Block Story is MindBlocks Studio’s attempt at a voxel based RPG, which is a genre that many dev’s are now exploring or merging existing concepts into. Block Story is no different; it fuses several existing game mechanics into its colorful and cuboid world. Block Story started life as a mobile game/app and has made the transition to PC and unfortunately in its current form it feels, looks, and plays exactly like that – a phone app. There are some interesting points but mostly everything feels dull and bland after prolonged periods of play.
Firstly, lets start with the UI. It’s big and chunky looking, and you can tell that it’s designed with touch screen devices in mind. The world – whilst colorful, lacks any kind of real feeling of weight or distinction. Strange visual anomalies such as seeing massive chunks of land mass floating in the sky add to this feeling of an un-cohesive world, everything feels disconnected. Textures are for the most part ok, on a few character models they lack quality, but it’s the water blocks that are the most puzzling as they are almost transparent with a faint blue tint being the only way of distinguishing them at night or at certain angles. On the small screens of mobile devices this might be forgiven, but for the average PC gamer with decent sized monitors Block Story’s visuals just don’t cut it.
Now we all know graphics don’t make a game and with that in mind let’s discuss the areas where Block Story shows the most promise and that’s its RPG elements. Having quest giving characters helps give Block Story a sense of direction that most voxel sandboxes don’t have, or in some cases they try to avoid altogether. It adds a nice change of pace to actually have an objective and it’s just a shame that for the most part, quests are nothing more than “kill x many of y type of mob” or “collect x many of y type or item.” It’s an area that has some great potential to be tied into the exploration side of things, but as it stands it’s very light on its ability to keep you entertained.
Another promising area Block Story has is the ability to conjure up a companion ‘pet’ to assist you in your travels, and there is an interesting variety to choose from. Without any real quests to get your teeth into the pets are limited to just being damage sponges whilst you chip away at the mobs, which leads me to point out that there is a great number of different critters to slay whilst out in the wilderness. The crafting system also deserves a mention as it contains a wealth of different things to make, and a great number of weapons to yield, but the combat feels unbalanced and linear, taking much of the joy out of your new shiny toys.
One feature that is surprisingly not included is co-operative play. It seems bewildering to not have it included and I hope that MindBlocks Studio considers adding it in at a later date. An open world sandbox RPG like this would benefit greatly from having the ability to party up with some friends to quest and build with, and as it stands Block Story is a very lonely experience.
Block Story is a title that needs a lot of work. It feels very much like a mobile game that has just been ported over to the PC platform with minor adjustments. While the mobile and tablet market might find Block Story acceptable, its distinct lack of content and polish really drags it down on the PC. It might be a title that will get better with updates and patches, which is the essence of the current early access trend, but with massive question marks being held over this relatively new business model thanks to the whole Towns debacle, you might be feeling very cautious as to how you invest your money.
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