The end is nigh as the final scheduled episode of Minecraft: Story Mode arrives to conclude a real rollercoaster of a series. There have been many highs, a few lows and lots of family friendly action up to this point, but after the mediocre episode seven set in a barren land, Telltale need to do something fresh and exciting in order to leave us with fonder memories. Where will ‘A Journey’s End?’ take us next? Somewhere nice I hope…
The delightfully quirky Harper has decided to help Jesse, Ivor, Petra and Lukas in their final attempts to get back home. They’ve simply had enough of the trial and error nature of their previous portal choices, but now there’s apparently an Atlas which can guide them to their final destination. Only problem is, it’s located where Harper used to reside with other ‘Old Builders’ and as you figure out pretty swiftly, she didn’t exactly leave on good terms. Oh, did I mention your crew are thrown into a feisty arena of battling people almost immediately?
‘A Journey’s End?’ places you in the midst of a series of games, like Minecraft’s grim version of the Olympics, with teams competing across numerous events to find the last man, woman or team standing and subsequently crown a winner. Unfortunately, it’s run by a crooked, power-mad group of Old Builders intent on sending all the losers down to work on the mines and making sure nobody actually claims victory – just the standard corruption in the world of sport.
It’s a rather clever concept given the recent Olympic and Paralympic games in Rio, however, it requires more than that to succeed as being a great finale. That’s where the event ideas come in, with the real Minecraft mini-game of Spleef, as well as Lava Race and Walls. They’re all really cool ideas, and even though competing involves a load of QTEs, it paces out the episode well with a healthy balance of both conversation and action. You’ll be pleased to know there are no freeze moments which have plagued Telltale episodes in the past, but in times where Jesse has to be moved side to side to dodge lava, it doesn’t feel very natural at all.
Story-wise, Episode 8 delivers a handful of new, and interesting, characters ranging from Otto the uptight rule stickler to Hadrian the conniving antagonist. During the events, the Old Builders have their own henchmen known as Gladiators to help things go smoothly in terms of nobody being able to win. These are rather dense individuals, but it is good to see how they developed a conscience of sorts. Having a couple of funny moments throughout made sure the tone never got too dark, and there’s a healthy reminder or two of how Jesse’s crew have come so far from being the unpopular dorks in a treehouse.
Unlike the painfully bland area in episode seven, here we get treated to an entirely fresh and wintery village, along with the luxurious living quarters of those in charge. Designs created within the Minecraft world never cease to amaze me, and it was no different this time as I admired the wonderful blocky environment.
Aside from the minor issues with movements during the action sections, ‘A Journey’s End?’ really steps up to provide an exciting final chapter. The story focuses on a mix of the Olympic Games and the Hunger Games, which works great as a self-contained arc. I laughed, it had me in shock at one point and then it was thrilling to be a part of the events; I went through a multitude of emotions before a state of reminiscence.
Was this the perfect ending? No, not entirely because some of the conversation lacked in riveting dialogue. Overall though, I’d be happy should the Minecraft: Story Mode adventure continue for a second season, however should ‘A Journey’s End?’ be the actual end, then at least it went out on a high.