests a default level based upon your current power and then offers you difficulties slightly higher or lower. The game locks out the easiest difficulties, so you have to play against more difficult enemies as you progress. While we played the game as it suggested, it is worth noting that this game isn’t too easy for those who are looking for fun.
Co-op can be especially helpful when things get tough. The game can be played online or locally, but not both. Microsoft promised cross-platform support for the launch, but it was not available at the time we wrote this review.
Each level ends in a similar fashion. You can either fight a boss or a large wave swarm, sometimes even both. This is a common convention in dungeon-crawlers, but Minecraft Dungeons has a problem. It reuses bosses even within nine levels.
Redstone Golem is often overused in the final stretch. The waves use the same tactics, and except for a few bosses who think outside the box, winning the same battles over and again feels less like an accomplishment than a chore. It’s not easy to enjoy grinding at the worst of times. Minecraft Dungeons makes it seem like you’re actually grinding the first time.
Although it isn’t the most popular dungeon crawler, it is a Minecraft game. For some players, that’s the deciding factor. Although we only get a brief narration and characterization, it captures the essence Minecraft. It feels authentic and has a great tone. There are many references to classic Minecraft elements.
Enderman is a riff of Slenderman that will attack you in Minecraft if your face is directly at him. He appears as a sporadic boss, appearing in most levels at the mid-point. The screen blurs, he screeches and teleports around you, all part of his mission to sell his aesthetic. It’s a nuisance that he appears far too often for non-fans, but it shows that the game was made with love.
This game is too short and takes too much time. It’s not that it shouldn’t be shorter, you have to beat it in four to five hours, and probably less in coop. But the game’s structure feels flawed.
The platforming in the later game is quite impressive. You must avoid rotating blades, slamming doorways, and hop on springboards. It’s worth putting a little more effort into this. It might have felt more fresher to have a few desert levels that are shorter than the one in the swamp. You can find maps to side caves in the main levels. These side caves are refreshing and new and felt fresh even after the main quests ended.
Minecraft Dungeons is a solid title, but it’s disappointing that there’s not much variety, especially towards the end. Even though the levels retain their originality, enemies start to merge into one.
It’s a great game with a five-hour run time. Minecraft Dungeons is a great way to have fun with friends. It’s a Minecraft dungeon-crawler at the end of it all. Go crazy if you’re buying it to play the first part. You might wait until the second part is on sale if you’re purchasing it.
How to download Minecraft for PCStacey, a freelance journalist, has experience in OpEds and interviews, as well as reporting features and video. She has previously written for The Washington Post and EuroGamer, Fandom, Polygon and EuroGamer.