Despite being the final episode to the original five part season, ‘Order Up!’ was more of an introduction to a new series of adventures than a conclusion. As I wrote in our season review, this felt more like the start of a second season, rather than the end of the first, especially with its slight cliffhanger ending.
Consider this a fairly mild spoiler warning for the overarching plot.
With an enchanted flint and steel in his possession capable of activating portals, Jesse and a handful of his friends have found themselves stranded a long way from home. In fact, they’re not even on their own world anymore – or perhaps, seeing as it’s Minecraft, their own server? – and are hunting for a way to get home. It’s a set up that feels a little like Sliders, in fact, a sci-fi TV series from the late 1990s which featured more than a little bit of dimension hopping, but you could draw parallels to Stargate and countless other science fiction stories.
This episode shows just how liberating that can be for the writers, who get to weave a small and self contained story that conjures up the feeling of a haunted house mystery, straight out of Scooby-Doo. People are getting murdered, and it’s up to you to figure out how it’s being done, who’s behind the White Pumpkin’s mask and what they’re after.
It hits all of the right notes and leans on a number of classic murder mystery tropes, with lightning strikes used that underscore certain big twists, one on one interrogations by the warm glow of a fire place, secret passageways and even a final showdown in which you have to prove who the real murderer is.
Of course, it couldn’t possibly be one of the four familiar faces that you know from the rest of the series, and Telltale have added half a dozen new characters to meet. Most of these are played by and named after members of the Minecraft community, with CaptainSparklez, Stampy Cat, StacyPlays and a few others.
Naturally, that’s potentially quite a big draw for those who are heavily invested in the game and watch YouTubers, but it feels like a cheap ploy, when they’re playing characters that borrow their own online aliases, as opposed to having them play entirely new creations. Worse still, it’s quite clear that these are not professional voice actors, and they simply can’t hold a candle to the work of Patton Oswalt/Catherine Taber, Ashley Johnson and the rest of the regular cast, to the point where it quickly became quite distracting.
Which is a shame, because I actually really quite enjoyed the set up and the very different tone that this episode had. It builds on top of Minecraft: Story Mode’s particular blend of action set pieces and light Minecraft themed puzzling, as well as Telltale’s style of timed dialogue options.
As a standalone episode, your choices also aren’t going to follow you to the next episode, so there’s not as much impact to DanTDM remembering what you say to him, compared to if Lukas were the one getting annoyed at you. Even so, I’m looking forward to seeing how Telltale can shift gears in the next two episodes, as they look to find new and interesting worlds and situations to explore.
One final note should be made about the game’s pricing, which is confusing to say the least. The ‘Adventure Pass’ which contains access to all three of these additional episodes is actually priced at £15.99, making it cheaper to buy each £4.99 episode individually. At the same time – current economic turbulence aside – it’s also an instance where the UK PS Store price fails to match up with the exchange rate from the US, where the Adventure Pass is $14.99. It’s a sour note which will no doubt put people off in the UK.