Minecraft Dungeons is a welcome addition to a popular series

Brittany Vincent, CNN Underscored
Updated Fri May 22, 2020

Minecraft is a household name for both casual and hardcore gamers. Despite the fact that it officially released in 2011, it's still captivating audiences around the globe with its clever mix of building and light survival elements, depending on the mode.

Despite that versatility, the brand has sparked just a few offshoots. Up until now, fans have only had the chance to dabble with the adventure game Minecraft: Story Mode and AR app Minecraft Earth.

That's all changing with the introduction of Minecraft Dungeons.

And it is exactly what the title implies: a dungeon crawler set within the Minecraft universe. Heavily inspired by games like Diablo, it aims to show fans a different side of the series that focuses on slaying randomly generated monsters, figuring out puzzles and picking up treasures. It might sound crazy for a Minecraft adventure, but after having had time with it, it works quite well.

Minecraft Dungeons is a bold move on developer Mojang's part, and it's a gamble that pays off well. Players travel through a variety of randomly generated dungeons as they slay monsters, rescue villagers and collect tons of loot.

The gist is simple. There's no overly complicated story to follow or lore to memorize. Your blocky heroes have their work cut out for them. The evil villager has summoned minions to keep you from making any further sojourns into each dungeon, and it's your job to wipe them out.

You can attach largely any story you want to the gameplay format.

Using a variety of melee attacks, formidable weapons and spells, you have to clear out hordes of enemies as you explore labyrinthine dungeons, all done up in familiar Minecraft style. You'll recognize some of the areas, as they seem pulled straight from the "regular" Minecraft worlds, from lava-filled caves to snowy tundras. While it's fun to marvel at the variety of landscapes within, there's one important goal: getting to the end of each level.

A variety of enemies will attack you, from wizards to archers. The game will allow you to slay them in typical hack-and-slash fashion or use more tact, so strategy can play a major role when you're faced with swarms of bad guys. Battles can become frenzied and chaotic, so you need to think of a different approach other than "run in and kill everything" on higher difficulties.

But that's all part of what makes the game so fun. It's silly, Minecraft-esque hack-and-slash action with a loot-centric RPG skin on top of it, and as you gain levels and additional powers, things become more challenging. It never ceases being fun, even when most of the levels begin to resemble each other.

The Minecraft factor, whether you're playing solo or with a friend with the game's excellent co-op factor, is undeniably present. With brief bits of narration and believable, fun characters that fit right into the game's mythos, it's the natural evolution of a "normal" Minecraft game into something much different. It's filled with fun Minecraft staples and references, yet manages to present a new gameplay experience.

Minecraft Dungeons is an action-packed thrill ride perfect for anyone looking to get more out of the game's expansive universe. Look for a full review after we've had more time to experience what it has to offer. You can preorder Minecraft Dungeons ahead of the May 26 launch for PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed price at the time of publication.