Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two: Episode 1 Review — Building Up to a New Adventure
Jesse, Petra, and the rest of the New Order of the Stone return in our review of Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two and its first episode.
Prior to the start of the first season of Minecraft: Story Mode, developer Telltale Games’ take on the massively popular Minecraft franchise, no one knew quite what to expect from the mixture of the endless creativity that Minecraft offers with the more linear, focused narratives that Telltale has made its name on producing, thanks to its titles like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. Thankfully, the first season took many by surprise in offering a fun-filled (but often poignant) romp through Minecraft-inspired worlds and scenarios, with Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two looking to build on that foundation even further. And yes, of course that pun was intended.
Picking up after the first season (and its subsequent downloadable extra episodes), Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two‘s first episode (titled “Hero in Residence”) wastes little time in not only reintroducing players to its main protagonist Jesse and his companions, but also in introducing what’s changed since the last time that players ventured into the Minecraft world and set out for the adventures ahead.
Minecraft-inspired worlds and scenarios, with Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two looking to build on that foundation even further.”
After (spoilers) defeating the Wither Storm at the end of the first season, Jesse and Co. are (largely) determined to restore order to the world, with Jesse now in place as the mayor of Beacontown. Acting as the hub for Minecraft players and their unbridled creativity, Jesse and his companions (as the New Order of the Stone) are helping to keep the peace among the townsfolk.
Inevitably that peace doesn’t last too long as a new adventure begins at the neighboring town of Champion City. The game’s introduced adversary Stella obtains control that sucks in the New Order of the Stone to a building conflict. Of course, the trouble itself was sparked by a llama named “Lluma,” so pretty much anything goes when it comes to what kind of trouble that Jesse and his companions will get into this time around.
As the first season was the last time around, Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two doesn’t feature the exact type of approach to narrative as some of Telltale’s previous titles like The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us. While it may not have the same sense of stakes as those titles, Minecraft: Story Mode still provides a rousing sense of fun and adventure. Even from the first episode of the series’ second season, I find that Telltale might be managing to place a more cohesive tone and feel to the series this time around.
Where the first season wobbled a bit between silly, slapstick humor and more dramatic territory, this time around Telltale seems to be finding a bit more middle-ground in its tone and in developing the cast of characters.
More so than the tone and storytelling, however, Telltale has also implemented some notable gameplay changes in Minecraft: Story Mode. The alterations not only make the game a bit more active-feeling, but also incorporates more of the trademark Minecraft mechanics that fans of the series expect. While crafting once again plays a big role throughout the episode as Jesse will need to concoct various items to solve certain puzzles, other sections of the episode feature bite-sized versions of Minecraft‘s building mechanics on a grander scale.
As seen during a section where players can create their own statue to be displayed in Beacontown, it’s not exactly a mechanic that gets used to the same degree as the game it is based on, but I appreciated Telltale Games’ effort to incorporate a bit more of its source material into Minecraft: Story Mode and draw players closer to that world. Though it’s basic in the very loosest of terms, it’s a feature that I hope (in some shape or form) continues to be developed in future episodes.
The combat sections of Minecraft: Story Mode have also seen a notable upgrade, as players are now given far more control of Jesse when facing off against Creepers and the numerous other Minecraft enemies. The quicktime event-laden combat of Telltale’s previous titles has been changed drastically here, as players can now swing their sword at will, dodge enemy attacks, and even have to keep their eye on a draining stamina meter to avoid being fatigued. It’s a far cry from what one might see in other games, but the combat changes in Story Mode actually help to make the game feel more in tune with Minecraft‘s own combat, and will definitely be a welcome change for players of Telltale’s previous titles.
Story Mode actually help to make the game feel more in tune with Minecraft‘s own combat, and will definitely be a welcome change for players of Telltale’s previous titles.”
Where Telltale (notably) went in a very different direction for its return to Clementine’s story in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, Minecraft Story Mode: Season Two sees Telltale picking up right where the first season left off, and should please those who have been along for the ride so far.
While the first episode does drag a bit in its first half, “Hero in Residence” does a solid job of reintroducing Jesse, Petra, and the rest of the core cast since we last saw them while setting us up for another dose of adventure ahead. By relying on the series’ strengths — its “anything goes” nature and charming sense of humor and personality — and improving on its foundation with new gameplay and visual tweaks, Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two seems to be building up to something big this season, and the first episode is a great blueprint from which to start with.