Slap on those knee-pads and prepare to crawl your ass off! Brought to us by Mojang, the developers of the best-selling title of all time Minecraft, comes the dungeon crawling spin-off with the same name– Minecraft Dungeons. This is an easy transition from the original title considering its sandbox style game play and basic box design. While the games is not a visually stunning masterpiece, it has a playful quality in a typically dramatic and eerie landscape crawling with evil creatures.  Slay the hordes and level-up, loot drops and chests for new weapons and gear, complete the missions and take down the final boss; It essentially feels more like a play-doh version of Diablo, but who doesn’t like play-doh?

In this re-imagination you make your way through the ever more challenging levels dispatching waves of blocky badies. In combat you can wield various melee weapons or unleash a volley of arrows with a selection of bows. Skills are obtained through artifacts that you acquire either through drops or through the wandering trader located inside your camp. These artifacts can unleash powerful attacks, effects that aid you and summon creatures to fight at your side. This allows for versatility in your play style rather than having to confine yourself to a specific character class and skill tree. The game furthers this versatility through enchantment points. Every time that you level up you receive one enchantment point. Redeem these points by unlocking various enchantments on your weapons and armor that apply buffs to your gear. Fortunately you can recover these points simply buy salvaging the gear you applied them to. As you acquire newer, more powerful weapons and armor, you can redistribute the points. This keeps combat fresh and entertaining in a genre that tends to become mundane and repetitive. 

Minecraft Dungeons is currently avaliable for PC, PS4, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch. It was released boasting cross-platform multiplayer capabilities, although full functionality of this online multiplier is currently unavailable until the first DLC arrives in early July. In the meantime, you are still able to play multiplayer with friends with the same console. I consider this to be one of the biggest pros for the game, considering it is currently free to subscribers of Xbox game pass. Thankfully, all loot drops from chests and enemies are made available to each party member, although the gear received is a random roll for each person. Having played both the Xbox and Nintendo Switch versions, I feel that while the games is fundamentally the same, it feels much smoother and natural on the Switch. A great game for the handheld to play casually at home or over local connection with others.

As you make your way through the game you level up fairly quickly with the current level cap under some debate online. I have read multiple estimates, but currently it is believed that it is 110+ as the most difficult dungeons require such levels. What takes the most time is completing the dungeons themselves. More difficult dungeons can require close to twenty minutes to complete, if you try to complete them in there entirety, even longer. Each dungeon records your completion percentage at the end of each mission, in finding all the treasure and defeating every enemy. This is where I feel the game really suffers. If it were not for the games mini-map HUD these dungeons would be next to impossible to navigate. Battling countless enemies down hidden lengthy corridors in the nooks and cranny’s of the map; you finally arrive at the end. A perfect place for a treasure chest full of loot, only in Minecraft Dungeons you find absolutely nothing. This happened to me on multiple occasions on various maps and felt like a total waste of time. Adding insult to injury, you then stroll up to the middle of a large open area.. and there slightly offset to the left.. sits a chest. Poorly placed treasure and awkward cliffs that you struggle to find your way up are some of the annoyances that can make you set this crawler down.

While Minecraft Dungeons is a far cry from its namesake, it provides a fun new way to enjoy Mojang’s star title. For those who are desperately waiting for the release of Diablo 4, here is a welcome distraction for that far off release date. I would recommend picking up a copy or digital download and teaming up with friends to grind some levels and find that epic loot. If you can look past some of the games quirks and superficial issues, Minecraft Dungeons delivers in a simplistic yet enjoyable hack n’ slash. With two new DLCs already announced you can look forward to the additions and adjustments that are sure to come with them.

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