Telltale Games takes Minecraft adventure mode and adds a narrative to it, but is it a story we need to hear?
Have you ever heard a song and had it speak to you in a profound way right from that very first listen? You sit back as the music hits you and you find yourself mentally conjuring up imagery and relating it to your life in a way that really resonates. It becomes more than the artist every really intended and, in a way, you’ve taken it and built something new through your own interpretation and perspective.
Now, have you ever had the similar experience of watching a music video for that exact same song and having the visuals and story of the video shatter that perfect image you had of the music? It’s happened to me many times over the years and here I caution that we may be seeing the video game equivalent taking shape.
My stepson Toby loves Minecraft and I’ve watched as he’s spent hours adding up to days building, mining, and evolving the various worlds he’s created within the game. Many times it’s a solo build, but it seems best when it’s with his friends. Watching from outside his world, Minecraft feels like a kind of digital LEGO that’s constantly evolving through crafting tables and recipes that I couldn’t hope to remember but that he calls up with ease. I’m consistently amazed by the chicken castles he’s built and the wild mine rides he’s taken me on over the last few years.
What has intrigued me even more is the grade school mythology that exists around some of the characters within the game (or the army of YouTube videos he’s watched). I constantly hear these fantastical stories they share about diamond swords, creepers, Enderman, Steve, Notch, the Ender Dragon and so many others. I’ve also long ago lost track of what is in the game, what is in a mod, and what is just the shared narrative of the kids as they make their own story of Minecraft. In a way, I sincerely hope it’s the shared narrative and collective mythos I’m hearing as the game just feels so much more fun, in my eye, when they are building, be it with blocks or with stories.
Now, along comes Telltale Games and, given their track record, the Minecraft: Story Mode game is going to be an amazing addition to the Minecraft universe. Some of the the promo videos I’ve seen only increase my respect for this interactive choose-your-own-adventure kind of companion to the main Minecraft game. In many ways I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy and share the experience with Toby.
That said, I am a little nervous about the entire proposition. Much like the music video interpreting the music I love, I worry that aspects of whatever story Telltale chooses to share will become cannon and part of the overall Minecraft story. What makes Minecraft so beautiful is exactly the open ended, anything can be built and anything can happen way in which it was created. It’s truly a limitless game. It is my sincere hope that this interactive Story Mode doesn’t narrow that window on limitless creativity, while at the same time entertaining the hell out of us.