Game Review – Minecraft (Part I)

Minecraft. Even if you don’t play games, you’ve probably heard the name. With over 200,000,000 copies sold (as of the time this post was written), it currently stands as the highest-selling game of all time, and it holds that spot for good reason. Minecraft is a game that holds a special place in my heart, and there’s so much I could say about it. So much, in fact, that I won’t be able to get through everything I want to say here without splitting this review into two parts.

In this first half, I’ll be taking a more general approach, going through the core game and talking about what makes it so iconic.

The second half will be a more personal look at the game and the way I like to play, including a tour of my save file.

Official art for version 1.16, the Nether update.

Now then, let’s get into the review. Minecraft is an open-world sandbox title, which is to say it can be played in any multitude of ways. As is implied by the game’s title, the core gameplay revolves around mining and crafting. You travel the world’s biomes, collect resources to build yourself a base, and gear up to face increasingly difficult challenges. The most basic end goal is to reach the aptly-named End Dimension and defeat the Ender Dragon, but there’s so much more to the game beyond that.

First, there’s the building aspect. With the blocks you collect, you can build pretty much anything your heart desires. You can custom-design your own house, your own farms, your own statues, anything! You’ll also discover various pre-generated structures throughout the world, in case you want inspiration or valuable loot. To top all that off, you also get to choose whether you want the satisfaction of hunting down materials yourself in Survival Mode or having limitless materials and the ability to fly in Creative Mode.

For those people with an inventive mind, you can also try messing around with redstone, which is essentially this game’s equivalent to electricity. With it, you can semi-automate certain tasks, like farming and smelting. It can be used to move objects, creating secret bases and TNT cannons. You can build a railway system with it, to help you get around faster. If you really want to challenge yourself, you can try your hand at making more complex machines. Some players have even created basic computers in-game!

Another option that’s recently become popular is speedrunning. There’s a certain thrill in trying to complete a game as fast as humanly possible, and Minecraft is no exception to this. The record is currently held by Couriway in version 1.16.1, at an astounding 14 minutes 36 seconds… it blows my mind, how people can reach the Ender Dragon so quickly. As of late, the topic’s gotten a lot of traction on YouTube, for a multitude of reasons. No, I will not comment on the Dream cheating scandal, RNG manipulation is a subject far beyond my understanding. You’ll need a lot of luck and precision if you want to try speedrunning, and it’s something I can’t even hope to do with my current computer, but it’s still something interesting to look into.

The biggest thing that drives this game’s continued success, however, is the massive community behind it. If there are a dozen playstyles in the single-player experience, there are hundreds of playstyles in multi-player, thousands of servers to choose from, and hundreds of thousands of players you could potentially interact with. No two players will ever have the same Minecraft experience, and that’s pretty neat.

A screenshot from the MC Championship Season 1 finale.

You’ve got your basic survival servers, where you just play the game at your own pace. It can be just a normal world… or you can try switching things up, with custom downloadable maps built by other players. There’s parkour courses, custom survival challenges, redstone puzzles, you name it. You don’t necessarily have to do it with other people, but the option’s always available. You can play with people nearby via LAN connection, or if you’re far apart, it’s even possible to buy a server just for yourself and a few friends!

Then there are servers dedicated to multiplayer activities. Some, like Hypixel and Mineplex, host custom minigames for you to take part in. Whether you like 1v1s, teams, or battle royales, there’s something out there for you. If you fancy yourself a good builder, you can take part in a wide range of building challenges. If you just want to flex your skills and fight other players to the death, there’s a wide range of options for that too.

Of course, some servers offer entirely unique experiences. Wynncraft is a fully-fledged MMORPG with its own lore and game mechanics and graphics, developed to the point where you almost forget you’re playing Minecraft. 2B2T, the oldest anarchy server in Minecraft, is a land without rules, where hackers thrive and destruction runs rampant… yet somehow, even in such a toxic environment, groups of players still band together, creating builds that rival the Uncensored Library in both size and scope.

If even this isn’t enough for you, the game also has a huge modding community. Some mods simply exist to provide general quality-of-life improvements, such as lag reduction and graphical updates. Others add new content to the game, like Pixelmon and Archimedes’ Ships. Some even add entirely new dimensions, as is the case with the Aether and Twilight Forest. Do keep in mind, however, that these are not made or supported by the developers at Mojang Studios. As such, exercise proper caution and do your research before downloading any add-ons or mods.

You may have noticed this already, but Minecraft doesn’t have a lot of roundness to it. Indeed, this game is designed around square pixels and cuboid shapes, with no curves to be found. Some may say this is a downside… but I don’t think so. No, it’s a design quirk, one which gives this game its distinctive visual style. Sure, it may at times limit your building options, but you really only need to think outside the box.

On that note, I’m going to conclude the first half of my Minecraft review. I’m not sure exactly when the second half is going to come out, but it should hopefully be within the next week, so stay tuned for that. For now, I’ll leave you with this screenshot of my character, posing in front of the aquarium I built in my world.

On that note, I’m going to conclude the first half of my Minecraft review. I’m not sure exactly when the second half is going to come out, but it should hopefully be within the next week, so stay tuned for that. For now, I’ll leave you with this screenshot of my character, posing in front of the aquarium I built in my world.