Minecraft is famous for its Creative mode – the option which gives an endless supply of digital Lego for you to play around with. It’s the place people build replicas of their universities or the Sistine Chapel or that big tower from Lord of the Rings. But for me, Minecraft has always been about its Survival offering. There, the blocks I build with are ones I’ve dug out the earth myself, while having to fight off monsters and chomp down on baked potatoes in order to keep going.
Minecraft has always been an RPG, is what I’m trying to say. And so while Minecraft Dungeons might sound an unlikely concept – a more accessible Diablo with Creepers – it ends up feeling a natural extension of the formula. Minecraft is defined by its gameplay loop of delving underground for resources, then surfacing back into the sunshine to build. Dungeons’ levels simply dole out their prizes in return for defeating Minecraft’s enemies, rather than asking you to pickaxe gemstones out of walls.
Start to finish, Dungeons is not a long game. It hosts nine biomes, each of which holds a level based around a particular theme, with a couple of secret areas thrown in for good measure. Contrary to its name, most of these biomes are actually not dungeons at all, but ruined villages or desert plains, swamps, canyons, castles and pastures. Each has a particular gimmick – such as the Redstone Mines, which laces its level with fast-moving minecart tracks that continually criss-cross your path like tinsel down a Christmas tree. It’s bad news for you if you’re standing in the way when a minecart comes through, or good news if you’ve herded enemies into its path instead. It’s also the first place you meet the hulking Redstone Golem, one of the game’s most punishing mini-bosses, who’ll punt you into the nearest lava pool if you as much as glance in its direction.