The fifth and final episode of the first season of Minecraft: Story Mode is a strange creature. A Block and a Hard Place brought a rather definitive end to the world consuming menace of the Wither Storm and wrapped almost all of the loose ends that were left. The season could really have ended there, and it meant that the fifth episode was always going to be the odd one out. So Telltale took the time to make this the start of something new instead.
The story of Minecraft: Story Mode as a whole has actually been a joy to play through. The twists and turns, the betrayals and moments of redemption have all come thick and fast, and while the family friendly world of Minecraft has often seen relatively simplistic character interations, there’s also been some depth and surprising nuance to the overall story. Certainly, some of the revelations surrounding the original Order of the Stone were quite unexpected, even if it was far too easy to just be a goodie-two-shoes as Jesse. This was a changing of the guards, with the mantle of being the Order of the Stone being passed on to a new generation of heroes.
You get to see that quite clearly in the opening few moments of the fifth episode. Jesse, Olivia, Axel and Petra have all very easily fitted into the four roles from the original Order, but they’ve also turned into some confident and badass adventurers. You see it in the fancy gear and weapons they wield, the ease with which they deal with a ludicrously perilous situation in the episode’s intro, and then how they are now greeted, adored and looked up to once they return to the city after their adventure.
However, that success hasn’t been universally popular. Lukas still has a good head on his shoulders, but the rest of the re-branded Ocelots haven’t handled playing second fiddle to the New Order quite so well. Admittedly, Jesse and the gang stride towards objects of great power constantly, but Aiden might as well be shaded Creeper green, given how envious he is. Again, there’s certain echoes from the first four episodes reverberating through the younger cast of characters.
And so, the Order find themselves in the majestic Sky City, which is pretty straightforward as far as city names go, and suddenly on the back foot and having to save the day once more. There’s a fair QTE action sequences to work through as a consequence, with plenty of beasts to fight, people to avoid and so on, but this is also an episode that strikes a very good balance between those, moments of exposition and Minecraft-themed puzzle solve. Admittedly, you might roll your eyes at one segment where you have to prove your building skills to gain the trust of a group of outlaws, but it serves to break up the action a little more.
Sky City is an interesting place to visit, as well. After having to make a decision over whether Ivor’s new “house” should be allowed to stand early on, his “Where will it end?” warning strikes true when Sky City turns out to be so strictly regulated that citizens have to book slots and queue up to use a crafting table or a furnace. It’s idyllic to look at, but it’s not the freeform world that Minecraft always is, and that’s the source of tensions between the Founder who rules over the city and Milo, the leader of an underground movement. Both a pretty good characters, even if Milo’s cloying attitude and stereotypical revolutionary attire can grow a little tiresome.
However, the fifth episode feels more like the start of a second season, rather than the end of the first. Story Mode released at regular monthly intervals for the first four episodes, but there was a three month gap to the finale, and so the intro makes sure to remind you of some of the previous acts. It also ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, as Telltale set up a further three episodes that are part of an ‘Adventure Pass’. Having said that, the fifth episode still has a satisfying conclusion as a standalone episode, and hints at the adventures to come.
Even with that three month break, there are still moments where the game can feel a little disjointed. Basic things like how subtitles don’t match up with the lines that are actually spoken, sometimes revealing different information and having a slightly different tone, or how easily some characters can switch between attitudes. There’s also a handful of moments where the game stutters during action sequences, despite playing on a PC with more than enough resources to avoid this.
These have been true throughout the season, and the pressure of that initial monthly release schedule can be felt quite keenly at times. The second episode was a notable low point where, perhaps because there were two substantial areas to visit that you had to choose between, it was the shortest episode in a Telltale game to date. Then there’s simply the fact that the series pulls many of the same tricks as have been seen in previous Telltale games.
Though Minecraft: Story Mode really hasn’t pushed the graphic adventure genre to new heights, it’s another example of just how adaptable Telltale are when it comes to creating stories for other properties. Though Minecraft really doesn’t have a story, that fact simply gave them free reign to create a world and characters of their own, and the fifth episode’s standalone adventure is just another example of that, with more adventures yet to come.
Note, this score reflects the series as a whole and not the individual episode.
Version tested: PC