As I was browsing through Game-Debate, I accidentally looked at the Minecraft page. Then I was surprised - how come I still haven't written a review for this game? That is exactly what I will do now, even though there are plenty of good articles already written - an extra opinion won't do bad for this game!
What makes Minecraft so special? Why do even people, who never play any games, know about this creation of Notch (and his company Mojang)? Perhaps there are many reasons for that. The main one in my opinion is the simplicity.
A player that starts a new Minecraft world is thrown straight into action - the difficulty depending on the game mode choice they had to previously make. However, no matter what the difficulty is, there is one fact about the Minecraft world - time goes on. In a time that will seem just like one second, the in-game day will come to an end, and the night will start. With it, will appear the dangers. The player will need to survive through the now seemingly endless time, while being haunted by skeletons, zombies, spiders, creepers and other horrifying monsters. On one hand, the player might choose to kill them, but that will mostly prove a difficult task at the beginning of the game, so a wiser choice is to build a hiding place. That's where the simplicity appears. The player can simply take out a few blocks from the wall of a mountain, go into the newly created hole, and put the blocks back into their places! Just by doing that, safety can be guaranteed, and although without a bed or light it will seem like forever, the night will end, and the adventures can continue.
Another thing that makes Minecraft what it is, is the art and the graphics. This is also connected to the previous point - it runs on Java, so there wouldn't be anything special. But Notch, the creator of the game, went even farther by simplifying it even more. The whole world consists of pixelated blocks of fixed dimensions. They are everywhere - even thin air is considered a block. Thus the whole world is 256 blocks in height. Going back to the graphics, though, they really are simple. Everything has edges. Everything has huge pixels on the surface. Everything reminded me of a game from the 20th century, and an amazing one at that! If the visuals were different, Minecraft's success wouldn't be as big as it is now, and besides - these graphics allow any modern computer to run the game. Although it might hog a big amount of RAM, and heat up the CPU, the graphics card is most likely to be fine. On a side note, for those who do not enjoy such graphics, no matter what, there are hundreds of free mods out there - from realism of modern gaming to completely style-changing mods.
Finally, I would like to bring out creativity. I think this is the main feature that Minecraft can be proud of. There's probably no other game out there that allows the player to have so much freedom: mining ores, changing landscapes, exploring underground caverns, building castles or whatever else the player might think of - all of this can be done here! If you have imagination, this game will have endless amount of content for you. Looking at Youtube, it can be seen that some users have gone beyond a normal person's imagination - they have created fun traps, useful machines to make playing easier, or even built real calculators. The latter really amazed me, additionally to the fact that people have spent hundreds or even thousands of hours on creating their own perfect worlds.
Apart from single-player worlds, Minecraft greatly encourages sharing your creations with others, or working on projects together. Therefore, there are very many servers out there - some are paid, but mostly free. There are also different genres for these servers: peaceful living, PvP, role-playing, or even the Hunger Games. I practically enjoy playing the Hunger Games, due to the competitive feeling and thrill that they create - all despite the arguably simple graphics, server lag, and the usual for online games 'Pay2Win' system.
To sum it all up, I would really recommend trying Minecraft. Even if you have never considered it before - just try it! I used to consider it extremely over-hyped, and when I finally got my hands on this sandbox game, I was left in awe. It's on a completely different level from the typical games coming out today. And if you do like it, you will have something that will always be able to take up hours of your free time, whether you want it or not - that's just how Minecraft was designed. In return for the spent time, you will have total freedom to create what you like - even replicate a city from the real world, if you had the time and patience, because the world will not end. In practice, though, you can actually reach 'The End', but it would take 1640 straight hours of walking from one side of the map to another. Not the quickest walk, I must say. Add to that the fact, that Minecraft's maximum surface area is approximately 9.3 million times bigger that the Earth's. Yes, as I said, it is practically endless.