Before we get started, let me set the record straight: I like games with a plot. Sandbox games leave me with a sense of despair because I don’t know what to do or where to go. Games that direct me to objectives are nice because I feel like I’m moving forward.
With that out of the way, let me talk about Minecraft. It’s a game that’s available for pretty much every single platform you can get your hands on right now. Its parent company was recently bought by Microsoft, but that’s another story that I really don’t care about. What I care about is what Minecraft is.
To the uneducated eye, it looks like an eye-searing mass of low-resolution pixels crudely slapped onto blocky 3D models. When I saw screencaps and videos of the game, I couldn’t ever picture myself playing it. What is it, I asked. Why is this popular? Sure, I saw things that people built. Skyscrapers, cities, vessels, whole worlds existed in those blocks. I never thought I could build any of those things. The most I could do, I thought, is crudely map out the layout of the Descent (from Trust) so readers would have a frame of reference for the action.
When Minecraft was released for the PS3, I rented it from the redbox. I figured I’d give it an honest try so I could say for sure that I didn’t like it. It’s one thing to talk badly about something, but I wanted to be able to say that I tried Minecraft. The very next day, I returned it to the redbox. I marched right to my workplace (walmart) and bought a copy for myself.
With that backstory out of the way, let me explain why I, a gamer who hates having no guide, bought Minecraft.
The tutorial world was a nice touch. I played through it so I could get the hang of the game, but after a while I decided to create my own custom world in survival mode, I plopped down into the middle of a clearing with some trees nearby. I followed the basic steps: create a shelter, build a workbench and tools, survey the area for resources. At a loss for what to do after that, I decided to take the name of the game to heart. I mined.
It was that sense of discovery that hooked me. In Minecraft, each world that you create is randomly generated. Even the same “seed” (a word or number put into one of the boxes at world creation) yields very different results every time. When I used yaoi at my fiancee’s house, it at first created a very stacked world with a ton of mountains that looked like pyramids. The same word at my house yielded the environment I described above.
I started digging into a nearby hill and discovered a cavern. I followed that cavern down and mined… and mined… and mined. When I had enough stone in my inventory to make a mortal man pass out, I decided what I wanted to build. My first building leaves much to be desired and also doubled as an Enderman trap. Endermen, in short, are scary as heck because they teleport and don’t like being looked at. If you look at them, they attack you. I had a good jump scare when I went to continue building and saw an Enderman inside walls I thought were safe.
Another thing that kept me playing was the ease of the controls. On PS3, your various menus are mapped to the buttons. Your inventory pops up with one button, your crafting menu with another. The trigger buttons on the controller make your character mine or place blocks. Despite opening the inventory plenty of times when I was after the crafting table, I had no issue with making whatever it is I wished.
Why is it addictive? I can’t really say. In creative mode, my fiancee built a ship and started to build a house while I decided to put jack-o-lanterns in the ocean. It was a completely random decision that nonetheless kept me occupied. It could be any number of elements. The graphics leave much to be desired, but at the same time their simplicity has a charm of its own. It could be that it lets you create your own story. I decided that I wanted to build a tunnel from one end of the world to the other. I decided to build a pyramid that really didn’t turn out as a pyramid as well.
I suppose this wasn’t so much a review as a narrative of how I played. However, this game is deeper than it appears from observation. I highly recommend getting your hands on it and trying it for yourself.