Telltale games is at it again, they’re masters at bringing us enjoyable interactive stories through their tried and tested formula. But isn’t the formula getting stale and shouldn’t they focus on new IPs instead of making sequels? Let’s dig in.
Season two is a direct sequel to the first game, but not a lot of prior knowledge is required to be able to enjoy this new adventure. Jesse is now the leader of Beacontown and with that come a lot of responsibilities. When his friend Petra wants him to join on a new mining expedition, he can’t wait to dip his blocky toes into another adventure. He soon gets more than he bargained for however and comes to posess a cursed Gauntlet. Not only that but a giant pit opens up in the area and they have to find a way to close it. They seek the help of another adventurer for this, called “Jack”, and together they set out to find the solution to their problem.
It’s a more interesting start of the story than what we’ve seen in the first season, as the Witherstorm just wasn’t as interesting an enemy as the one we meet near the end of this first episode. The pacing is great but it’s just a shame that it can be beat in a little under two hours. The decisions you make this time around also don’t seem to be interesting or impactful enough to warrant a second playthrough.
While the game is very colourful and I love the creative vibe that it oozes, I’m just not all that into the blocky look of the Minecraft games. Especially when viewing characters up close, their block-shaped heads sometimes get in the way of meaningful expressions of emotion.
The environments vary: mines and caves look a bit too bland and your very own Beacontown just isn’t anything special to look at (or perhaps too special as they have an “anything goes” mentality). The town next to yours however looks nicer and the dungeon at the end of the game has some interesting effects (giant statues turning their heads).
The voice-actors all do their job admirably, especially the lines of the big bad at the end stood out to me. Funny stuff! The music also served its purpose in bringing the ambience to life in certain scenes, but didn’t make enough of an impact on me to be memorable.
Playing the game is like most Telltale games: for the majority of the game you’ll just see the story unfold and every now and then you’ll be asked to make a choice that supposedly branches the story but never really does. The choices are the ones you’d expect to see as well: save character A vs save character B. Either doesn’t seem to end in the death of the other, so the stakes don’t feel as high.
Some other gameplay elements are also present but these are so far and few in between and don’t really add anything that I wonder if it was even necessary to have them: you’ll be able to freebuild a statue in the beginning of the game, at certain times you can use the items in your inventory to build new ones (but it’s very restricted) and you’l have about 3 combat sequences. Out of these only the combat needs some additional feedback: it feels slow and sluggish and it’s unclear when you’ll be close enough to hit an enemy. Every dodge you perform or swing of your sword also takes a bit of stamina. ( Dark Souls must have really impressed on of the devs)
Lastly you’ll also have some Quick Time Events here and there. While a lot of people don’t like these, I’ve never minded them: they add some dynamism to the story telling and keep your attention up. In my opinion they could have left out the combat mechanics all together and just have more Quick Time events.
This episode is not bad by any means, but the Minecraft story mode games seem to be the least interesting out of all of Telltale games’ offerings in my own opinion. If you’re a fan of the Minecraft universe however, this is likely your favourite. I find it interesting that these continue to do well when I speak to friends that don’t even remotely enjoy them, but they had one important piece of feedback for me: Easy Achievements. I don’t regret spending my time with the game and I’m curious enough to want to play the next episodes, but I find the asking price of $5 a bit steep for a 2-hour episode.
If you like to see what the game is about in more detail, you can have a look at my story walkthrough here: