When Telltale announced three additional episodes were being released, providing a continuation of the Minecraft: Story Mode adventure, I was apprehensive as to what stories could be told so swiftly in these self contained episodes. Episode six nailed it with lots of Minecraft Youtube personalities doing voiceovers and an excellent choice in the overall theme for the mini adventure set in another new world. How on earth can episode seven, ‘Access Denied’, live up the standards set before it? Where will we see the gang head to next?
In what is probably my least favourite opening to one of the Minecraft: Story Mode episode due to no interactivity, it picks up in the hall of portals right after they left the spooky, murder mystery house and found an exit to leave that world. Here, Jesse and the Order of the Stone are jumping in and out of different worlds, trying to find their way home, unsuccessfully. Eventually it’s decided that their current predicament is becoming ridiculous and that the next portal needs to be the right one. It isn’t. Instead, they’ve landed in a seemingly desolate place… but there’s an odd story to be told within.
Basically it’s a deserted world filled with sand and clay, where someone or something has taken control of the population and the gang have to regain the freedom of the people. The whole setup did nothing for me, mainly due to the boring nature of the barren land and the lack of personality throughout. Considering the amount of characters shining in the previous episode, there were just too many mindless drones this time and that certainly took away from my interest in the story.
Fortunately, there was a shining light in the form of Harper, a new character introduced in ‘Access Denied’. Voiced by Yvette Nicole Brown (Community), she lit up every scene she was a part of with her instantly recognisable sound. Her personality shone through as Harper, and even though it wasn’t a particularly chipper character to portray, she really helped prevent the entire episode from being a failure.
Quick time events always have a role to play within these episodic games, but regularly they just aren’t inventive enough compared to those I’ve already seen in other Telltale series. Predictably, they are far too simplistic here, and pressing a single button now and again does nothing to add to the excitement of the action scenes going on in tandem with the QTEs. The only saviour was a section involving a sort of VR transference of Jesse where he could switch to controlling other beings and you’ve got to be fast choosing the next body to inhabit.
It would’ve been good to see a few new enemy combatants to take on, however I was left to tackle the same old zombies and spiders, albeit ones that were extra strong compared to the usual pushovers, which added to my overall disappointment.
I feel bad for episode seven ‘Access Denied’, because it’s by no means a terrible add-on to the Minecraft: Story Mode series. It merely had bad timing; coming after a really fun and intriguing tale back at the spooky mansion which took a completely fresh approach. The theme did nothing for me in this one and the action ended up being pretty mediocre. Harper brought enough greatness to ensure the episode chugged along without being painful but I hope there’s something bigger, better and more interesting coming for the finale.
‘Access Denied’ was a definite drop in quality but it’s to be expected given how up and down the whole season has been to this point. If you’ve come this far then you might as well pick up episode seven, get it out of the way and prepare for the grand finale.