I believe there is a builder in all of us. Whether you make music, draw, or play with LEGO, the will to create is part of us. It’s fundamental to who we are as human beings. Minecraft plays right into this and in the end offers gameplay and appeal to almost anyone, albeit in a bit of a buggy package.
Minecraft is essentially a sandbox construction game brought to you by Swedish developers Mojang. When the player starts up a game, they are presented with a blank canvas. The game generates a world of blocks and then places the player, helplessly, somewhere in it. Blocks are key here. Almost everything in Minecraft is a cube, which gives the world a very pixelated feel. The art style plays into this, by keeping the graphics on the blocks pixelated as well. It makes for a uniquely beautiful world, unlike anything else out there.
When it comes to gameplay, Minecraft offers single-player and multiplayer, the only difference being crafting alone versus crafting with friends. There are three game modes; creative, survival and hardcore. Survival is the default mode where players obtain resources, manage hunger, deal with enemies, explore, and, above all, build structures. Players combine basics blocks, like wood, to create tools, crafting tables, chests and other resources. This is where the genius of Minecraft is, you harvest the resources, you create the tools, you build the structures, you are the master of your own destiny. The only limitation is what you can come up with.
In creative mode, you are give an unlimited amount of almost every block and health and hunger are removed, leaving you to create to your heart’s content. On the flipside, hardcore mode removes the ability to respawn, meaning when you die, your world dies with you.
However, it’s not all epic builds and creeper slaying. Minecraft has some issues. The game can be extremely resource intensive, and even the best built computers can struggle running it without the proper setup. Even when running, the game still struggles with rendering the world, leaving huge sections of it blank at times. Also, there is little in the way of in-game tutorials. Sure there is the awesome Minecraft Wiki, but you are left to discover that for yourself and without the internet you are on your own.
Minecraft takes a unique approach when it comes to sound and music. The sounds in the game range from delightfully unique to downright annoying. The constant rhythmic beating of your fist or tools against the blocks is great, but some of the animal sounds can get bothersome and repetitive. The music, created by C418 (Daniel Rosenfeld), is fantastic. It’s atmospheric and non-intrusive. It just sort of fades into and out of your gameplay experience. In fact, it’s so good, it’s a wonder it isn’t playing all the time. That said, the sporadic bits of music do help create the isolation you feel in the world.
Minecraft has no story whatsoever, except the one you create for yourself, but the lasting appeal of the game is almost infinite. The worlds are huge and because you can build on top and mine below, the amount of buildable real estate is astronomical. Once you have tired of what you are creating, just move onto a different section of your world or start a new world altogether. The ideas and possibilities are endless.
Minecraft is a tough game to explain to people, making it a tough one to review. The game is as fun as you want to make it, and some people prefer to experience fun as opposed to producing their own. From a conceptual standpoint, Minecraft is a home run. It sets out to let the player create whatever they want, and it executes that flawlessly. But from a technical aspect, the game suffers from a lot of graphical problems and doesn’t run efficiently at all, especially for a retail release. Those are easy to overlook when you consider that for $26.90 you can build your own utopia for you to experience by yourself or with your friends. Minecraft is a game everyone should try and many will love.
Tested on PC