Review: Minecraft Dungeons (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Minecraft Dungeons
Format: PSN (1.52 GB)
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Publisher: Mojang
Developer: Mojang Studios, Double Eleven
Original MSRP: $19.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: E10+
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

 

Video Review:

Gameplay:
It was strange seeing that Xbox Games logo when booting up Minecraft Dungeons on the PlayStation 4. But I’m glad that Microsoft decided to allow for Minecraft to continue to make gamers happy regardless of the platform they choose to game on.

I’m not the biggest fan of Minecraft, but I appreciate its place in video games. It’s an awesome little relaxing experience that my son loved playing for years and still revisits with his cousins.

So, this little game was announced a while back and got my attention. I love Diablo-styled games, from Champions of Norrath to Warhammer. Minecraft Dungeons takes the pixel style graphics of their extremely popular game and turns it into a dungeon crawler. And for the most part there is enough meat on those bones to warrant your time, especially if you want a game that you can play with your friends (online for now, but local co-op works great as well).

Dungeons starts you off with a choice of a character skin. It’s only a skin because you really don’t choose classes in this game. Even your gender really isn’t a part of the character “customization”. You pick a skin you like, and your choice of weapons and armor determine your organic “class” as you move through the game.

As you progress through the campaign, your character gains levels and earns enchantment points. This is where you determine how you want to enhance your character by adding modifications to your weapons and armor. This is also where some of that meat to the game comes into play. Dungeons doesn’t have an incredibly deep customization system, but what it does have is more than expected for a smaller-priced game like this.

I chose to enhance my sword with freezing ability and my crossbow with exploding arrows, while my wife went with a slower crossbow with incredible power. My crossbow had incredible speed but did little damage. It’s these types of choices that make games like these enjoyable. And then of course, you’re always on the hunt for that weapon that meets all your needs and truly complements your play style.

There is plenty to do throughout the campaign, but I started a second game to allow my wife to get accustomed to the controls and noticed that the levels were a little different, thus, the game might be linear, but you get some variety every time you play it.

Visuals:
Factoring in the very simplistic style of the Minecraft games, Dungeons is a beauty. It does not deviate from that pixelated look, although I don’t remember trees swaying in the original game. They do here.

All of the characters are basically the same model, with skin differences creating the uniqueness, but even then, there is enough variety that you can appreciate the purposefully limited pallet.

Magic and explosions look epic and light up the environments. Minecraft has always included combat, but you’ve probably never seen it look this epic.

Audio:
One thing that has always accompanied Minecraft is a soundtrack that relaxes the senses. The same is true here despite the epic combat I described earlier. Not that you’ll be falling asleep while fighting the undead, but Dungeons favors a more new age musical score over an overly dramatic symphonic opus.

Some great narration carries the story along and great effects enhance the combat visuals. Beyond that there isn’t much going on in the sound department, but the job gets done well enough.

Online/Multiplayer:
I mostly played this game offline… mostly. But, I did try some online just to test stability. I didn’t run into any issues. Dungeons is a game that you will want to play with friends, and at the time of this writing, the only limitation I encountered was the lack of mixed play, meaning, two people on the same couch playing with someone online. It’s not a deal-breaking feature, but it’s a welcomed one when it’s there, because sometimes my wife wanted to join my online game and I could only choose one or the other.

I’ve heard some rumors that this might be an added feature in the future, as well as cross play, which would be awesome too.

There are some minor gameplay choices that I wasn’t a fan of. For example, I couldn’t figure out a way to pass along a weapon to my wife while playing. Since the game reserves drops for the players (while you’re playing offline), it would often reserve a weapon or armor that I didn’t care for. I could not opt to pass it along, nor could I drop it for her to pick up. So often drops were completely wasted, save for destroying them for cash. I would have taken either allowing me to pass them along when they dropped, or simply letting me drop them. I could tell she was frustrated because things would drop that she wanted but there was no obvious way for her to acquire them.

Conclusion:
Minecraft Dungeons will scratch that little itch you might have while waiting for Diablo 4. Or perhaps you don’t care for dungeon crawlers and only love the Minecraft games. In either case, this entry in the series is a well-developed game that should entertain.

Its strengths come in multiplayer, and there is a strong co-op game here with plenty to do. Factor in that budget price, and you’ve got a winner during the summer months, especially if you’re stuck at home.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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