I was pleasantly surprised by Minecraft Story Mode’s first episode. It laid the groundwork for what promised to be a grand adventure. Coupling Minecraft’s blocky and pixilated aesthetic with Telltale’s signature style of adventuring was bold, and though it could easily have been a cunning cash-in, proved otherwise to cynical gits like me.
This week, the second episode, Assembly Required, was stealth-released – coming out of nowhere. Usually, Telletale’s episodes take significantly longer to show up – but here we are, with the second episode out, just two weeks later.
Middle episodes in Telltale adventures can be tricky. They need to keep the plot moving along, while at the same time cot come to any conclusions, so they often feel like filler. That’s unfortunately the case here – and it’s not especially filling filler either. My play time through this episode couldn’t have clocked in any longer than an hour and a half, and that was with me trying to do all of it.
Of course, you’re meant to play through it a few times. At the end of the first episode, out band of friends had to make a decision as to which member of the Order of the Stone to seek out first. Jesse (my own – a lovely girl who’d do anything for her friends) had to choose one of two paths, the slection of which saw the curtains come down.
Fast forward to this one, and the consequences of your choices and actions become a little clearer. In my principal playthrough, I opted to follow the large, loveable and adventurous – but not especially bright – Axel to find Magnus the Rogue, the most destructive of the Order’s former members. His penchant for blowing stuff up would be the perfect help in ridding the world of the giant demon that threatens to end all cuboid life. Though just about nobody who makes up the target market for this game would know who he is, Magnus is voiced by former child star and current has-been Cory Feldman.
The story takes us out of the Nether, and in to Boomtown – a land filled with griefers intent on being the trolling sort that they are. As a city, its grand, winding structures and narrow spires-like passages are a visual success, but it’s not long before we’re off elsewhere, in search of other members of the order. Had I chosen differently in the first episode, I’d instead have been off on the other divergent path, off to find the analytical, engineering-focused Ellegaard the Redstone Engineer.
Ellegaard and Magnus don’t exactly get along, so the quest for the next member doesn’t quite go as planned. And then…
…well then it ends, the episode abruptly coming to an end just as it starts becoming interesting. There’re no new mechanics introduced, and the choices presented appear to be binary, one-or-the-other options. They’re a little more emotional gravitas this time around (depending on your previous actions, of course) with something resembling character development. I’m sure the consequences of my choices and actions will unravel to reveal interesting subplots as we delve further in to the game, but this time, it felt like little important or even particularly memorable happens.
There were fewer amusing in-jokes and references a little less overall character, leaving the whole episode feeling a little flat. And still, I’m optimistic. I’m certain that Telltale will move past “the difficult second album” and find its blocky, toe-free feet.
Last Updated: October 29, 2015