I’ve played Minecraft-inspired games before. I’ve put dozens of hours into Terraria and a decent chunk of time into Total Miner: Forge. When Minecraft itself finally hit the Xbox recently, I had to at least play the demo. As it turned out, few demos have ever made me want to buy a game less.
I can understand some people being put off by the relatively sedentary pace or the lack of a clear goal. Not so for me. Let me walk you through it.
The demo puts you in a ready-built area, complete with a pond, a ruined hut, a small town and a castle. I went through the tutorial bits easily enough, fixed up the hut as instructed, then went to explore. After wandering around the castle for a while, night fell. I trotted into the town and holed up in one of the houses. Curious about the monsters that I knew would come out now it was dark, I stood at the window and watched. What I saw was a brief glimmer of green, then BANG! One wall of the house caved in as one of those exploding creatures decided it was in a bad mood. Zombies and spiders piled in, and my flimsy sword could only do so much. Without room to get out of the house, they finished me off pretty quickly.
I respawned without any of my weapons or tools, all the way back at the pond in the tutorial area. I could hear enemies nearby, so rather than trying to get to town, I ran to the hut I’d fixed up earlier. A few seconds later, BANG! Half the building dissolved. Unarmed and trapped again, I didn’t have a chance.
I respawned. This time I had no choice but to make a break for it, but I had to pass the hut which was still crawling with enemies. I sprinted to the tunnel towards town, but they chased me down and tore me apart.
I respawned. Same problem but this time the monster clump had been thinned out by the previous chase. I ran to the tunnel, got through it and almost made it to town, but a spider blindsided me and ate my head.
I respawned. Got through the tunnel, decided to avoid getting trapped in a building again and headed over a ridge to the left in the hope that I’d get away from this main mass of monsters and be able to dig a hole to hide myself in. I managed that, but then found myself just sitting and staring at a dirt wall, waiting for the night to pass. Not my idea of fun. I dug my way out and tried to head back to town, but BANG! A chunk of the hill vanished. While trying to find a new route, spiders caught me and skewered my face.
I respawned back at the pond again. Made a dash for town, got through the tunnel, got to a building. I slammed the door behind me and breathed a sigh of relief. Then CLICK. A zombie let itself in like a rude neighbour. I hadn’t even tried to mine for materials in the dangerous darkness, so I was unarmed. I might have been able to take out the zombie with my bare hands, but I never got chance to find out. BANG! The room was decorated in shades of miner innards.
I respawned. Not knowing what else to do, I ran to the town. The monsters saw me from the ruins of my previous hiding place but I managed to dart into a house across the street. This time I dived straight into bed in the hope that unconsciousness might save me. And it did. I awoke to bright sunshine, wandered to the window and saw a smirking green face looking right back at me. That hissssss of burning fuse began, and I ran to the back of the house to try and hack my way free. BANG! The front wall gave way, and a couple of spiders pranced in. As they chewed me to pieces yet again, I hit what can only be described as The Wall. The “Fuck. This. Shit.” wall of quitting Minecraft, deleting the piece of crap and pretending I’d never seen it.
I died eight times in the first night in the demo. What’s the point of shelter if it provides no protection at all? What’s the point of a day/night cycle that doesn’t allow you to live to see the dawn? What’s the point of a demo that makes willing purchasers run away screaming from your badly designed travesty of a game? I don’t know whether Minecraft has always been like this, whether it’s just the Xbox version or even just the demo. I don’t know and I don’t really care. It’s horrible and I want no part of it.
That is why I didn’t buy Minecraft. Did you?