Minecraft: Story Mode - A Telltale Games Series was filled with drama, adventure and stopping the world from being destroyed by a Witherstorm. Where it ended felt like that would have been a happy place to stop, yet here we are with Minecraft: Story Mode - Season Two. It still follows the adventures of Jesse, along with some new and old friends. How does episode 1 get us started and does this set us up for a potentially exciting season?
This time around our story begins as Lukas recaps what happened in the first game in the form of a new book he is writing, giving new players a quick introduction as to what happened even though it doesn't go into any great detail. You can import your Jesse character from season one (from whichever platform you may have played the game), meaning all of your important choices are remembered. If you haven't played season one then you can create a back story for your character and make all the important decisions there and then. The game does not punish you if you haven't played the first season, but there are a lot of references to the first game as you walk about; for example, when you pick some armour then you might see Tim's armour or Ellegard's armour in your choices.
A lot of people from the first season do reappear and anyone who has played it will recognise them straight away. Most of the main characters from the first game have taken on new roles. Jesse is now the hero in residence for Beacontown. Axel and Olivia are both busy in other cities, but they have all reunited temporarily as Beacontown is on the verge of celebrating Memorial day. Aside from the main group, people like Stampy Cat, Nell and Stacy Plays will come over and have a chat with Jesse, and the fact that they all retain their voice actors is a plus point. Sadly some other characters, such as Olivia, don't seem to have the same voice actors, which is a shame but this can't always be helped.
This time around, the game does feel more interactive. You have major and minor choices to make, like which route will you take to sneak into somewhere or simply how you answer a question, to who will you try and save from certain death. As has been the case with every other Telltale game, choices are prominent throughout and they do change how characters interact with you, but as of yet I've found no big consequences from any of my choices in the game. This game also utilises the Crowd Play option, which means you can have family or friends play along with you and vote on the choices when they appear on the screen. This can be done on a wider scale using apps like Twitch and Mixer and is a nice way to help involve other people in the game.
In terms of gameplay, changes have been made that encourage the player to think for themselves a bit more. The fighting has been improved and consists of more than simple QTEs. You now can move, attack and dodge enemies, and you even have a proper stamina bar you must watch. If fighting isn't your thing then don't worry because there are only a few fight scenes in this first episode. One other area of the game that gave some freedom was a building section where you could take the blocks and build whatever took your fancy. You could be as imaginative (or not) as you liked, which is another big positive that's hopefully continued in the rest of the episodes.
The story of this first episode takes you outside of Beacontown and into new locations like an underwater temple. Being introduced to these new locations makes the game feel more established and less like it is simply just following on from where the last game finished. The locations are all big and grand, with interesting architecture to admire, even in its blocky form. There are also a few new characters who it seems will have a prominent role this season, such as Jack and Nurm. They are two adventurers who give you a helping hand fighting your way through the underwater temple and they have a big role in this episode.
It feels good that the game has moved on and chosen a new story with a new path, new enemy and some new friends rather than simply continue on with the same people from the first game. There's a lot of talk about "The Admin" who apparently created the world, so there is no doubt that this "creator" will cause quite a stir. There's also a magic glove and a never-ending pit of doom to deal with later, so this episode does a really good job of setting everything up for the remaining episodes in the season. As expected, the episode finishes on a cliffhanger, leaving you eager to jump into the next episode. The episodic gameplay in which Telltale has become well versed is both a blessing and a curse, leaving you desperate for more.
There were a few minor technical problems with the game as is often the case with Telltale. A couple of long loading times and mouths moving when no words were coming from the character were the main issues, but these were minor and not at all game breaking. The world looks that little more pristine, like more care has been taken to make it look prettier and blockier than ever, and most of the time the game flowed seemlessly from scene to scene with very little jumping. As expected with achievements, there are six to unlock in this first episode. All of them come from simply completing the scenes, although the scenes did sometimes end at rather perculiar times according to when the achievements unlocked.
SummaryEpisode 1 - Hero in Residence feels like a promising start for Minecraft: Story Mode - Season Two. We have both new and old friends combined, as well as a couple of new threats to the world, all of which immediately make you eager to play more. The world feels nicer and more interesting to explore, and references to the first game in terms of characters and items are a nice addition. There are a few minor problems that we now seem to expect from these kind of games, but overall this episode feels like it is a good jumping off point for what should be a great season for Minecraft: Story Mode - Season Two.
- Lots of references to people, adventures and things from the first game
- Game feels more interactive, especially the fighting scenes
- Good beginning for what feels like a strong season
- Some minor hiccups with voice problems and loading
- Not all voice actors return with their characters
EthicsThe reviewer spent just over two hours completing the first episode, meeting new friends and new enemies, and starting a whole new adventure, unlocking all six achievements along the way. An Xbox One download code for the full season was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.
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