boxart
Game Info:

Minecraft
Developer: Mojang
Publisher: Mojang
Release date: November 18, 2011
Available on: PC, Mac, Xbox 360, Linux, Mobile (Android and iOS)
Genre: First-person sandbox RPG
Single and Multiplayer

Your eyes open. You’re on a beach. You look down at your tattered clothing, and you can’t help but notice that everything you owned, everything you carried, is gone. You have nothing with which to defend yourself from the world around but your two blocky fists. You need to find shelter before nightfall, but you have no shovel, no axe. You see a tree, and walk to it. You need tools, and the key to making them lies in its wondrous square logs. With no other choice, you begin to slam your fists into the trunk again and again. Your knuckles should be bruised and bloody, but your hand-cubes stay strong. In just a few moments, the tree is reduced to mere floating blips on the ground, and with a few odd popping noises they fly into your backpack. Now, with some basic supplies, your adventure may begin.

These are the first moments of every Minecrafter’s life. There are no real spoilers to this game, because you are free to do anything you want. Fancy yourself a mile-wide castle? Just maintain the patience of gathering materials. Want to discover the riches of your world? Explore the winding caves that snake through the ground under your square feet, or perhaps dig down to the very bottom of the world and mine away to your hearts’ desire. Nightfall brings darkness, and with it come hordes of terrible monsters that will satiate your appetite for adventure. Also available to those who consider themselves warriors is the Nether, a hellish and demented world accessed via a portal, and the End, the aptly-named endgame world featuring legions of Endermen and the fearsome Ender Dragon. There is even the option of growing wheat, pumpkins, and watermelon for those who like to farm, along with animal breeding.

What really makes Minecraft great is the sandbox gameplay. You can do all of the aforementioned tasks in a “legit” fashion, gathering materials by hand, or enter the game’s Creative mode and receive instant and unlimited access to any material. A quick YouTube or Google search will show both the least and the most imaginative works by people in the Minecraft community: some are content to live in their mud huts, while others prefer a cushier lifestyle in their golden throne rooms. In that respect, the replayability of the game is virtually endless—so long as one can keep the imagination flowing, of course. The gameplay is, sadly, occasionally affected by glitches and bugs, but almost all of them are more than outshined by the fun of the game itself.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Over 200 crafting recipes and a Creative Mode offer endless hours of gameplay, and a thriving community makes playing with others exceptionally fun.
Weak Points:The game still feels buggy and unpolished at the time of writing; griefers plague many servers.
Moral Warnings: There's a hell realm, containing vast seas of lava and darker creatures.

The Minecraft community is an incredible resource for those who get lost at some point in their adventure. Because the game has no tutorial, many have taken it upon themselves to create resources for others. The community is also a vast source of resources with which you may change your game to suit your preferences. Texture packs, adventure maps (downloadable maps with a set task or plot), modifications, and general inspiration for building are all examples of community efforts. People both on the official forums and YouTube have created both visually awe-inspiring and technically impressive creations, and there are multitudes of servers to join others. Multiplayer is an especially important part of the game, for it makes large projects easier to take on and allows others to see your creations in-game. Towns spring up around impressive geological features, and community projects can be awe-inspiring. More importantly, it’s just plain and simple fun. Think of it as grown-up Legos, except filled with things that want to kill you.

The technical breakdown of Minecraft is where the game begins to show its more frustrating side. The controls are the standard WASD format, though this may be changed via the in-game menu. The game is also quite buggy at times, and much of the gameplay feels unpolished, especially for an official release. Things that seemed acceptable in Alpha or Beta release, which included occasional visual glitches, animals bugging out and shifting over fences, and other minor bugs, plague the game. However, the game is regularly updated and many of these bugs are in the process of being fixed.

It’s not an especially inspiring game musically, but the sounds fit with the overall feel of the game. Most of us who have played the game have come to love the satisfying “thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-POP” of mining and the odd crunch of grass under our blocky feet. There are musical records that can be obtained in-game, and these can be played on player-crafted record players to add additional atmosphere to the game. 

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 19/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls 5/5

Morality Score - 89%
Violence - 7.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Graphically speaking, Minecraft doesn’t have much room to boast, either. It must be remembered that the game is intentionally blocky and sometimes even cheesy: even the watermelons grow into cubes. That being said, the graphics are still fairly unimpressive nonetheless. This is especially annoying when the fairly steep system requirements are taken into account. When I bought the game, my laptop was under six months old. However, I had to keep the render distance on “short” so the game wouldn’t lag. Toning down the graphics settings can drastically help this, but such an action detracts from an already lacking aspect of the game. One’s visual experience can also be improved through the use of community-made texture packs and mods.

As for family-friendliness, I would say that Minecraft can range anywhere from Legoland-Innocent to Fighting-Cartoonish-Monsters-Violent. There are monsters, undead and otherwise, that live in caves and spawn on the surface at night. However, all of these can be removed from the game by changing the difficulty setting to “Peaceful.” You don’t even have to kill animals for food if you’re of the vegetarian persuasion, provided you grow watermelon and wheat.

There is no sexual content or swearing in the game, but multiplayer experiences may vary. Some servers have very lax rules and do not regulate players' language or behavior, but there are a number of Christian servers available to play on, including ours, which can be found at http://mc.ccgr.org

Occult references don’t exist in the game per se, but there is an accessible dimension called the Nether. This can only be accessed by gathering Obsidian to make a portal, which then must be lit with fire to activate, so it is entirely avoidable. It is essentially a hell realm, containing vast seas of lava and darker creatures than are found in the normal game world. Magic is also present in the game, but is only used to enchant some items and to craft potions.

This game has given me more hours of gameplay that most of my other game purchases over the last few years combined. I would actually be reluctant or embarrassed to release my total numbers of gameplay, but that is an evidence of the addictive nature of the game. It was around 20 dollars when I bought it at Alpha release—it is now around $26—and it has given me more satisfaction than most of my 40 or 50 dollar game purchases. All in all, when deciding on whether to purchase this game, consider this: if you need a structure, a plot, or even a basic structure in a game, avoid this at all costs. However, if you have an active imagination, have a mind for construction, enjoy flexibility and freedom, or even just want something to kill time, Minecraft can offer something for everyone.

People in this conversation

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  • Guest - SHODASAW

    I have recently quit "Minecraft" Due to the fact that, not only does this game have "occult" things, (witchcraft, evil monsters and demonic beings), but the mere fact that this game was created with such things, even if you avoid them, does make it evil. When I first started playing this game i was not Saved, so when i was Saved the game didn't initially send up a red flag. Wanna know why? Cause i was ADDICTED to it. I spent AT LEAST 10 hrs a day on it. My intention was to use it as a outlet for spreading the Gospel. But what eventually happened was that i wanted to play the game more then work for God. I have been banned from several servers for spreading the Gospel of peace, :) i don't know how many lives i may have touched, but all in all, before allowing any child to play this game, or ANY game for that matter, Pray about it, and don't fall victim to addiction!

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  • Guest - Laura

    In reply to: Guest - SHODASAW

    Thanks for your honest review. As I mentioned to another reviewer, this game was created by the initial programmer Markus Persson (aka Notch) and then Jens Bergensten (also called Jeb) who are both atheist. Jens was responsible for bringing the occult to the the game. I'm shocked at how many Christian forums are actually approving this game for their youth. Yes, the game IS addictive. Why would satan want it any other way? He wants as much of our time as he can get. People get angry when you start knocking this game because they are sensitive to their own addiction to it. My hope is to shed light to our Christian community - reaching out to parents and helping to warn against a game that looks so innocent. Satan is the master deceiver - remember the garden?

    from Murfreesboro, TN, USA
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  • Guest - Shannon Pritchard

    Our family are, scratch that, were not, video gamers, in fact were anti video game. But we have found this game to be fun and even educational. It requires serious thinking to stay alive and serious drive to thrive. Basically it is just like building a life in the real world, but the satisfaction of a job well done or an improvement in lifestyle due to hard work is rewarded much faster than in the real world. We stay away from the sorcery/witchcraft aspects, which actually take away from the game in my opinion. Not just because of our Christian views, but also because s a "potion" or "enchantment" make the world artificially easy; never a good thing to teach.
    It is as so much fun that I, a 50 year old man, enjoy it as much as my 9 year old son.l We play together.
    Be CAREFUL it is addictive!!!!

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  • Guest - Micah

    For my opinion, Minecraft is the best game in the world. With over 100,000,000 skins + the skins you can make everybody is different. It has gotten to over 1,000,000 players and i'm glad to see that there is now a christian based place where you can talk about Minecraft.

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  • Guest - Yadi

    My son wants me to get him this game and I am concerned about interaction with other people. Can he play this game alone without getting solicited by others? How do I arrange that?

    from Tampa, FL, USA
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  • There is a single-player mode so if you don't want him playing online have him play that.

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  • Guest - Watchman

    Take Heed Of The Following Before Recommending This Game!

    Galatians 5:19-21
    King James Version (KJV)
    19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

    20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

    21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

    0 Like Short URL:
  • Guest - Laura

    In reply to: Guest - Watchman

    Thank you for your comment regarding Minecraft. Myself and a friend are researching this game and it's ***ociation to Slenderman (game). Minecraft was created by an atheist (Markus Persson aka Notch) and then handed over to another atheist (Jens Bergensten, also called Jeb). I am appalled at how many Christian sites are approving of this game for our youth. If they actually took the time to do some real research, they would clearly see how concerning this actually is.

    from Murfreesboro, TN, USA
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  • Guest - amberchick

    I play on the Minecraft server they have and I LOVE IT! It's a great game and allowes you to be creative and interact with other people. I love this game and I SERIOUSLY recommend it.

    from Helotes, TX 78023, USA
    1 Like Short URL:
  • I don't know why people don't appreciate Minecraft, I like it. The way I see it, everything in the world is a tool. In it of itself any tool is not bad, and not good (exceptions would be things specifically made for bad purposes that can't be used for anything else). Minecraft is a world full of virtual blocks, so lets take those blocks and think about the many uses of them. On the good side, they can be used for educational purposes, for creativity, for enjoyment, and whatnot. On the bad side they could be used for hurting someone (throwing, hitting, etc), forming inappropriate language or symbols, or anything else bad you could use them for.

    ---

    Anyway, my point is that Minecraft in it of itself is not bad, its how you use it that makes it bad (one BIG example is addiction).

    Use it well!

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