JOYSTiCK Holiday Special – Can you beat ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ without experiencing permanent PTSD?

By: Daniel Kendle

Happy holidays!

While writing for JOYSTiCK, I’ve always enjoyed playing and reviewing games (good thing too; if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here). However, I thought it would be nice to take a break and do something a little… dumb. But fun!

Now, lately I’ve been writing a lot of ‘Minecraft’ related articles. My last one was on ‘Minecraft Dungeons,’ a charming spin-off title, and the one before that I’m unable to pronounce without dry-heaving. And lucky for me, THAT’S the one we’re going back to today!

Gaming challenges are always fun to check out. Whether it be minimalist challenges, pacifist runs, “not using ____” play through, you name it. All very fun and interesting ideas to spice up a game you’ve already played.

So what if we did that? How about we begin an annual holiday special dedicated towards doing a gaming challenge? How about we ask the following question:

“CAN YOU BEAT ‘MINECRAFT STORY MODE’ WITHOUT EXPERIENCING PERMANENT PTSD?”

This might be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. And while it may seem daunting, I am prepared for the journey ahead. Will I survive? Will I defeat this arch-enemy of a game, never having to play it ever again? Will I sustain lethal brain damage by the end of this? (If you’ve read my review of this game, you’ll probably know the answer to that last one). Whatever may be the result of this alien idea I’ve come up with, I am ready. More accurately, I am ready…

…for war.

CHAPTER ONE: A DESCENT INTO HYSTERIA

Friday, December 2nd. 3:14 PM. I get out of my parent’s car, walking up the side steps to our large brick house. Unlatching the white gate, I make my way towards the locked door, waiting for my mother to open up. The weekend seems calm, peaceful, like I can relax.

It’s wrong.

After throwing my backpack into my cubby and unpacking my lunch, I look back at my bag and see the bulge of my iPhone and AirPods in the outermost pocket. A grim waft of hydrated air rolls my neck as I skulk over to the pack, unzipping the pouch. Picking up my phone, I do a face scan and unlock it to see my homepage, the black-and-red icon for Netflix just above my browser. I click on it, and tap my account with the rhinoceros on it. Looking at the picture, I remember it from a BBC documentary, which gives a bit of solace whilst dread creeps through my heart.

I head on up, sandwich in one hand, phone in the other. Lazily slouching down onto my parent’s bed, I flick through movies and shows, looking for the object I so desperately want to leave.

‘Stranger Things’? No.

‘MANIFEST’? Nah.

‘Don’t Look Up’? Not today.

Then, I see it. Its icon has an animal with a vague green shape, eyes square, face contorted into a silent scream. Cuboidal head, prism body, logo for Netflix Interactive viewable in the corner. A backdrop of a navy tint surrounds the abnormal creature, once part of a respectable piece of media, now a husk of decrepit life. I click, wanting to run, wanting to hide, but I know better.

“Daniel, you’re 14, practically an adult by now.’“The voice in my empty head says. “You’re at the age when smoking a cig wouldn’t kill you (probably), and yet here you are, frightened by ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ of all things. Press play, let’s get this over with.

The voice in my head compels me; I watch the small preview shown on the game’s UI. It shows key moments from throughout the series, like a man watching a tape of his life before execution. Shuddering, the writhing animation is of a quality compared only to a horror movie, a work of fright. My hand is shaking, I can’t eat anymore. Hunger is drained while head is full – full of terror at the thought of going back to this. But I need to do this, for Ms. Lingofelt, for all the kids in Newspaper/Journalism, and for all the readers of JOYSTiCK. For those who are tired of hearing about this game, for those who love seeing my suffering.

I press play.

CHAPTER TWO: SIGNS OF DYSFUNCTION

My muscles contract. I recoil from a pose of curling fear, unraveling my arms and legs from my chest. The gentle tune plays during the opening, a misleading rope that could send me down a rabbit hole of misery.

“Well, this isn’t so bad. The music’s nice, the animations haven’t started yet, the actual ‘story’ hasn’t begun, maybe this won’t be so bad?

And then the narrator starts talking.
Never mind.
Moving along, I hear the game’s introductory question, an old joke spiraling around Reddit a while back.

“Would you rather fight 100 chicken-sized zombies, or 10 zombie-sized chickens?”

My flight-or-flight response kicks in. How foolish of me to go back to this game, I remind myself. Why couldn’t I have reviewed something normally, like… ‘Tetris?’ Such a sad sight; a man ensnared within his own creation, a moth fluttering towards a flame.

After forcefully answering the question at hand, the dialogue continues for a while longer, and I pause the video to recollect myself. Rubbing my temple I look out the icy-white window, snow pelting down against the frosted glass. I sigh, knowing that I don’t have anything better to take care of. No homework, no chores, no nothing. Normally this’d be a sign of joy, but I couldn’t help but wish I had work to keep me busy. Unfortunately, this IS homework, technically. I press the triangle again, and settle back down into the sheets.

…..

For the next good chunk of the game, this is how it plays. After maybe an hour of watching, I pause to take a break, a relief from the twisted storm I’ve caught myself in. I eat, I sleep, I go on walks, all to take my mind off the pain I’ve endured from this nightmarish experience. My sanity is numb; I can’t feel my fingers, with a creeping chill forming worse each time I subject myself to this creature of a product.

Once I reach the end of episode 2, I feel… better. I feel refreshed, like I can overcome this iron grip latched onto my soul. What the other 2 episodes will be like, I can’t tell.

CHAPTER THREE: THE BOY’S BREAKING POINT

Chapter 3 starts like the other 2 had before: me crying for about an hour. After retracting my tears and going through a couple hundred tissues, I sat down for the long stretch. I can smell victory, and it smells good (probably).

Lo and behold, the penultimate video starts without a hitch. 2 hours ago I would’ve been terrified of this image, this ancient, primal threat. But thou must see that I have dramatically matured since then! Yes dad, I AM self-sufficient! I can experience trauma, too!

While sitting through the opening narration crawl once again, I get the ping! of a text.

“It’s time for your daily French lesson. Take 5 minutes now to complete it. -Duolingo.”

This is a pretty standard Duolingo alert; since it’s an app for learning languages, these aren’t uncommon. However, in my glory-dizzy saga, it instead looked like this:

“Human child, you shall never be able to vanquish the ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ demon. Come now, let us continue the blood-letting ritual. Your soul is not fit for the realm of humanity; passing your spirit into our hands shall let the Elder Ones rejuvenate their aching bones. -???”

I know deep down that my mind is playing vengeful tricks on me, and I can’t blame it. In reality, my brain’s the one subjected to this torment, not me. I am merely a vessel, a carapace, my pink thoughts an alloy. It’s trying to make me go back to my old ways of thinking, but I won’t let it.

I won’t let it.
I-I won’t let it. No.
No, no, no. No, I won’t.
I-I won’t-t! No!

CHAPTER FOUR: NO MORE STORY MODE

THATS. IT. NO MORE.

No more ‘Minecraft’ reviews. No more slandering ‘Minecraft Story Mode.’ No more thinking that I’ve gotten past the treachery that has infected this serial.

When I started JOYSTiCK, I was excited to be able to review video games for school purposes. But now, 6 issues later, half have somehow featured the same game. And I need a break. I need to return to my roots, I need to review other games.

I made this jokey episode not to delve into the actual question at hand, but to just make a funny spin-off article for the holidays. But the menace of ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ still lingers. It’s not really even fun to criticize this game anymore; I’ve done it so many times. It’s time I move on in life, to new horizons, to new experiences.

Episode 6 (this one doesn’t count) will come in 2023. I hope to see you then!

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