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Minecraft Dungeons brings the friendly world of Minecraft to the dungeon-crawler genre in a fun and engaging way. Think Diablo or The Binding Of Isaac, but with more colours and less gore. You can forget everything you know about the original, inspirational sandbox game however, apart from the beautifully blocky aesthetic, as you won't need to mine diamonds or craft your way to the Ender Dragon here.
Dungeons has you exploring vast, branching, procedurally generated levels with up to three friends (local or online), looting and defeating every enemy in your path on a quest to take down the evil Arch-Illager, who found a powerful orb and is using it to rule the overworld with his horde of zombies, creepers, golems, evokers and even more dastardly devils than you could stuff into an Ender Chest.
The story is very linear and pretty basic, but that doesn't make it boring at all. The narration before each chapter makes me feel as if I'm in a children's storybook, and my inner-kid loves it! As you advance you'll discover epic new loot, be it weapons, armour or artifacts to use in battle.
My favourite part of Minecraft is exploring the infinite world, experiencing all the weird and wonderful biomes. Dungeons encapsulates this, catering to my lust for adventure. Each level is unique, whether you're making your way through a glamorous castle, a desert temple or a fiery forge - I never feel like I'm playing through an area I've seen before.
It's quickly made clear that to really best each level, weapons and armour need to be enchanted with specific upgrades. For example, if I'm facing a lot of zombies, I can equip a sword that does extra damage to undead mobs. I found a 'Corrupted Beacon' that zaps a continuous beam at whatever I'm facing, destroying everything in its wake. To charge this power up, however, I needed to collect souls. To do that, I enchanted a particular bow so it collects 100% more souls, and upgraded my armour so the artifact does 50% more damage - basically turning me into the Terminator.
The creativity that the player has in Dungeons is unlike any dungeon-crawler I've played, especially as you don't pick a class at the beginning of your playthrough. You can be what you want, when you want, and I think that's pretty neat.
The difficulty increases by quite a margin the further into the game you get, but when I die, I'm not annoyed like I would be with many other games. I just realise I need to take a slightly different approach. There's a hub world called the 'Camp' where you can spend your hard-earned gems on new gear - or just potter about, calm down and relax before the chaos ensues.
As Dungeons is yet to go public, there's no online community at the time of reviewing it. I made my game joinable in the hope that a fellow reviewer may jump into my world and kick ass with me. But alas, no one joined. I can only imagine how much fun Dungeons will be when playing in a full squad. Naturally, the more players, the harder your quest is going to be.
Minecraft Dungeons does play incredibly well as a single-player game too, though. I want to traverse the next stunning location and upgrade my awesome abilities so much so that I lose track of time. And it's incredibly easy to become fully immersed in this fantasy world, so much so that the campaign's ending arrives rather sooner than you might expect.
One of the reasons why I love Minecraft is because it doesn't end. It's a game of endless possibilities. So on reaching the game's final boss, I have to remind myself that Dungeons is a different type of game and that more content is being added in the near future, as well as cross-platform play. Which is to say, this isn't over when the credits roll.
If you're a seasoned veteran of dungeon-crawlers, the combat in Minecraft Dungeons may be a little simplistic for you. This isn't a knock, as it was designed to be as undemanding as possible, and feels very fluid to me. When I perfectly line up a load of enemies to take them all out in one go, it's astonishingly satisfying. Once you complete the story, you can play through the levels again on a much harder difficulty to find even more impressive loot to show off to your mates.
Minecraft Dungeons is an enchanting game that will keep you, and your kids, entertained for a good few hours. A decade on from the original game, this is an exciting move for the behemoth that is the Minecraft franchise, and I can't wait to see where it goes next.
Minecraft Dungeons is released on May 26, and was reviewed on PC using code supplied by the publisher. It's also available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores, here.
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