The article you are about to read is not a review of the PC version of Minecraft.
After seven hours of playing Survival mode, I cannot write a proper review for this game. I got hopelessly lost and restarted three times, so my experience with Minecraft’s experience was rather shallow. For example, I didn’t:
- See Redstone Ore bricks (mined to make Redstone, an item that powers other items)
- See Diamond Ore bricks (mined to make an important building material for weapons, armor, and tools)
- Make an enchantment table
- Arrive in the Nether or The End (this means that I also didn’t “finish” Minecraft)
I feel that a proper review is off the table. But I can write an article about the game.
Surely, you have an opinion about Minecraft. It’s an important and well-known game. Buy Minecraft toys & posters at Wal-Mart! I’m not here to change or validate your preexisting impression. This article exists because I don’t like Minecraft.
Here’s my main problem with Minecraft’s Survival mode: the game pretends to be about exploration, but it actively punishes you for exploring.
The PC version drops you into the middle of a gigantic world without navigational tools or any indication of what to do (other than an achievement system that forces new players to seek-out info online). Other open-world games have helpful mini-maps of your immediate surroundings, but that isn’t Minecraft’s style.
This game wants you to get lost. I say this because Minecraft doesn’t provide basic tools of navigation (until you can craft them) except for breadcrumbs. Seriously. The best way I found to not get lost was to place torches everywhere and hope that I remember what they indicate.
I placed many torches and regularly got lost. My surroundings consisted solely of hills, wooded hills, hills surrounded by water, and caverns with abrupt, awkward dead-ends. With no landmarks or tools, I really didn’t know where to go most of the time. If you die, you can forget about finding your old ‘base’ or your corpse because it respawns you in the middle of the world.
There is a way around this respawn issue: sleeping in a bed sets your respawn point to the bed’s position. If you didn’t already know this before playing Minecraft, the game determines that you’re an idiot who is unworthy of assistance.
This wouldn’t be so bad if Minecraft allowed you to play slowly. But its quick day-night cycle imposes strict time restraints that punish thoughtful play. And trust me, you don’t want to be out at night. The archer skeletons alone are a major reason for staying indoors. If you think that you are ready with iron armor and nice weapons, the game spawns a wizard pig who poisons you. In Minecraft, poison is a death sentence. I think that there’s a cure for it, but I can’t be bothered to read hundreds of wiki pages to find out because I’d rather spend my time writing a negative article about Minecraft for The Internet.
Why explore at all? You need to eat and gather new materials to progress through the game. To meet both needs, you must explore.
You can’t play quickly because it’s too easy to get lost. You can’t play slowly because a wizard pig (who doesn’t look like Wizpig from Diddy Kong Racing) will wreck you. And you can’t stay in a well-known area because you’ll eventually starve to death (unless you grow wheat or something).
Minecraft (Survival mode) is not my idea of fun.