Review – Minecraft Dungeons

Dungeon crawling its way to glory

With thanks to the folks at Microsoft Game Studios and Mojang, I’ve been spending some time with Minecraft Dungeons. This top-down dungeon crawler has been out for some time over on the Microsoft stores for Xbox and PC, as well as PlayStation and Nintendo Switch. It has recently also released on PC via Steam, and I thought this was a great opportunity to get back in there, and bring you our full common-sense review and parent’s guide. Find the video just below, or keep reading for our extended review.

The Basics

Minecraft Dungeons is an isometric hack-and-slash adventure. It gives much more than a mere nod to old-school classic dungeon crawlers such as Diablo. It follows a fairly decent narrative in which the Arch Illager has captured the local lands, merchants and villagers, assuming ultimate control. You’ll work to free these lands, fighting against all of the Minecraft mobs you’ll know and love from the original game.

In addition to a decent single-player experience, you’ll also find cooperative play available here, allowing you to tackle the various levels with up to three friends. Multiplayer is available both through offline single-screen gameplay, as well as cross-platform online multiplayer with friends on the various platforms.

Playing through the title, you’ll work through a number of well crafted levels, fighting off mobs in both ranged and melee combat. In doing so, you’ll unlock more weapons, armour and artifacts, as well as leveling up your character. With each level up comes an enchantment point, allowing you to imbue your equipment with various powers as well as finding them in the wild.

Parent’s Eye View

Minecraft Dungeons is rated by PEGI at 7 and above, and by the ESRB at Everybody 10+. It may nod to old-school titles such as Diablo, but Minecraft Dungeons brings a blood-free approach to dungeon crawling. Combat is inherent within the title, but both long-range and up-close combat is gore free. You’ll face the typical enemies from the minecraft universe (Creepers, Spiders, Skeletons, Baby Zombies Riding Ducks… the usual), and taking these out remains relatively comical throughout the adventure.

Stylised, maybe, but the visuals sure are up to date

A couple of things to watch out for. Firstly, online play should be monitored, to ensure your Micro-Bandits are sticking to a curated friends list rather than playing with randoms. Loot is split quite fairly in the title, but I always advocate for ensuring online play is restricted and carefully considered.

Secondly, the title does come with options to purchase DLCs, and as always you should ensure that younger ones don’t have access to payment methods. With monitoring of these in mind, I’d say that Minecraft Dungeons isn’t only suitable, but well suited to some family gameplay, and it’s one which is picking up our Pixel Bandits Family Hit award.

Accessibility

For Accessibility, Minecraft Dungeons is picking up a rating of Casual. As ever, of course, this isn’t saying that there’s not much to do. There are a huge number of levels in Minecraft Dungeons, and a lot to be getting on with. However, the quick level-based progression does allow easy drop in and out gameplay. There are also some good difficulty options, allowing you to be challenged at your own level.

There is a fair amount of reading required in Minecraft Dungeons, looking at the various equipment and enchantments. You’ll need to read through these to understand the bonuses provided, and while you can just pick and choose randomly and still get ok results, as a parent you may get hassled to explain each item to your young ones.

The Run Down

Visuals – Great: It’s easy to think of Minecraft as a pixelated low-res title, but the visuals these days are polished and smooth, if a little stylised. I can’t really think of any way the visuals could be improved here, and I’ve only good things to report

Audio – Great: The narrative voice over is incredibly well performed, and the soundtrack is on par with anything else I can think of these days. Mob sounds are varied enough to not be annoying, and the effects are also nicely done, it’s another good showing all around.

Narrative – Good: The story in game is easy enough for young ones to follow without being too tedious for us older kids. It’s marked down here slightly as it’s quite easy to play levels out of order, mixing up story elements to give yourself spoilers and a little confusion.

Replay – Great: Through the different lands there are a really good number of levels in which to throw yourself, and each of these has reasons to go back and play them again, hitting new targets, picking up new equipment, and even finding secret rooms and levels. The cooperative multiplayer is also great fun, and the fact that it’s cross-platform compatible and playable split screen is of course a winner

There are loads of classic Minecraft Environments to play through
The Verdict

Overall the Pixel Bandits illager Level for Minecraft Dungeons is Grab it! This has been one which the micro-bandits love, and which I enjoy playing with them as well, something which isn’t always easy to find. With kid-friendly hack and slash gameplay, some good loot hooks and reasons to replay, this one has definitely given us our money’s worth and whether you’re looking to play alone, with friends online or on one screen with the family, it’s definitely worth a look.

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