As the penultimate episode of Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two arrives for our perusal, it’s surprising how solid each and every episode of this second series has been; given how inconsistent the first season was. Telltale’s job isn’t over just yet though, as Episode Four, “Below the Bedrock”, must uphold the same high standards to set us up nicely for the upcoming finale. Does it meet the expectations, or should the developers hide their heads beneath the bedrock in disappointment?
Jesse uncovered all sorts of important information whilst residing at The Sunshine Institute against his will in the previous episode. He discovered that other Admin’s existed alongside the one currently terrorising the world and after meeting one of them, Xara, they hatched a plan together in order to escape the prison. Once out in the wild, the adventure took the gang to a hidden land beneath the bedrock, and that’s where this episode picks up. The solution to stopping ‘the Admin’ – known as Romeo to his fellow Admin pals – can apparently be found somewhere in this ruined world, if Jesse and the other fugitives manage to navigate the hazards it beholds.
In regards the story being told, it paints a picture of this unseen friendship between Romeo, Xara and, the now deceased, third Admin, Fred, really well. None of us were there, but you can still envisage the bond they had from the recollection of those days by Xara, so that’s kudos to the writing. There are also little nuggets of information thrown your way as a result of taking in all that the episode has to offer; it could come via a voice recording, a diary entry, or even just in the way that their former HQ is designed.
What’s quite refreshing is how Jesse, who’s still the hero of the piece, is able to bring out the best in the other characters around him and allow them to shine. Radar, for example, has grown so much along the way since being a newcomer to become a staple of the group, showing off the qualities he does have. There’s a lovely moment involving Jesse and Petra in which the latter lets her guard down for a change, proving she has a softer side with insecurities. It’s a good message for the young audience the game is aimed at, to realise that it’s okay to share their worries or fears with those closest to them.
As for activities to keeping things ticking along in Episode Four, the ruins of this underground place aren’t as unpopulated as you may think; dangers lurk in the form of scavengers to negotiate past and there are always mobs to combat. And just when you believe you’ve seen it all, a massive enderman turns up to cause chaos. One of the best QTE sections though pits you against fiery golems in the ultimate test of your skills. It’ll have you fending off minions, dodging fire and luring the enemy to their demise with a cunning plan.
Other gameplay features include problem solving by matching the correct items to their rightful position and building a monument or two. That’s nowhere near as exciting as the fighting parts, however I did like the fact that to win over a rather scared community you had to prove your worth and win a quiz. To swat up on the quiz theme, everything about Fred, it encourages you to converse with those in the area and learn as much as possible. It’s really engaging, ensuring the player pays attention to what’s going on.
With the introduction of this new world, one can expect to venture through a few fresh environments, albeit those that are mainly drab and rundown due to the narrative. The new characters are more interesting than the environments, even if they only take up minor roles; from the feral scavengers who put on a brave front, to the Fred followers who’ve stayed loyal and dedicated since his death. I also love the fact that an old acquaintance made an appearance, which will please fans of the first season no doubt.
There’s no doubt Episode Four, “Below the Bedrock”, is a very good offering with very little downtime which helps stave off the potential for boredom. Sure, it could use a bit more humour, but the writing and voice acting is mostly good enough to convey the emotions that are running through the characters’ minds. The choices still feel a tad pointless, whilst the double dose of the equally pointless building activity isn’t a welcome one for me personally. Fortunately the QTEs, especially the boss type one, bring a great amount of fun and the quiz idea is really engaging.
Just like with the rest of the series, I’ve had a bloody good time in Episode Four of Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two. Bring on the finale – it’s set up to be a cracker!