A Game Pass-ass game.
Minecraft Dungeons is definitely one of those games that exists primarily for Game Pass, and I say that in the sense that if I had bought this on its own I would probably be more disappointed with it but since I received it for “free” (as in no additional charge) with my Game Pass subscription it’s not quite as offensive. That said, Minecraft Dungeons costs $20 for the standard edition which is about how much this game is worth in my opinion.
It took me somewhere between three and four hours to complete the main story mode in Minecraft Dungeons, and I say that specifically because I am notoriously slow at completing things. That said after roughly three hours I had obtained 50% of the achievements and had beaten the default story mode. Of course these games don’t rely on their stories as a crutch as much as a delivery vehicle for the real content: The gear grind.
For what it’s worth, Minecraft Dungeons is a very charming looking game. It takes the Minecraft aesthetic and builds hand-crafted but procedurally randomized dungeons and open world areas that look beautiful. You don’t need to know anything about Minecraft going into Minecraft Dungeons because anything you might be familiar with is easily picked up on like the creepers blowing up when they are near you or the spiders shooting sticky web.
The plot of Minecraft Dungeons is simple: There are these guys called villagers who are the good guys and they are attacked by these guys called illagers who are kinda like villagers but evil. Get it? They have “ill” in their name, and not the good ill . You as the hero must go and rescue the villagers and defeat the illagers.
Controls are so similar to Diablo 3 that Minecraft Dungeons could theoretically be a total conversion mod. I’m not complaining about this because Diablo 3 on consoles is how ARPGs should control, and if Mojang decided to go down a ‘creative’ route you’d probably just end up with a mess. Dodging is a simple as hitting the right bumper to dodge forward or flicking the right stick to move in a specified direction. Your attack is set to A (melee) and right bumper (ranged) with artifact items set to X, Y, and B.
The controls are tight however the dodge takes way too long in my opinion to cool down between uses. The rest of the game is a pared down Diablo; you have a melee weapon slot, a ranged weapon slot, and one slot for your full body armor. As you progress through the game you will find increasingly powerful weapons/armor with which to defeat more powerful enemies, making it incrementally easier to defeat said enemies until you move on to more powerful enemies who drop more powerful gear.
It’s not a particularly intelligent design and basically runs down to how quickly you get shot down upon entering a room. The concept around “difficulty” runs down to the quantity of enemies that can tank enormous amounts of damage while killing you in fewer hits, just aimlessly lumbering toward you without a thought. Enemies with interesting and creative attack styles are very few and far in between.
Where the game does get interesting is in the leveling. As you level up you gain enhancement points that can be fed to your equipment to level it up. Each piece of equipment has one or more enhancement options like damage reduction, stuns, etc. Each enhancement slot has two or three choices and each choice has three levels that cost more. So the idea of course is that you customize your gear as you find it and level up. You do need to dismantle the item to get your points back that can be fed into a new item. It’s nice.
There are odd little bits of charm that Minecraft Dungeons has, like the loot goblins being the game’s pigs and keys that are sentient and try to run off if you get hit while carrying them. I was not a fan of the mob ripped right out of Diablo that raises pillars out of the ground that arbitrarily box you in, as well as other pillars that explode. There are already too many explosions in this game.
I also have terrible luck finding a specific artifact. You can find three artifacts that let you summon a llama, a wolf, and a golem and an iron golem and for the life of me I can’t find the iron golem item. I have dropped a metric buttload of emeralds (the game’s currency) on the two vendors located in town only to find that neither gives particularly good items despite being geared toward your level. Allegedly.
With the gear system you can basically swap your class as you wish, as each armor outfit has its own “class” with specific bonuses like damage mitigation, range damage, etc.
Minecraft Dungeons is a fun budget game worth the $20 and is an even better value proposition if you are playing it as part of the Game Pass. Check it out.