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Review

Minecraft: Story Mode - Season Two Episode One Review

Hero in Residence

Having become a band of hardened adventuring heroes in the first season of Minecraft: Story Mode and it’s three additional DLC episodes, the new Order of the Stone have grown up, it seems, by the time the second season starts.

It opens with Lucas regaling the heroes with a tale of their previous adventures, but as soon as it’s done, a little friendly robbing between the group out of the way, the band go their separate ways. It’s not that they’ve fallen out, it’s just that, you know, they all have their own things to do. Jesse’s got her Founding Day celebrations for Beacontown, Lucas revisions to make on his book, Olivia has things to do in Redstone and Axel off doing whatever else. Petra wasn’t even there to begin with, but searching for fresh adventures of her own.

While it would have been nice to keep this group together, it’s also a good move to send them their separate ways. As Petra and Jesse reunite for a little quest, it gives their friendship the space to develop and change, as well open up the possibility for new characters to come forward and shine.

It does a really good job here, sowing the potential seeds of division between the two of them, creating a new rival in the neighbouring Champion City, and introducing Jack and Nurm who become two characters that you’re wary of even as you almost have to coax them into adventuring with you.

Of course, one of the major new story points is a mysterious and ominous new gauntlet that Jesse and Petra find while exploring the mines beneath Beacontown (and trying to catch a llama- don’t ask). You know it’s bad when it starts whispering Jesse’s name, but at the same time, you probably want to pick it up even though you know it’s a terrible idea. It’s this and the ‘Heckmouth’ that suddenly forms beneath you and starts spewing out amped up Creepers that really give you a new purpose and take you to parts of the world that Jesse never even knew existed.

Just as there are whispers from the new glowing gauntlet, there’s murmurs of an all powerful being. “Here we go again,” I thought as I anticipated another Witherstorm-scale cataclysm, but while the climactic moments certainly have a hint of that all encompassing threat from the first season, the new series arc heads in a much more interesting direction. The Witherstorm was a dull looming threat after two episodes, but I can see the potential for this antagonist to last the entire series.

While the gameplay will be familiar to anyone that’s played the first game, or any Telltale graphic adventure, really, Telltale have further embraced Minecraft’s creative streak in the game. While I found the controls awkward, and felt that the analogue stick functions should be reversed, you’re given a completely blank slate and a ton of clay blocks at an early point, letting me create a very shonky Mario head to sit outside someone’s house. It’s a step above and beyond the crafting tables from the original, though those reappear at points.

Action scenes also appear – it wouldn’t be a Telltale game without them! – with nice and forgiving timing on the QTE button prompts. The first season’s more direct combat moments have been revamped though, with moving back and forth, dodge rolls and swiping your sword. It’s a nice idea, but it struggles when you’re facing off against more than one enemy. It’s relatively easy to control, but just feels confused on the handful of occasions it appears.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the music that is provided once more by Antimo and Welles. It really steps up over the original series in tempo and tone. It can be a little overpowering in the mix versus the audio, but I’m certain one track featured sampled panpipes, so I can overlook this minor indiscretion.

What’s Good:

  • A new and interesting adventure in Telltale’s Minecraft universe
  • New characters get plenty of screen time
  • Great new arch-villain
  • Tries new things with freeform creation and more in depth combat…

What’s Bad:

  • … but freeform creation and the new combat have unintuitive controls

Minecraft: Story Mode gets its second season premier starts off by showing our band of heroes growing up and apart. I’m sure they’ll reunite, but Jesse and Petra get to embark on a new adventure with a range of new characters added to go with them on an enjoyable new adventure. It’s a shame that some of the new gameplay elements don’t quite fit together, but on the whole, Season Two is off to a solid start that will likely hook those who enjoyed the original.

Score: 7/10

Version Tested: PlayStation 4 Pro

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