Where the first five episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode followed Jesse and the formation of the New Order of the Stone, the “Adventure Pass” series of episodes have opted for more standalone installments showing the newly-formed group’s adventures, with Telltale Games’ series taking another step forward into its series based on the mega-popular Minecraft.
The previous episode brought Jesse and his group into the halls of a mysterious mansion and thrust into a murder mystery for great results. While Episode 7 doesn’t bring over many of the plot elements from the one before, it does induct the group into a whole new adventure that takes on more of a sci-fi tinge with its latest installment, “Access Denied.”
As the penultimate episode in the Adventure Pass for Minecraft: Story Mode, Jesse and his companions in the New Order of the Stone are taken on a very different sort of adventure as they continue their time and space-hopping adventures from the last episode, with an inter-dimensional portal taking them to a new location that, at first, shows promise for a developing civilization. However, the rest of the episode explores more dire circumstances as Jesse and the gang discover a menacing presence in their newly-found land.
Much like the White Pumpkin in Episode 6, the heroes of Minecraft: Story Mode take on a new adversary in the seventh episode in PAMA, a sentient supercomputer that outgrew its initial intentions — as a friendly AI built to help the city’s inhabitants — has become an overruling dictator that has enslaved the citizens and enacted its rule with an ironclad (and digital) fist.
It helps too though that — much like the merciless GLaDOS in Portal — PAMA is disarmingly cheery and adorable with her emoticon-driven expressions: so much so that it’s as easy to love her as it is to despise her throughout the episode’s hour and a half running-time.
The core struggle in the episodes comes down to the New Order of the Stone as they seek out a way to deactivate PAMA and regain control of the city’s brainwashed citizens. As it turns out, only PAMA’s creator, the reluctant scientist Harper (played by Community‘s Yvette Nicole-Brown) and the last of the citizens to not be under her control, becomes the team’s only ally and solution in finding a way to put down PAMA for good.
Where the previous episode of Minecraft: Story Mode provided a more self-contained story and the introduction of cameos from Minecraft‘s hugely popular YouTube community, Episode 7 brings a bit more of a straightforward offering compared to previous installments of the series so far.
“Access Denied” may lack in surprises or elements to make it stand out in a significant way from previous episodes (lacking guest appearances from Minecraft YouTubers this time around), but still offers an enjoyable romp in line with what we’ve already seen from Jesse and the gang so far thanks to its theme and new characters.
In particular, the episode also brings in some fun flourishes to break up the usual sequence of action and light puzzle-solving. The highlight of the episode especially comes through in a sequence where Jesse has to use a VR headset-like device that not only offers a trippy and fun action set piece, but also a fun dig aimed at the current trend of virtual reality devices in the real world.
As a standalone episode, “Access Denied” is another enjoyable entry for Minecraft: Story Mode with Jesse and the New Order of the Stone taking on a sic-fi-themed adventure, thanks to PAMA as a villain that many will love to hate and Yvette Nicole Brown’s Harper being a sassy addition to the cast.
However, like the previous episodes in the Adventure Pass, the latest installments in Minecraft: Story Mode have lacked in character development what the make up for in action and adventure. It’s not the biggest bummer for the younger audience that Story Mode is targeting, yet in some ways it feels that the series doesn’t quite utilize its potential for more compelling stories and characters than it has.
With one more episode in the Adventure Pass to go, “Access Denied” marks another solid entry for Minecraft: Story Mode. While there’s not much of an indication of where the story will head off next, hopefully the events of Episode 7 will allow Minecraft: Story Mode to build towards a satisfying, thrilling finale.