And so it begins… the first of the additionally announced episodes, serving as an extension, to the inaugural Minecraft: Story Mode season has arrived. The question is, whether it’ll be a worthwhile addition, or if Telltale Games should’ve just called it a day when the original story arc came to an end. There’s really only one way to find out, and that’s by stepping into episode six, ‘A Portal to Mystery’.
Last time we saw a self contained episode featuring the new Order of the Stone group on a journey through a portal to Sky City. The city itself looked beautifully designed and it was interesting to see our heroes on their first adventure after acquiring legendary status in their own world. ‘Order Up!’ was severely lacking on the puzzle front though and the QTEs came up short on ingenuity. There was no clue as to where the gang would end up in ‘A Portal to Mystery’, but wherever it is, it needs to deliver.
Heading on through a randomly chosen portal, Jesse and a few others have ended up in a creepy world full to the brim with zombies; it’s dark and they’re out to grab our characters before the night is through. Luckily, there’s an invitation just lying around, enticing the group to an apparent safe haven… but all is not as it seems when the realisation hits that others have been lured there too and the host isn’t as friendly as first thought.
What I loved about episode six is the fact it turns into a classic murder mystery and Jesse goes into full-on detective mode to figure it all out. The mansion becomes the ideal environment for a killer on the loose with hidden passageways, traps and rooms galore. With twists and turns at every corner, the culprit’s identity will be a real mystery that you’ll be begging to solve. I was well and truly invested into the story.
Having lots of new characters, and a lack of the frankly quite boring Olivia, makes for a thoroughly fresh episode. The main villain is dressed as an utterly disturbing pumpkin headed creature, but thanks to the cartoony graphics it never gets scary to the point where kids wouldn’t enjoy it; it’s a little freaky though. That’s nothing compared to the real stars of the show… Minecraft Youtube personalities!
For a person like myself, with no interest in the actual Minecraft video game or those who play it, I expected these special guests to be irritating and serve no positive purpose, except to further their own careers. How wrong was I? These guys and girls were mostly naturals at the voiceover work and each has a very obvious personality to go with their in-game character which suits perfectly. Stampy Cat was a real standout for being annoying but in a good way.
As the majority of ‘A Portal to Mystery’ is centred on being an investigation, there are not an awful lot of interactive QTEs. The parts it does have though are well choreographed and excitingly fast paced. Sure, it’s not overly engaging to press the odd button here and there, but the visual responses to these actions are entertaining, thus making up for the simplistic nature. Jesse is quite the action man nowadays; he’s come a long way.
Puzzles or even puzzling moments are a rarity in these interactive stories by Telltale, but the minor tests thrown your way require a bit of common sense. These work as comprehension exercises of sorts in the way that you’ll need to recall events earlier on in order to help progress further.
‘A Portal to Mystery’ does itself proud as a self-contained episode with a really cool theme being the real draw. Wanting to know ‘who did it’ caused me to become more interested in the dialogue and the choice in the line of question. It was no Sherlock Holmes intellectual and gruesome escapade, but instead a fun and surprisingly creepy experience that came close to darkness without going too far.
Bringing in members of the Minecraft community – DanTDM, Stampy Cat, Stacy Plays, LDShadowLady and CaptainSparklez – was a stroke of genius to give the series a much needed lift. What’s next for Jesse and his crew in Minecraft: Story Mode? We don’t know, however the next episode will need an ace up its sleeve to top this.