Title: Minecraft: Story Mode – Season Two Episode One: “Hero in Residence”
Available On: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Android, iOS
Where To Buy: Steam, Xbox Live, PSN Network
Minecraft: Story Mode seemed like the most unlikely of all the Telltale franchises to get a Season 2 after a rough start in their debut. The first episode (“Hero in Residence”) of the second installment in the series is considerably fun though, even if it carries over a lot of the same problems the first suffered.
The journey is picked up sometime after The Order of the Stone finished their original adventures. Jesse – who I will refer to as he since that is the gender I chose – is now the Hero in Residence for the recently constructed Beacon Town. Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 introduces a lot of new mechanics and tweaks to the gameplay of the previous season.
One of the most uninspired aspects of episodes 1-8 were the combat mechanics. The only action that took place when Jesse was in combat would be the ability to move toward or away from an enemy to strike them. More often than not though, the combat was relegated to Quick Time Events.
While Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 carries the same cumbersome, somewhat unnecessary, QTE’s that plagued the original, there is also a less restricted type of combat. Though it’s not perfect, Jesse can now move in all directions and is able to dodge attacks as well. The stamina bar is an odd inclusion though. Not only does it run out quickly, but it’s a limiting factor that has never had any bearing on the original product either.
Just like the original Minecraft, there are parts this season where Jesse will be able to actually build things freeform. While the only example was building a sculpture for Nell in the first episode, I imagine that mechanic will get a lot more use as a means of pleasing Minecraft fans. The investigation portions of “Hero in Residence” is more open as well this time, allowing Jesse to roam around more freely to find things, similar to other Telltale games.
The characters and story of episode 1-4 of Season 1 are what made me dislike Story Mode at first, but the same elements of episodes 5-8 is also what drew me into the series as well. A lot of key characters from the first season make an appearance in episode 1 but are relegated to background roles because their characters have already been heavily explored already. Interesting characters like Jack, Nerm, and Stella are introduced, each with a lot of room to expand and grow their characters. Unfortunately, one character is already somewhat unbearable as a result of their personality, Petra.
A key side character in the first season, Petra is seen as the Warrior of the group. She is tough and loves to go on adventures. While that is still a personality trait of hers in the second season of Minecraft: Story Mode, her character is considerably whiney and bitter so far. These are aspects that actually reared their head in episodes 5-8 of season one, but are dialed up to 11 in “Hero in Residence.”
From the outset, Petra is hostile toward Jesse regarding the fact that they don’t go on adventures anymore with the Order of the Stone. Her attitude toward everything is selfish and over exaggerated, to the point where she lies to him and even moved to the “rival” city. All of this while needing his help because of odd decisions she made. It only gets worse when Jack is introduced, as she then plays the cliche fangirl toward his character, while completely forgetting Jesse’s accomplishments. The idol, fanboy/girl aspect was one of the worst aspects of the first half of the original season as well, so not only is it annoying, it’s a type of plot line they have already done.
Aside from that though the plot so far has the potential to be amazing. Minecraft: Story Mode has had Meta elements to it since its inception, with references and story lines that show its somewhat self-aware. The Admin story has the potential to be one of the coolest Meta aspects of the second season. His character and premise alone are fascinating, but once he is introduced, his personality and appearance are foreboding and formidable.
Production aspect of Minecraft: Story Mode “Hero in Residence” are as hit or miss as the original. Just like the first season, there are plenty of trademark Telltale aspects regarding presentation. The introduction of the episode still featured unique title card presentation similar to Tales from the Borderlands, but the graphics still experience quite a bit of hiccup. Voice overs rarely match up to whichever character is speaking the lines and frames jump constantly.
All of that being said, the voice over work and other sound design are still top notch (pun intended), with enjoyable performances by Patton Oswalt (Male Jesse), Fred Tatasciore (Jack), and Roger L. Jackson (Admin). My main complaint, even though it contradicts my statement of the over reliance of using the same characters, is that Ivor is nowhere to be seen! The antagonist turned protagonist of the first season is only briefly mentioned in the beginning, of adventuring with Harper. The bearded mad man’s hilarious, eccentric personality is severely missed in this episode, as there aren’t as many funny moments without him in it.
While Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 has its problems, episode 1 introduced a lot of new elements, characters, and plots to get me as excited as I was after episode 5 of season 1 managed to suck me into its clutches. If you aren’t a Telltale fan or didn’t like the second half of season 1, the second season probably isn’t for you, as it follows much of the same formula, just adding in elements to freshen things up.
VERDICT: The first installment of Minecraft Story Mode’s second season is a sign of good things to come. While it carries over a lot of problems from the original, it still manages to create a fresh and engrossing story line with interesting new characters. Hopefully, Petra’s attitude will change as the story goes on but the potential for the Admin storyline is enough to have me excited regardless.
- Fresh stories and characters
- New gameplay mechanics
- Nerm and Jack
- Carry over problems from season 1
- Framerate/Production hiccups
- Lack of Ivor!