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Minecraft screenshots photo
Minecraft screenshots

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 3 screenshots, we got 'em

Look at last
Nov 24
// Darren Nakamura
The third episode for Minecraft: Story Mode is out today, and it's actually not half bad. I think I took more screenshots this time around than in the first two episodes as a result. Going through these after the fact, it's o...

Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: The Last Place You Look

Nov 24 // Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: The Last Place You Look (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: November 24, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit After having found Ellegaard the redstone engineer and Magnus the griefer in the previous episode, the gang needed only to locate Soren the architect for the full original Order of the Stone to be accounted for. The journey to find Soren takes the party to some peculiar locations, most located in The End. However, since Soren is a master builder, the areas highlighted are more diverse than the typical darkness of The End. Between Soren's feats of engineering in the overworld and colorful constructions in The End, it's a nice nod to Minecraft proper players who are known to build some of the craziest things. Soren himself is a much more likable character than some of the other members of the Order of the Stone. Where Ellegaard and Magnus were basically insufferable (especially after they were brought together), Soren is quirky and at times genuinely funny. Voiced by John Hodgman, he's neurotic and paranoid, but still fun to be around. [embed]321869:61211:0[/embed] Overall, the quality of the writing has taken a half-step up from the previous two episodes. None of the jokes elicited any sustained belly laughs, but I did let out a few snorts and chuckles along the way. The Last Place You Look started up a running gag where Axel falls on top of Lukas repeatedly, which happens just enough to be comical without getting tired. Some of the seeds of drama sown in previous episodes have begun to sprout, and while it still maintains the kid-friendly narrative, it's finally beginning to feel like the events happening matter and Jesse has an important role to play. The greatest success of The Last Place You Look is that it allows the player to feel accomplished while still moving the narrative along. This is, after all, only the third episode in a five-episode season, so anybody who knows Telltale knows everything won't be resolved here. But even so, the climax of this episode feels like a high point for the team. Sure, they're not done with their mission, but they did something, at least. There's never really any downtime during this episode either. Though there are a few sections of walking around and talking or searching for clues, they all serve a purpose and generally lead to action sequences. The first action sequence in particular is probably the best so far in the series, melding the fantastic environments, a sense of danger, and the classic Telltale decision-making into a tight opening credit roll. One thing that might turn some off is the quiet lowering of the bar for success during the action sequences. Some of the quick-time events seem more demanding here than usual, but I noticed after I flubbed a button press or two, the resulting animation didn't seem to react accordingly. Perhaps it takes multiple failures in a single section to make a difference. More experimentation is necessary. As much as I may praise The Last Place You Look, it is with respect to the first two episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode. It definitely is an improvement, but an improvement from mediocrity is just okay. The comedy is slightly improved, but still doesn't hold a candle to that of Tales from the Borderlands. The characters are becoming easier to sympathize with, but they aren't are interesting as those from The Wolf Among Us. The drama is beginning to heat up, but it doesn't come close to what we saw in The Walking Dead. Perhaps it's unfair to compare Minecraft: Story Mode to Telltale's more adult-oriented series. This is built for a particular demographic, and it seems like it's really hitting with that audience. The Last Place You Look is more of the same -- and slightly better, if anything -- so those who have enjoyed the series thus will be pleased to just keep on trucking. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Minecraft review photo
Looking up
Minecraft: Story Mode didn't impress me with its first two episodes. Aimed at young players and Minecraft super fans, its writing didn't have a whole lot going for it past its Saturday morning cartoon plot and series in-jokes...

Republique photo

Republique is coming to the PS4 in physical form

Episodes 4 and 5 still aren't out
Nov 20
// Chris Carter
Republique is such a weird project. It was released on iOS in December of 2013, as an episodic series spanning five chapters. Episode 4 and 5 still have not been released to this day, but the franchise made the jump to PC, an...
Game of Thrones Season 2 photo
Game of Thrones Season 2

Telltale's Game of Thrones is getting a second season

Surprise, surprise
Nov 20
// Darren Nakamura
After finishing the season finale for Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series, I had my suspicions that it was all setting up for an inevitable second season. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Telltale CEO Kevin Bruner co...

Minecraft: Story Mode photo
Minecraft: Story Mode

Minecraft: Story Mode keeps up its brisk schedule with Episode 3 out next week

The Last Place You Look
Nov 19
// Darren Nakamura
This minecart just keeps on a-rollin' (whether we care about it or not). After having met up with and then subsequently lost track of Ellegaard and Magnus in Assembly Required, the team is now searching out the fourth member ...
Rayman Adventures photo
Rayman Adventures

Next month's Rayman looks great, I'll probably never play it

Coming December 3 to little fanfare
Nov 18
// Steven Hansen
People have said nothing but good things about Rayman Jungle Run and the third mobile Rayman game using the same assets (after Fiesta Run), Rayman Adventures, looks great. And while Jungle Run was limited as an endless runne...

Review: Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series: The Ice Dragon

Nov 17 // Darren Nakamura
Game of Thrones - A Telltale Game Series: The Ice Dragon (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: November 17, 2015MSRP: $4.99 (episode), $29.99 (season)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit The reason I'm being so cavalier with discussing in general terms how my story ended -- spoilers be damned -- is that other players might see things play out quite differently. It took the whole season to make good on the promises that we may shape the future of House Forrester, but The Ice Dragon finally introduces significant divergence. Important characters may live or die, depending on not only the choices presented in this episode, but also on those made earlier. With Asher joining Rodrik and the convergence of those two paths at the end of A Nest of Vipers, more time can be spent on each individual thread. Up north, Gared and company finally make it to the North Grove. Down south, Mira learns who had been conspiring against her. Nestled in the middle of it all is the drama in Ironrath, with the Whitehills mounting up for war against the Forresters. Gared's path is probably the most disappointing of the three. After five episodes wondering what the significance of the North Grove is, I was hoping for a revelation when he finally made it. The main concrete takeaway is that it's important and must be protected, but precisely why is up for debate. [embed]321059:61115:0[/embed] What makes Gared's journey to the North Grove sting so much as a part of the story of the Forresters is that it feels like he made no measurable impact on any other section. The final recap does hint that he might have been a bigger player in the grand scheme if I had made different choices, but my personal Gared could have been cut from the story entirely and it would have made no difference. In contrast, Mira's scheming in King's Landing is at least mentioned by the characters on the home front. She may not have had any concrete effects on the conflict at Ironrath, but her path still feels important in the overall narrative. In Sons of Winter, I was so pleased with myself for winning a war of words as Mira. I was shrewd and calculating, manipulating the situation to get exactly what I wanted. Somewhere along the line I lost that slyness and turned into a softie, and Mira paid for it. I can't say I'm happy with how Mira turns out at the end of this episode, but I don't think I'd be particularly pleased with the possible alternatives either. Of course, the main action is at Ironrath, where the Whitehills have mounted up for war against the Forresters. There were hints in this episode at a possible diplomatic solution, but as Asher and his band of gladiators, battle seemed like the most appropriate option. The climactic scene is probably the most brutal in any Telltale game to date. There was figurative backstabbing followed by literal backstabbing. There was frontstabbing. There was sidestabbing. There was ramming a greatsword into someone's mouth and out the back of his head. Good lord, there was a lot of stabbing. It fits the universe perfectly, in that in one fell swoop a dozen named characters meet their ends, and the whole time I'm watching in horror, muttering obscenities to myself and wishing thing weren't the way they are. Valar morghulis: all men must die; fans of the source are well-versed in that concept, but it hurts more when it's my men dying. There may still be a glimmer of hope for the Forresters, despite being broken, beaten, battered, and beheaded. The finale leaves a few loose ends open (possibly for a second season), but the family as we have known it is done. In a way, I'm almost pleased the story finishes the way it does. In Iron From Ice, I noted the similarities between the Forrester clan and the more famous Starks. I realize now that I modeled my Forresters' behavior after them as well. I fought with honor and I did the right thing, though it eventually spelled my own doom. I can take solace in the moral victory. The Ice Dragon caps off a year of fretting and worrying. Telltale's take on Game of Thrones has been spot-on in that regard. Now that it's over it's almost a relief, even with a bleak end. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Game of Thrones review photo
A chilling finale
In my review for The Lost Lords, the second episode of Game of Thrones, I lamented that I was making all the wrong decisions and that my version of House Forrester was doomed. With The Ice Dragon wrapping up the series, my pr...

Game of Thrones trailer photo
Game of Thrones trailer

The Game of Thrones finale trailer hopes you have been following along

Spoilers abound
Nov 16
// Darren Nakamura
Don't watch the trailer below if you aren't caught up with the first five episodes of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series. It highlights a lot of the major choices from the previous episodes, including the one right at th...

Hearthstone's League of Explorers is probably my favorite adventure yet

Nov 12 // Chris Carter
Blizzard is trying something slightly different this time. Instead of the typical five-wing setup, there's only four, and it actually works out better for me personally. As a result, the price is dropped from $24.99 to $19.99, which is a bit more digestible. With one less wing, it's one less week to wait for each part to unlock. Plus it delivers more cards in the long run, with 45 in all, including some legendaries. The missions are a bit more inventive, too. The first quest involves a genie who grants you wishes each turn in the form of cards that you can spend for zero mana; these grant you random rewards, which are not bound to your current deck or class. The second fight is with an Anubis-like boss who holds an immunity staff, forcing players to attack it to gain its power -- and then defend it at all costs. But the third quest is by far my favorite, and probably the most original encounter yet. Framed around an escape from a crumbling temple, you have 10 turns to survive, essentially. What unfolds from there is a choose your own adventure of sorts, where you can pick from one of two buffs, or in some cases, two bad choices (take five damage now, or go for a 50% chance to take 10 damage, or none at all). It's really, really fun, and although I didn't have to make a specific deck to best it, I opted to replay it multiple times with different choices just to see how it played out. Class challenges are back too, with the Warrior and Warlock variety available as of today. They also reward you with cards.  [embed]320554:61090:0[/embed] League of Explorer's story remains tongue-in-cheek the entire time, and it looks like each wing will feature a different adventurer guiding you along the way. The first is led by Reno (third from the left in the above picture), who is a clear Indiana Jones reference, mixed with a bit of Kronk from Emperor's New Groove for good measure. Blizzard is also teasing an overarching storyline featuring the Staff of Origination, which you build piece by piece during each episode. Right now, only the first wing is open, with the others set to arrive over the course of the next three weeks. Once all of them are available, I'll provide a full review of the expansion.
Hearthstone DLC photo
45 new cards in all
Blizzard does a great job with its single-player expansions for Hearthstone. I dug Naxxramas despite the high price point, and I really enjoyed Blackrock. League of Explorers, by comparison, is a bit less straight-faced, aping films like Indiana Jones at every turn, and it's all the better for it.

Spyjinx photo

J.J. Abrams and Chair are making a spy game

Nov 11
// Jordan Devore
The director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Trek is teaming up with the studio behind Infinity Blade and Shadow Complex for an "action-strategy" espionage title called Spyjinx. The creators at Bad Robot Interactive ...
Game of Thrones screens photo
Game of Thrones screens

First screens for Game of Thrones finale are non-canon (for me)

Gared fights a claymation bear
Nov 11
// Darren Nakamura
The long-awaited season finale for Telltale's Game of Thrones series following House Forrester is almost here. It releases next week, but today we have a few tastes of what to expect. Mira looks like she's in trouble with the...
BeatNiks photo

Harmonix just released a music-powered virtual pet called BeatNiks

Beans, beans, the musical fruit
Nov 05
// Darren Nakamura
Harmonix sure has diversified in the past five years. Sure, the studio just released Rock Band 4 and it focuses on interacting with music in all of its games, but with stuff like Chroma and A City Sleeps, it has gone further ...
Ghost Trick iOS photo
Ghost Trick iOS

Ghost Trick is back up on Apple's App Store

Now compatible with iOS9
Nov 04
// Darren Nakamura
A few months ago, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective was removed from sale on Apple's App Store due to compatibility issues with iOS9. That in itself didn't make a whole lot of waves, but then last month it was removed completely...
Neko Atsume photo
Neko Atsume

Super cute Japanese cat-collecting game now in English

Neko Atsume!
Nov 02
// Jordan Devore
Step 1: Place playthings and snacks in your yard. Step 2: Wait for cats to visit! That's advice for Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector (iOS, Android) and life in general. As of a recent update, the Japanese app is now also in Engli...

Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: Assembly Required

Nov 02 // Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: Assembly Required (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: October 27, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit The one big risk Telltale took with this episode was hinted at the end of The Order of the Stone. Depending on whether players choose to side with Olivia and seek out Ellegaard or to side with Axel and look for Magnus, the entire first act of the episode will play out totally differently. On the one hand, it's a bold step forward for Telltale, which is often criticized for touting its choice-based gameplay while delivering roughly the same story to everybody regardless of the decisions made. With the choice of Ellegaard vs. Magnus, the consequences were immediate and impactful, affecting a huge chunk of this episode. The final outcome might not be any different, but the journey certainly is. On the other hand, it provides for an experience uneven among players. The first half of the episode takes about 40 minutes to get through, and most people will only see one of the two segments. It stings a little because I chose to find Ellegaard, but was later led to believe that the Magnus section is the more entertaining of the two. If nothing else, it might convince me to start up a second save file just to see what I missed. [embed]318431:60938:0[/embed] Speaking of Ellegaard and Magnus, both characters are fairly unlikable. Ellegaard is haughty and aloof and Magnus is snide and combative. It creates a conflict between the two that might serve a narrative purpose in the future, but mostly just makes me wish I could have chosen neither of them right now. That turns out not to matter much, since both make an exit not long into the collective journey and bring the group back down to the core members again. Just when Story Mode threatens to feature a real, interesting human moment, the action leading to the episode's climax starts up, postponing the good stuff until a future episode. The cast continues to perform adequately. Each of the characters has his or her own distinct personality, and the actors deliver well enough. The writing is still falling flat for me. Things are happening, the narrative is progressing, but it's just not especially good yet. None of the jokes made me laugh. None of the drama made me think. After two episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode, I find myself struggling to care. It's a story and I am experiencing it, but that's the best I can muster. It's not bad enough that I'm dreading having to play three more episodes, but it's not good enough that I'm looking forward to it either. It could cease to exist and I would be utterly unfazed. There is some hope for the future of the series, as Assembly Required has planted some interesting seeds of what's to come, but it's not quite there yet. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Minecraft review photo
The story is building...
Telltale fans have grown accustomed to a two-to-four month wait between episodes. So when the studio surprise launched Assembly Required just two weeks after The Order of the Stone, it caught everybody off guard. Even though ...

Mushihimesama photo

Cave's Bug Princess is currently free on iOS

Grab it before November 2
Oct 30
// Kyle MacGregor
Degica is releasing one of Cave's classic shooters Mushihimesama on Steam next week, but, in the meantime, the mobile version of the game (Bug Princess) is available for free on the App Store. It's a limited-time offer, thoug...
WayForward photo

One of WiiWare's best games is now on mobile

WayForward's Lit is back on iOS, Android
Oct 29
// Kyle MacGregor
WiiWare may not be fondly remembered by many, but for years Nintendo's old digital platform was one of my favorite places to discover hidden gems. In fact, some of my favorite games from the last generation (Lost Winds, ...
Titanfall mobile photo
Titanfall mobile

Titanfall on MY phone? It's more likely than you think

Prepare for titansmall
Oct 29
// Darren Nakamura
Titanfall might not have made as big of a splash as it wanted, with its Call of Duty-but-with-mechs gameplay, but it has its following. Those who just can't get enough of the "expansive sci-fi universe" of Titanfall at home m...
Nintendo mobile photo
Nintendo mobile

Nintendo's first mobile app is Miitomo

Releasing next year
Oct 28
// Jordan Devore
Nintendo is finally entering the mobile space with DeNA. Its first app to come out of the collaboration, Miitomo, is a Mii-centric free-to-play title about communicating with others. Miitomo was originally scheduled to launch...
Telltale photo

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 2 stealth launches today

Wow, that was fast
Oct 27
// Laura Kate Dale
[Update: While we were initially told by a Telltale staff member that the EU release of episode two was being held until Friday, it now appears the digital EU release date is in fact today.] In an unexpected surprise mov...
KONAMI photo

Konami's new Bomberman is for smartphones

Because of course it is
Oct 25
// Kyle MacGregor
My morning ritual involves waking up, wiping the sleep out of my eyes, coming to the realization that I have survived another night, and busting open the laptop to read all the hot Japanese video game news that happened while...
Gunboots photo

Without gunboots, Downwell was an altogether different game

Peek at this prototype
Oct 21
// Jordan Devore
Slowly but surely, Downwell is taking over our staff. As it well should -- it's fantastic! It might not look the part at first glance, but get your hands on this game (preferably with a controller), and you'll see why it's in...

Review: Tales from the Borderlands: The Vault of the Traveler

Oct 20 // Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: The Vault of the Traveler (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: October 20, 2015 (Mac, PC, PS3, PS4)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit [Editor's note: there will be no major spoilers present for the episode reviewed here, but events in previous episodes may be discussed.] At the end of the previous episode, so many questions were left unresolved. What happened to Felix? Where is Vaughn? How is Rhys going to deal with Handsome Jack? Who is the Stranger who kidnapped Fiona and Rhys to get the whole thing started? All of those questions get answered. The story of the Stranger is particularly well done. Over the course of the series it has become clear he was a known character. I had a couple of guesses, some of which were shot down along the way as people died. When it was finally revealed, it caught me by surprise, but doesn't feel like a cheap copout twist. Some hints were there on the way. The other big question looming over the series over its duration centers on Gortys. Most of the story takes place via flashback narration in which the perky robot is happy and healthy, but the present-day bits have had Rhys, Fiona, and the Stranger collecting her pieces all over again. What happened to her? [embed]315774:60751:0[/embed] It's a question I personally fretted over because Gortys has become my favorite character in the entire Borderlands universe. Her unrelenting optimism and childlike demeanor are so refreshing on the cutthroat planet of Pandora, giving her best lines that much more comedic weight. Gortys delivers several laugh-out-loud funny lines this time around, but a sad effect of Telltale design is that some players might never even hear them. My favorite came as a response to one of the dialogue choices. It almost makes me want to play through again just to see if there were any great lines I missed out on. This episode gives another substantial reason to warrant a second play through. Getting ready for the final confrontation, the usual gang of suspects has to put together a team, pulling from the supporting cast reaching back as far as episode one. In a move Telltale ought to adopt for all its series, it spells out exactly who is available and why or why not based on past choices. I covered for Athena when Janey was suspicious after the chase in Hollow Point, so she would be willing to fight with me again. I was hesitant to call myself a Vault Hunter, so Zer0 never took much notice and was unavailable. Not only would I have to replay this last episode if I wanted to see Zer0 in action again, I'd have to basically start from the beginning. Given how good this series is, I'm not upset about that. I doubt the final outcome of the fight with the Traveler is any different depending on which characters join in, but the battle itself is customized depending on who is there. It's intrinsically cool to see each character in action given the circumstances of the encounter, but I am reluctant to spoil the specifics. One of the aspects of this series that amazes me is just how impactful it can be on the Borderlands universe. What started out as a story about a middle manager and a lowly grifter has irrevocably altered Pandora as a whole. While The Pre-Sequel worked within the confines of the existing lore, providing back story for Hyperion and Handsome Jack, Tales builds new stuff on top, setting up for the inevitable Borderlands 3. Thinking of the future, there are a few open-ended plot points in this last episode. Though a lot of past choices were highlighted and their effects were explicitly shown, the choice that puzzled me the most is given to Rhys as he is describing his struggle with Handsome Jack. As far as I could tell, nothing in this series was affected by it despite its potentially huge consequences. Additionally, there's the very end. After the climactic battle with the Traveler, as the group is celebrating and grabbing loot, there's one final scene that might be setting up for a whole new adventure starring Rhys and/or Fiona. Whether that becomes Tales from the Borderlands Season Two or part of the mainline series, I don't know. But it will definitely get Borderlands nerds excited considering the possibilities. I cannot recommend Tales enough. Borderlands fans will love the fresh take on the dark comedy universe. Telltale fans will love the smart writing and callbacks to choices made throughout. People who don't fall into those categories might still love it because it is just that great. This last episode maintains the action, drama, and comedy present throughout the series. It ties up all the major loose ends while leaving just a hint of room for more to come. Most of all, it solidifies Tales from the Borderlands as Telltale's best series to date, a pinnacle of modern adventure gaming. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Borderlands finale review photo
Your journey ends here
[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, who consulted on the story for Tales from the Borderlands, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] What a...

Brave Exvius photo
Brave Exvius

Newest mobile Final Fantasy celebrates with FFVI nostalgia

Playable Magitek Armor Terra
Oct 19
// Steven Hansen
A new Final Fantasy is out this week and you won't be alone in not knowing or caring. Apparently the "too sexy" Mevius Final Fantasy already came out in June, so it's been a hot four months since the last one (not counting r...
Fallout Shelter update photo
Fallout Shelter update

Meet one of Fallout 4's characters early in Fallout Shelter

Plus new hard mode, cloud saves
Oct 16
// Steven Hansen
The many-millions-maker Vault dwelling mobile game from Bethesda, Fallout Shelter, got its 1.2 update, which includes a new survival mode and, for some, one of Fallout 4's characters. Piper, who runs a newspaper in Fallout 4...
Borderlands photo

Tales from the Borderlands' season finale gets a trailer

Tales from Borderlands Space
Oct 16
// Mike Cosimano
I'll be the first to admit -- I was extremely skeptical about Tales from the Borderlands, especially considering how disappointed I was by The Walking Dead's second season. But I'm happy to have been proven wrong. This game l...
Pokemon Go photo
Pokemon Go

Nintendo, Pokemon Company, Google invest $30M in Pokemon Go dev

Well, I'd hope so...
Oct 15
// Steven Hansen
Nintendo, The Pokémon Company, and Google have come together to throw a combined $30 million at San Francisco-based Niantic, developer of the recently announced Pokémon Go. Niantic started as an internal Google...

Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: The Order of the Stone

Oct 13 // Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: The Order of the Stone (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: October 13, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit To its credit, Minecraft: Story Mode does a lot well. The use of Minecraft's engine and iconic visual style is a nice workaround to keep the Telltale Tool from showing its age. It's hard to complain about low-polygon models for a world comprised mostly of cubes. Despite having fewer moving parts to work with on the character models, the characters are as expressive as they need to be. By narrowing or widening eyes and tweaking eyebrows, the block people (and pig) can show a range of emotions in a cartoony sort of way. The voice work aids in bringing the low-fidelity characters to life as well. The cast is impressive, including the likes of Patton Oswalt, Billy West, and Paul Reubens, to name a few. Though the characters look similar in the beginning, each has a defined personality that comes through thanks to the actors. Much like a session with Minecraft proper, by the end of the episode my brain stopped seeing everything and everyone as a collection of hard-edged polyhedra and just accepted them as regular places and people. [embed]315133:60717:0[/embed] However, the all-star voice cast does highlight The Order of the Stone's biggest shortcoming. With such big names in comedy doing the dialogue, it's disappointing how little comedy there is in the script. There are a few gags that find their mark, but most are worth only a smile or a chuckle; none really stood out. On the other end of the spectrum, the drama doesn't really deliver either. The elements are there: life-or-death situations, uncertainty, mistrust. Still, none of the prototypical "big choices" felt like they carried much weight. Of the five choices shown at the end, the first is just a judgment call with an unknown and arbitrary outcome, two involve whether you want to be an asshole to a guy who doesn't deserve it, one won't have clear implications until a later episode, and the last is a decision on which of protagonist Jesse's two friends has a better plan for what's to come. The choices highlight an emphasis on the future. Put plainly, The Order of the Stone is heavy on exposition, setting up the backstory, characters, and events for the rest of the season. While necessary, it misses some opportunities to be memorable in its attempt to lay the foundation. Story Mode will probably be more of a hit among Minecraft fans than general Telltale fans. The Order of the Stone features a few Minecraft-specific gameplay bits and references. A couple times during the episode, players are presented with a problem, given some materials, and tasked with crafting a solution. Recipes are given for those who don't know what to make or how to make it, but other craftable objects are present as well. While trying to make a stone sword, I accidentally crafted a lever. After a playful rib about me not knowing what I was doing, the materials were returned so I could forge the weapon. Later on, the group has to hit a pressure plate beyond a hallway filled with arrow traps. Recipes and materials are given for a couple possible tools to use. It would be great if there were other hidden solutions to discover for those who know the source material inside and out. In addition to the crafting puzzles, there is one classic adventure game puzzle found toward the end of the episode. It isn't especially original or taxing, but along with the crafting it does represent a step in a more gameplay-oriented direction from the recent story-only Telltale series. So far, Minecraft: Story Mode is like a Saturday morning cartoon. Sure, there is conflict, but it doesn't feel dire. Sure, there are funny bits, but the comedy isn't sharp or intelligent. Sure, there is a story, but it doesn't feel like it matters yet. There is some hope for this series to be great in the future, but The Order of the Stone is just okay. The Minecraft-specific gameplay is a nice way to shake up the usual formula. The blank slate of the universe allows the tale to go wherever it wants. The voice cast is full of actors who can do great work. But the writing needs to be more engaging if Story Mode wants to be taken seriously among Telltale canon. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Minecraft review photo
Exposition mode
Telltale has seen ups and downs with its licensed titles. With Jurassic Park the studio was still figuring out what works and what doesn't. More recently, The Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands have shown the strengt...

Metal Slug x Battle Cats photo
Metal Slug x Battle Cats

Metal Slug teams up with The Battle Cats

Remember Metal Slug?
Oct 12
// Jordan Devore
My experience with Metal Slug Defense is watching former Destructoid writer Jim Sterling suffer through its free-to-play trappings for a video. My experience with The Battle Cats, a similar strategy game about overwhelming yo...
Indie in Berlin photo
Indie in Berlin

Fired Dead Island 2 devs leave Yager, start indie studio

Plus, hints at super secret project
Oct 12
// Steven Hansen
Three Yager (Spec Ops: The Line, Dead Island 2) developers have left the company to go indie as inbetweengames. This is a few months after publisher Deep Silver dropped Yager as the developer on Dead Island 2, just a few mon...

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