Saturday, October 31, 2015

Reversion Chapter 1: The Escape Review

Reversion: The Escape is the first of three planned chapters of 3f Interactive's point and click adventure set in a post apocalyptic future.  It's short, but it's free, and it's a good example of the kind of game play and story to expect in the chapters to come.

The game follows a man who wakes up in a hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Several years have passed, and the city has since crumbled after a major conflict.  The man is amnesiac, and doesn't remember anything about the himself, the war, or how he came to be there.  He discovers that he's locked in the hospital, which is under constant guard.  With the help of another patient, he has to make his way out of the hospital so he can begin his journey to piece together what exactly is going on.  His escape from the hospital is a rather short tale, but it's well told for the most part.  There are a few strange choices in wording that came from the translation from Spanish to English, but they aren't too bad.

The music is good, and the voice acting is decent.  It's a bit on the uneven side, but for a low budget independent title, it's not too bad.  It's about on par with the early releases from Wadjet Eye Games. The art style is quite nice as well.  The backgrounds have a lot of detail, and the character art style works well with the background art.  The character animations are a bit stiff, however. Thankfully, the puzzles in are really quite good.  They are challenging, without being overly so, and the solutions are all logical.  This chapter is one third of the planned product, so the puzzle difficulty is about what you'd expect at this stage of the game.

Reversion: The Escape is a decent adventure game.  The music is nice, and the voice acting is pretty good for a low budget indie adventure.  The art style is pleasing, except for some stiff character animations.  Thankfully, the story and puzzles make up for most of the shortcomings.  There are a few strange word choices that came about from the translation of the game from Spanish to English, but the excellence of the story still manages to shine through.  By the closing credits, you find yourself wanting to know just how the story will continue, and for a free sneak peak of an episodic game series, it managed to fill it's role quite well in the end.

Final Verdict:
3 out of 5

Halloween Treats

Happy Halloween everyone!

As is tradition on most years, Dave Grossman has updated his Pumpkin House of Horrors with a new pumpkin monstrosity.  In addition, Graham Annable has released a brand new spooky Grickle short toon, The Webb.

Here's a bonus, as even though it's not Halloween related, it is October 2015 related.  Universal has released a brand new official Back to the Future short called Doc Brown Saves the World on the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary DVD and Blu-Ray film releases.  The short takes place in 'our' universe, as it explains why our October 2015 doesn't have the futuristic equipment seen in the Back to the Future trilogy, Telltale's game, and the animated series.  If you want to see the whole thing, you'll have to pick up the box set, but Universal released a teaser trailer on YouTube.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fire Review

Note that in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I was a beta tester for this game.

Daedalic breaks from the mold for Fire, a puzzle game that takes its inspiration from games such as Gobliiins rather than the third person puzzle adventure games that are the usual fare from the company.

The game follows a caveman named Ugh, who is kicked out of his village.  He travels across the world, in search of the elusive fire, so he can bring it back to his people and be welcomed back into their fold.  Along the way, he discovers mysterious glowing creatures who are trapped in glass spheres.  Ugh must solve various puzzles in order to free these creatures and proceed on his journey.

The art style is really charming.  It's presented in a cartoon style that works for the game.  The music is also upbeat and cheerful, which fits with the cartoon aesthetic of the game.  There is no voice acting, beyond grunts, sighs, and the occasional caveman gibberish. Thankfully, the game manages to overcome this in the tradition of silent cartoon stars of the past by having him display his thoughts through his expressions.  The various animations of Ugh and the creatures he comes across are really well done.

Much like Gobliiins before it, the puzzles are in the vein of changing something about the environment around Ugh, and then interacting with an object which will be affected by the change. These puzzles are well done.  They start simple and get progressively more difficult as they go on. They never reach the level of challenge of the Gobliiins series, but a lot of them are quite creative. There are some levels that deal with things like time manipulation or character morphing, which make for some really fun puzzles.

The main drawback of the game is that it is very short.  Depending on your level of skill with games like these, you could work your way through this game in a matter of a few hours.  The game does try to combat its shortness with three optional gold medallions in each stage, which are unlocked by interacting with various objects in the environment, much like the puzzles themselves. However, this just makes the game drag on, as the puzzles aren't as entertaining the second time around.

Fire is a nice change of pace from Daedalic.  It's Gobliiins inspired game play is short, but enjoyable. The art style is charming, the animations are adorable, and the music is fun.  There is no voice acting, so there is nothing in the form of dialog, but the minimal story that is there is entertaining. The best part of the game is the puzzles.  They are really creative, especially in the later levels.  That alone makes the game worth playing, especially if you can buy it at a price that compensates for its short play time.

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Feeble Files Review

The Feeble Files was Adventure Soft's rare departure from form once they began their successful Simon the Sorcerer series.  It didn't manage to live up to the magic of the first two entries in their most successful series, however, with some odd puzzles and an interface that was more frustrating than fun.

Feeble is a being from an alien planet who has a job probing lifeforms on other planets.  While doing his job however, he unwittingly becomes involved in a plan to overthrow the government.  It's a wacky setup, and the story does manage to mostly deliver on the premise, although often the humor falls a bit flat.

The art style is presented in pre-rendered 3D inside a fully two dimensional engine.  This makes for the traditional third person point and click style, with characters and backgrounds that have more depth.  It actually works pretty well for the most part.  Some of the 3D graphics in the cutscenes look quite a bit dated, but otherwise it's unique art style actually works well with the graphic style chosen. The puzzles are, unfortunately, a bit of a mixed bag.  There are some good ones that are fun to solve, however some of them are a bit lacking in logic, even for the wacky sci-fi world in which Feeble inhabits.

What really hampers this game however, is the interface.  The designers eschewed the LucasArts inspired verb bar of the first two Simon the Sorcerer games for an interface that must be opened, in order to have more room for background art.  Normally this would be perfectly fine, but in this case, navigating through the menu system is a pain.  It makes the game a lot more frustrating than it would be otherwise. The rest of the presentation thankfully makes up for some of its shortcomings, as the voice acting and music are both very well done.

Feeble Files is a real departure from form for Adventure Soft.  The story, music, and voice acting are well done, for the most part.  The pre-rendered 3D graphics in a 2D engine work well for this type of game.  However, while this attempt at entering the 3D realm fared much better than their later attempt at a full three dimensional game with Simon the Sorcerer 3D, the game has its share of problems that make it more frustrating than it should have been.  The puzzles sometimes are lacking in logic, but the main problem is the interface.  It's a shame, as if the team had implemented something more intuitive, the game would have been a lot more fun to play.

Final Verdict:

3 out of 5

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Blackwell Epiphany Review

Wadjet Eye Games ends their Blackwell series on a high note, delivering some of the best puzzles and gameplay of the series along with a great story that ends the saga in a very emotional, but satisfying way.

The game begins as Rosa and Joey are tracking down a lead on a spirit in the area, only to find themselves in a situation for which they are not prepared.  A mysterious power is able to completely destroy spirits, which means that when Rosa and Joey investigate, they must both put their own souls in danger in order to try to stop it.  The resulting story is the most emotionally charged chapter of the series, and is compelling from start to finish.  Plot threads are revisited from past games, more is learned about the backstories of the characters, and the Blackwell legacy finally comes to a close. It's sad to know that these characters won't be appearing in other games, after getting to know them over the course of five games.  However, it's satisfying to know that they have received a fitting farewell.

The puzzles are some of the best and most memorable of the entire series.  There are quite a few areas where you have to switch between Joey and Rosa multiple times in order to solve puzzles. These dual character puzzles have always been the high point of the series, and, as the design of these puzzles in this chapter are done so well, they're even more enjoyable here.

The artwork always is evolving over the series, and it is at a high point in this episode.  It has the same slightly higher resolution of its predecessor, compared to earlier games.  This allows for some nice character closeup art.  The sprites are still pixelated, as the resolution is still low by modern standards, but the animations are very expressive.  The backgrounds are also excellent as well, having a great deal of detail despite the limitations inherent with the resolution chosen for the game.

The voice work is some times hit and miss in games by Wadjet Eye Games, but that's not the case here.  The voice actors for Rosa and Joey deliver some of their best work here, really delivering the dramatic lines with such emotion, that it makes the emotional gut punch that some of the story has that much more heart-wrenching.  The supporting cast is quite good as well, backing up the leads with aplomb.  The music is also well done, fitting well with the darker tone of this chapter's tale.

Rounding things out are the extras that Wadjet Eye Games are known for.  The optional commentary tracks and outtakes return, once again in the form of color coded letters that can be optionally clicked in the scene that relate to the relevant extra feature in question.  It's always nice to have these included in the game, especially when they are presented in the way they are here.  They work with the game flow, but, since they are completely optional, the prompts need not be present if they are not wanted.

The final episode of The Blackwell Epiphany is the series high point.  Everything is top notch, from the artwork, to the voice work, to the music, and especially the puzzles.  Most importantly, the story is fantastic, tying up loose threads, revealing character backstories, and delivering an emotionally charged, but satisfying conclusion to the saga of the Blackwell family and their spirit guide.  Their story is now over, but it has been a very rewarding one.  The Blackwell series is one that no adventure game fan should go without playing, The Blackwell Epiphany especially.

Final Verdict:

5 out of 5

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 2 Review

The second episode of Minecraft: Story Mode doesn't quite match the high standards set by it's predecessor.  Episode two is quite short, but it's wide amount of differences in the choices offers a lot of options for replay.

The first episode ended with a choice on locations, similar to Telltale's previous series, The Wolf Among Us.  This time however, the two different events will each take place in this episode rather than the previous, making the two choices feel like they have more impact otherwise.  The two locations really do play out very differently, and offer widely different gameplay throughout them. There are also a number of ways to go about your task to meet the member of the Order of the Stone that you have chosen, which not only offers up a different experience, but leaves room open for those actions to have consequences in future episodes.

The new locations are both really interesting, and widely different.  They both reflect the personality of the two members of the Order.  The architect's land is full of wonderous and wild buildings and inventions, whereas the bomb expert's land is full of crazy people known as griefers, who attempt to blow you up the moment you set foot on their soil.  These moments should be fun to people who are veterans of Minecraft, as they emulate and poke good natured fun at the experience of the game. However, they're also fun to people who aren't fans, as both paths are really fun to play as they are so vastly different from each other.

There are a few moments of adventure game puzzles here, which are optional, as there are multiple ways to solve a task.   The optional puzzles in The Walking Dead: Season One were nice to have, but as they weren't actually used to further the plot, they felt like added weight.  Thankfully, that's not the case here.  The way they are handled here works really well.  It's a trend that I hope Telltale continues in their future series, as it's a nice way to bridge their classic puzzle games with their modern choice based adventures. 

The other major choice, between who to save in the former episode, hasn't had much of a difference on the impact of the story so far.  The interaction with the characters will change depending on the choice,  however, there is a major plot point that is introduced with the return of your chosen character to the group. The problem is the same no matter which character you chose.  

The presentation continues to shine here.  The graphics continue to mimic the world of Minecraft, and all of the fancy invention has been designed to fit within the rules of the universe.  They all could be built in the original game, which helps make the game feel rooted in its source material, and is a nice touch.  The voice work continues to shine, as does the digital music, which continues to fit the world well.  The Tales from the Borderlands style opening credits also continue here, and continue to work well with the style of humor that this series has presented so far.

Minecraft: Story Mode episode two doesn't quite live up to the standards set by the premiere, but it comes close.  It's a much shorter experience, but the vastly different routes mean that gamers would get a lot out of a replay session.  The optional puzzles are handled much better than in The Walking Dead: Season One, as they are actually integral to the plot.  The music and voice work are excellent, as is always the case in Telltale's games.  In addition, the music and voice work are excellent, as is always the case in Telltale's games.The art style mimics Minecraft well, and the team went to great lengths to make sure that the outlandish inventions could actually be created in Minecraft, which should please fans of the original game.  The main drawback to the episode is that the short length makes the episode feel mostly like a setup for the episodes yet to come.

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 2 Is Out Now

In a very surprise release, the second episode of Minecraft: Story Mode is out already for most platforms. It will be released for Android and iOS devices on Thursday.

The season pass disc, a retail disc for consoles that includes the first episode on the disc and the ability to download the other episodes as DLC as they're released, is also in stores today.

Day of the Tentacle Remastered Screenshots

The remastered version of Day of the Tentacle, now known as Day of the Tentacle Remastered, has finally been shown in action to the public, and the first screenshots of the high definition art are now available.

This remastered version will also include high quality audio taken from the original recording sessions, the ability to use a new verb coin or a high definition verb bar in the remastered version, the ability to switch back and forth from the original and high definition versions, and commentary from the creators, including both Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer.

Telltale Publishing Label Launched

It seems that Telltale is going full out publisher now, with a new Telltale Publishing label.

They last published Hector: Badge of Carnage in 2011, but that was apparently actually co-developed by them. Telltale designers Dave Grossman and Mark Darin are credited with design on episodes 2 and 3.

The Jackbox Party Pack appears to be a completely different situation altogether, as The Jackbox Party Pack was already developed and published digitally by Jackbox Games. Telltale is simply handling publishing duties once it comes out on disc on November 10th.

This definitely shows how far Telltale has grown, as even after the success of The Walking Dead, they still had some of their own games published on disc by other publishers. Law & Order: Legacies was published on disc for Windows by Avanquest Software in November 2012, shortly before the release of the final episode of The Walking Dead: Season One. They are now large enough that they publish all of their titles on computers and consoles, and now have begun publishing games developed by other companies as well.

Day of the Devs 2015 Showing DOTT SE

Double Fine is returning for their third annual Day of the Devs. This year, they'll be showing Day of the Tentacle: Special Edition for the first time at the event.

Other games on display at the event will include ABZÛ, ADR1FT, Badblood, Below, Botolo, Burly Men at Sea, Death's Gambit, Donut County, Fantastic Contraption, Gang Beasts, Gnog, Hyper Light Drifter, Night in the Woods, Outer Wilds, Overland, Oxenfree, Pit People, Rising Thunder, Scale, Secret Legend, Sound Self, Spy Party, Tacoma, Thumper, Tilt Brush, Wattam, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Witchmarsh.

It will be held on November 7th from 3PM to 9PM PST at the Midway in San Francisco, and once again admission is free. RSVP for the event at their Facebook events page.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Game of Thrones Episode 1 Review

Telltale has managed to score another popular franchise with Game of Thrones.  This series is all about bloodlines and betrayals, so it seems like the perfect fit with the choices and consequences model that Telltale has used for all of their games since The Walking Dead: Season One.

The game follows the noble house of Forrester, a clan that provides the realm with strong equipment made from Ironwood trees.  The Forrester clan has only been mentioned in passing in the novels on which HBO's Game of Thrones is based.  This gives Telltale a lot of freedom to make their own characters, while still making it fit right within the continuity of the Game of Thrones world.

Like 400 Days before it, this game has several different protagonists, and their stories will weave in and out of each other as the episodes unfold.  Game of Thrones is told in six episodes, so this format should serve this game much better than its predecessor, as even though the story was interesting enough, one episode was not enough time to get to know each of the protagonists.

The game opens with the death of the head of the house Forrester, and each member of the house, from the family members, to the loyal servants, must make choices to try to keep the house going in their leader's stead.  As with all of Telltale's choices and consequences games so far, this episode doesn't reveal too many consequences yet, but it does seem that this format could lead to a good deal of consequences down the road, especially as each protagonist makes their own choices.

Choices are hard to make in the Game of Thrones world, as good people usually do not live long, so it should be interesting to see what follows.  There is a good chance that the game will enter even murkier waters than the morally challenged protagonists from Tales from the Borderlands.

The game is presented in an interesting art style that resembles a painting, with heavy brush strokes apparent on the backgrounds, but it's especially apparent on the characters.  It takes a bit of getting used to, but it's actually quite pleasant once you do, especially in the backgrounds.  The eyes of the characters have a bit of an uncanny-valley quality, however, but it's not too distracting.

The music and voice acting is always top notch in Telltale's games and it definitely shines here.  The music uses the soundtrack from the television show mixed with an original score.  The licensed music makes the game feel like it's part of the Game of Thrones show, while the original score fits the tone of each of the scenes wonderfully.  The voice cast is fantastic as well.  Each of the protagonists are voiced excellently, and they are joined by some of the cast from the HBO show as well.  As with Telltale's CSI games, some of the actors from the show sound more wooden than others, but they all work well, and add to the authenticity of the game.

Outside of the choices and consequences, the rest of the game is presented in quick time events. Telltale does need to mix things up a bit, as the QTE's are becoming Telltale's go-to game play device, and they're getting a bit tiresome at this point.  It's a shame there's no puzzles or at least some direct control action sections, as the direct controlled action from the middle of the first season of The Walking Dead would have really worked well here.

The first episode of Game of Thrones manages to be an exciting premiere episode, story-wise.  The finale is one of the most memorable moments I've seen in a Telltale game so far.  It's something that Telltale hasn't tried before, and is certainly quite the cliff-hanger for what's to come.  The music and voice acting is also top notch, matching the excellent standards set by the story.  The painting-like art style is a bit jarring at first, but works well once you get used to it.  The game play however, is a bit lacking.  The choices and consequences do seem like they could be used quite well in the setting of Game of Thrones, but most of the consequences from the choices made in this episode will come later in the season.  The rest of the game play consists of quick time events, which is a shame as Telltale has shown that they're capable of more compelling gameplay with the puzzle based or direct action based gameplay in some of their other seasons.  The latter could have definitely been used well in the Game of Thrones setting.  Even with it's shortcomings, however, the excellent story and presentation make Iron From Ice an intriguing start to the season.

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5

Friday, October 16, 2015

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 4 Review

Tales from the Borderlands keeps up the strong momentum set by previous episodes in episode four, which ends up being another strong installment in this entertaining series.

The best part of the game from a gameplay standpoint has been the extras that Telltale has added for this series.  The bionic eye is used well as always, giving excellent information to those who use it on objects, and funny lines to those who had opted to trust Jack earlier.  It's not used in puzzles as much in this episode, which is a shame, but it's still a fun addition that is good to have.

The story is where Telltale always shines, and this is the strongest of the series so far.  Telltale's writers love to tickle your funny bone in their humorous games, and they do so here, in spades.  They have the best opening of the series yet, with some of the funniest moments of the series so far, once again set against music that sets the tone beautifully.  Jack gets some nice one-liners in, of course, and Gortys is wonderfully naiive as always.  There is also an over-the-top action sequence, that harkens back to the first episode.  It's heavy in quick-time-events, but, for the scene, it works.

Even Telltale's humorous games tend to get grounded at times, and pull at your heart strings as well. This episode has perhaps the most moving moment of the entire series.  By the end of the sequence I found myself in tears, which is saying something, as Telltale managed to make me care about a character that I for whom I previously didn't care anything.  The ending sequence also had some excellent dramatic moments, and set up a fantastic cliffhanger for the finale.

The penultimate episode of Tales from the Borderlands is the best yet.  It has fantastic music and the actors perform their lines wonderfully.  The bionic eye is still used to great effect when examining objects.  The best part about the episode is the story, which delivers equal amounts of humor and drama.  The tension rises at the end of the episode, and leaves things on an exciting cliff-hanger. This season has been exciting and entertaining so far.  If the last episode lives up to expectations, this series could potentially be one of the best cinematic choice and consequences game they have produced so far.

Final verdict:

4½ out of 5
Episode Three ReviewEpisode Five Review

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 3 Review

The third episode of Tales from the Borderlands keeps the ball running, with a fantastic chapter that keeps the momentum set by the excellent chapters that came before it.

The episode begins as the duo find themselves in danger.  There are more people who want the full power of the Gortys project, and Rhys and Fiona are their way to get what they want.  The series begins to take an interesting turn depending on your choice of who to side with, and the designers have fun with that choice.  The bionic eye of Rhys has always been a nice addition to the game, being both useful to game play, as well as bringing back the look function in a new way.  It's even more fun now. If you choose to side with Jack, the optic output of the eye implant of Rhys displays sarcastic information about an object you scanned instead of the regular information feed from Hyperion.

The voice cast once again shines, but the breakout of this episode is the voice actress of Gortys.  Her character is written with a simple, cute charm, and her voice is a big part of that.  Her interactions with Loaderbot are the highlight of this chapter.  The music once again continues to shine right alongside the excellent voice work, especially the title song.  The opening sequences in this series have been a delight since the beginning, and that trend continues in full force here.

The third chapter of Tales from the Borderlands feels a bit short. It more than makes up for it with an excellent narrative with branches from choices that are beginning to have a noticeable effect on the story line,   Both new and returning characters are excellently voiced, their interactions are memorable, and the music frames the story and blends in with the excellent voice work seamlessly. If the story continues on this path, Rhys and Fiona are truly destined for greatness.

Final verdict:

4 out of 5
Episode Two ReviewEpisode Four Review

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Space Quest V Review

Space Quest V was a departure from the previous games in many ways.  It was the first game in the series to not be helmed by both creators of the franchise, It was also the first to be developed by a developer other than Sierra, as it was developed by Sierra's Dynamix division.  It also found Roger in a position of power for the first time.  However, despite these changes, or possibly because of them, Space Quest V is one of the best games in the series.

Roger Wilco cheats on his test at Starcon Academy, and finds himself as captain of the SCS Eureka, a ship designed to vacuum space debris. He's technically still a janitor, but now finds that he's no longer the lowest member of his assigned spacecraft. For the first time, he has power over the members of his crew, even if they aren't particularly enthralled to be assigned to a garbage scow. His simple mission soon gets complicated, as he finds himself in the middle of a toxic conspiracy.

This game doesn't have voice acting, despite the fact that there is voice acting in the two games that bookmark it.  Thankfully, the writing more than makes up for it, as the humor in this game is top notch.  The previous game had a lot of funny moments, but this game breaks out all the puns and references to Star Trek, and other science fiction juggernauts that it can. Thankfully, the humor isn't overbearing on the main plot, as it is rock solid here.  Roger really shines in a leadership position, and the villain that he faces is excellent, and quite multifaceted.

The art style is fantastic for it's time, which was always one of the strong points of Sierra, and their associated divisions.  The backgrounds have a lot of detail, and the animation of the sprites are great. The puzzles in this game are quite difficult, as is usual in Sierra's games.  Thankfully, there aren't any puzzles that don't make sense logically.  Some stretch real world logic a bit, but within the context of the game's science fiction world, they fit in fine.  This game is definitely one of those that fit in the Sierra mantra of save early, save often.  It is very possible to die, especially in confrontations with enemies, so it would be wise to save whenever you make progress.  It's also possible to get in a dead end, and some sequences require precise timing, which can be quite infuriating at times. This player punishing style of Sierra's games didn't age as well as their contemporaries at LucasArts, but if you're willing to play through despite the frustration, the underlying story is worth experiencing.

Final Verdict:

3½ out of 5

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 1 Review

Minecraft: Story Mode seemed like a really odd choice for a franchise for Telltale to tackle.  The original Minecraft game was a sandbox construction game, without a story of its own, and little lore outside of the characters and enemies from the game.  Surprisingly, Telltale manages to deliver a great experience with the license, even going as far as adding in elements that their other choices and consequences games lack.

It continues the modern Telltale formula in a good way. It has an interesting story about a beast that is unleashed, and the game's group has to track down people who can help stop it. It has choices in the dialog, with consequences that come in the form of characters changing their opinion on you based on what you choose. Plus, there are choices to make on which character to save. It expands on the idea introduced in The Wolf Among Us of choosing one path, and the other one plays out whether you are there or not. Except this time, it feels like the choice matters more, as it extends into the next episode rather than being contained in a single chapter.

The new mechanics are where the game really shines. This is Telltale's first game to have customizable characters, including gender. Male and female Jesse have the same lines, but the actors read the lines really differently, so going through for a second playthrough really is worthwhile to hear those subtle differences.  The rest of the voice cast is excellent as well, delivering performances to equal the great standard set by the voice actors for the main character.  The music is excellent as well, with an electronic style of soundtrack that really fits the tone of the game.

There's two areas of exploration here where you can just stop and look around and interact with objects and characters. The first one doesn't have a lot of character interaction though, but it's definitely good to see more areas that allow you to explore, without being led on rails through cutscenes and quick time events. Speaking of quick time events, there aren't as many of them here, which is my absolute favorite part of the game. The direct controlled action with a hit counter really shines. It's miles better than quick time events, and I really hope it becomes the standard for Telltale's action scenes from here on out.

The Minecraft art style is mimicked, but not duplicated.  The characters are still blocky, but they are presented in a style that is much more pleasing aesthetic that fits the high resolution cinematic presentation that are the cornerstone of Telltale's modern games. The game also mimics the Minecraft style of gameplay through the crafting table, which lets you collect items to craft. These items are sometimes used to craft weapons, as expected, but they can also be used to craft items for use in getting out of situations (and the item you can craft depends on the items you collect in your inventory). I was also pleasantly surprised to see the return of real puzzles, in the form of a switch puzzle at the end of the episode.

Minecraft: Story Mode succeeds in spades in melding the Telltale style with the Minecraft universe.  The Minecraft style is mimicked, albeit in a more visually pleasing fashion.  The crafting table is used to great extent as well, making good use of the inventory system.   The voice acting and music is top notch, and the choices and consequences style of gameplay is integrated into the Minecraft universe well.  Best of all, Telltale is finally evolving their gameplay here, with direct control combat rather than relying on quick time events for action scenes.  This is the most adventure style of game that Telltale has created in a long time, as there is also a switch puzzle near the end of the game. Minecraft: Story Mode is a nice blend of old Telltale with new Telltale, mixed in with mechanics that never have been in a Telltale game before.

Final Verdict:

4½ out of 5