Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: Episode 5 – Building a New Adventure
Since its debut, Minecraft has long been known for giving players a complete toolkit to discover and create, bound only by the imagination of players. With a few core concepts of building and crafting in place, Minecraft becomes an engine of endless possibilities and creativity.
Combined with a penchant for storytelling from Telltale Games, last year’s debut of Minecraft: Story Mode brought together the worlds of limitless creativity and a focused story that, at first glance, seemed like it wouldn’t quite come together.
While Minecraft: Story Mode hasn’t had the same dramatic heft as some of Telltale Games’ best adventures (like The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us), its charm and use of the Minecraft universe have made it stand out in other ways, and proved that a story set in the “anything is possible” style of Minecraft is certainly do-able.
Previous episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode have accomplished this with a bit of mixed results, with the game (so far) having been high on charm thanks to an exceptionally good voice cast. In particular with talents such as Patton Oswalt, Paul Reubens and others joining video game voice acting vets like Dave Fennoy and Ashley Johnson, Story Mode offers a fun and adventurous ambiance distinct from other Telltale IPs .
At that expense, Minecraft: Story Mode hasn’t offered quite as much in the way of compelling characters or a deep, impactful story like those we’ve seen from Telltale’s best. However, in a break from the usual five-episode structure that players may have known before, the fifth episode of Minecraft: Story Mode does bring the series a little closer to improving that goal with its best episode since the premiere last year.
In the fifth installment of Minecraft: Story Mode, titled “Order Up!,” players are reintroduced to the main character Jesse and his band of friends as they now begin their adventures once again as the new “Order of the Stone.” Coming from the end of the previous episode in the “Wither Storm Finale,” for all intents and purposes Episode 5 acts as the beginning of a “Season 2” for Story Mode, with the series’ familiar faces finding themselves in a whole new adventure.
(Warning, incoming spoilers:) At the start of Episode 5, Jesse, Petra, and the rest of the new Order of the Stone are virtually heroes beloved by they fellow citizens, though that ends a bit quickly as tension escalates between Jesse and his rival Aiden (and his gang the Blaze Rods). From there, the episode picks up as Jesse and the Order must soon hunt down the elusive “Eversource,” a legendary item that can produce infinite resources for crafting and building: in the case of Minecraft, that usefulness speaks for itself. (End of Spoilers)
Since the premiere, the fifth episode of Minecraft: Story Mode is arguably the strongest episode in the series yet, with a whole new location and new characters introduced by way of The Founder and her city in the sky, (appropriately) called Sky City.
Where previous titles from Telltale like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us explored darker, more dramatic themes, Episode 5 of Minecraft: Story Mode uses these new characters and setting not only to bring plenty of lightness and charm to the adventure (including a quite funny reveal of what “the Eversource” actually is), but also to explore ideas and themes that still bring some element of decision making and tension to how you’ll be perceived by your friends, companions, and enemies.
In particular, these scenarios often revolved around the idea of crafting and building for the individual versus the good of everyone. Specifically, series “villain” Ivor creates a home made of stone and lava that, while impressive from a technical standpoint, wreaks havoc on the other citizens, leading the player to decide whether to impact their relationship with Ivor, or to be seen a bit lesser in the eyes of the citizens that the Order is trying so hard to protect.
The dynamics of Sky City and The Founder are especially intriguing and adds lots of new elements worth exploring in the upcoming episodes (and arguably has made for a more interesting story than the Wither Storm arc), with Jesse and his crew encountering a civilization restricted in its crafting and building by an authoritative leader, and making for an intriguing new adventure for Story Mode.
With the series now essentially moving into a new “season,” Minecraft: Story Mode has largely shaken things up a bit with a whole new area of its blocky, build-it world and some new faces alongside its older ones, while at the same time keeping its charm and good humor intact. While the supporting cast are still not quite getting the same level of attention or character development as some of the series more prominent actors, “Order Up!” still brings in one of the series’ best episodes to date, and builds up to a whole new adventure with three more episodes to see how the blocks all fall into place.