Posted May 11, 2014 by Adam in Previews

Block Story (PC) Preview

Block Story Main Image
Block Story Main Image

We recruit a couple of Minecraft addicts to help preview Block Story, a more story focused RPG take on the popular sandbox game.

Block Story riffs pretty heavily from the Minecraft genre of sandbox mining/crafting games. The main difference here is that, as you’ve guessed from the game’s title, there is a story arc to cover the gameplay. This is very light touch however, no cutscenes or intros are made and in reality there’s very little narrative . This does give a bit more direction to the gameplay than Minecraft does, as the story mode starts you from scratch and takes you through the basics of gathering and then crafting items which then helps you progress through the story.

Story might be a bit of a generous term to use for this game however, there isn’t really much in the way of a plot arc. The story is basically just a series of objectives to help steer the player along the otherwise completely open sandbox world. Gathering basic supplies to begin with, and then crafting your first set of tools. Another feature of the game are NPCs that roam the sandbox world who will give you quests which can involve gathering supplies in order to have them follow you or building a fort. These are a neat addition and help make you feel a little less isolated from the world than Minecraft. However, in some cases they appear far outside any villages or hamlets where the characters simply float around on the open rocky terrain. As a result of this they seem out of place and a bit lost.

Block Story image 3

As well as the NPCs, the game boasts a generous amount of animal life, from sharks to sheep. Even T-Rexes, giant arachnids and strange alien like creatures also feature. And there’s Dragon too. Because of Skyrim and Game Of Thrones. Oh and you can fly too for a short period of time (infinite on creative mode). It’s here where Block Story feels like a game of excess. Stuff thrown in because it can be. There’s no cohesive reason behind a lot of the game content which again plays against the concept of this being a story driven game, rather than a simple attempt to out-do Minecraft.

Graphically, the game obviously fairs a little better here. While the blocky world is present and correct, the textures are of a significantly higher resolution, particularly when looking at the sky or other characters, animals and weapons. The game certainly isn’t the same eyesore that Minecraft is, but it’s not significantly better and once again the world has to be looked at from a distance to be fully appreciated. However there are some serious optimisation issues with the current early-access code on steam. Despite having all settings cranked up to the max there was a real issue with the game rendering distant objects. The draw distance felt almost as bad as the PS2 era of games, where looking out any further than a few meters in front of you just resulted in a blank fog of nothing. This becomes all the more apparent when the flight mode is activated in free roam, where the game struggles to render the upcoming landscape quickly enough. However this is early-access, and no doubt some optimisation may need to be done. Part of this issue could be due to the fact that the game has been ported over to Android and iOS devices which allows you to sync up your gameplay across all three platforms, which is a stunningly neat feature and one that will be a blessing for parent whose kids are playing through this game before needing to go on a long car drive.

Block Story image 2

Ultimately though, a game like this isn’t really designed for the 30 year old non-Minecraft enthusiast. Thankfully I just so happened to have a nine year old Minecraft addicted brother, and my friend’s nine year old minecraft addicted son, visit me on the same day. So I sat the pair of them down and let them play through the game to gauge their thoughts.

Surprisingly, both of them really enjoyed the game and it’s more RPG focused take on the open sandbox crafting world. Each one spent over an hour on the game happily playing away and completing the objectives of the story mode. The creative mode opens up all possible weapons and items which are varied and numerous, and this also drew some excited feedback, particularly where the open flight mode is concerned. It’s clear that the game has more accessibility and direction than Minecraft, but the accidental result of this is that creativity seems to take a back seat. Neither of the boys started to work on fortifications or houses, or creating anything for that matter. They just simply rattled through the objectives in the same way that you would with any other game. It took some of the “sandbox” out of the “sandbox” title which is a shame. The graphics were also commented upon, with both stating that they looked really nice (despite being clearly inferior to most other games that they would have played).

Block Story image 1

The verdict from both boys was that the game was enjoyable and something that they would consider buying. “Was it as good as Minecraft?” was the obvious question that I couldn’t help asking. “Ummmm, no” was the response from both. While the game really engaged and entertained them, and they did like it, it clearly doesn’t have quite the same magic and charm that would keep them playing for years on end.

Block Story shows a lot of promise at the moment assuming the early-access is built upon for a gold release, however the core “story” part of that title feels lacking at this moment in time and lacks any real depth, scope or coherence. The rest is Minecraft with some bells and whistles, but ultimately a lessened focus on freedom and creativity. Which may make this game a perfect alternative to Minecraft addicts, or simply serve as an interesting distraction for a little while.

Block Story is available now on Steam for early access, as well as Android and iOS devices.


Playing games since I'd developed enough motor functions to hold a joystick. From Commodore 64 all the way through to the latest gen. Favourite games to play are FPS games and anything with a deep and compelling story and a world that draws you in. I also enjoy writing, film making and playing bass in whatever band will have me :)