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Few games have the absolute cultural domination that Minecraft has accomplished. Listing off the books, bedspreads, socks, shirts, and spin offs that Minecraft has accumulated would take a new Minecraft book of its own. And now, yet even more is being added onto the amorphous Minecraft mass: Minecraft Dungeons!
Contrary from what you might expect from a decrepit dank dungeon, Minecraft Dungeons is an utterly delightful escapade into a loot-filled blocky paradise of combat and exploration. Beginning with the charming comforting embrace of a adorable opening cutscene that welcomes you into the world, with wonderful light-hearted comedic moments setting the scene, you’re met with an amiable tone that dominates the game.
Being a hack and slash action RPG in the same vein as Diablo, you might expect the charm offensive to wear thin once you start massacring creepers, endermen and just about anything else in your path. Remarkably however, Minecraft Dungeons’ cutesy aesthetic remains steadfast, providing a delightful world to cleave through without ever impeding on its fun gameplay.
The hack and slashing is fundamentally rather simple, being little more than a button mashing bonanza. Whether it’s getting up close and personal with a good beating stick or practising good social distancing with your trusty bow, there’s little more to it than spamming the respective attack button till everything has stopped moving.
Thankfully, the combat doesn’t have to be complex to be interesting. While simplistic tactics centre stage, the fun comes from the vast customisation available for your loadout, and the unique brands of devastation they allow.
For each equipment slot – melee, armour, ranged weapon, and artefacts – there’s a plethora of discoverable equipment options, each with their own speed, feel, and dynamic that you’re forced to experience. With looted equipment being levelled, you’ll bounce from one piece to another to keep up with your opponent’s scaling difficulty.
There’s an abundance of loot for you to choose between, however, Minecraft Dungeons makes any option appealing thanks to its engaging enchanting system. Rather than traditionally levelling through a skill tree to define your build it’s instead a fluid evolving system with levels providing enchantment points to level up your gear rather than your character.
The variety of enchantments allow you to fully curate your build, even with weapons and armour you wouldn’t traditionally gravitate towards. As necessity progresses you to wield stronger weapons, the lenient difficulty always. gives you the freedom to try new and exciting combinations. Experimenting in what could be fun is allowed to be, as you’re not hampered by not using the most efficient min-maxed gear.
Despite the layered combat, Minecraft Dungeons feels infinitely approachable and a pleasure to pick up for short bursts of fun. Without being distinctly mindless, you don’t have to work for the fun, instead being able to play with the ample tools that are laid out before you.
Minecraft’s blocky style is, as ever, relentlessly endearing, and Minecraft Dungeons looks nothing short of incredible thanks to it’s gorgeous use of colour and lighting. (Both Lewis and I were blown away, as we mentioned in the latest MSPoweruser Gamescast that you should totally all be listening to) and playing through each of the semi-procedural generated levels is a delightful treat to behold as backdrop for the combat.
Despite being a romp of accessible playful fun in a lovely world, Minecraft Dungeons does have its annoyances. If you’re looking for a challenge, you’ll be left waiting until the New Game Plus/Adventure modes. However, by that time you may find the charming aesthetic start to drift from its initial pull.
The more you play after that, the more elements will start to grate, such as the sometimes-frustrating level geometry or the monster sounds that could be heard cross continent over the otherwise terrific tunes.
Minecraft Dungeons may not be the most complex epic adventure to behold, but it is wonderfully delightful and a pleasure to play. Distilling Minecraft elements into a hack and slash frame is a thankfully happy marriage that’s captivating and charming in equal measure. Microsoft’s iconic IP spinoffs – such as Halo Wars or Gears Tactics – always provide fantastic experiences and this is another star hit.