After a solid run up, the final episode of Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two has arrived to try and cap off what has been a great series so far. Telltale Games have managed to consistently deliver enjoyable episodes in Season Two of their Minecraft story-driven adventure adaptation, but it’s not over until it’s over. Will Episode Five, “Above and Beyond”, bring a conclusion to proceedings of the highest order, or could it fizzle out like a cheap firework? Here’s hoping it goes out with a bang!
Jesse overcame the hazard filled ruins beneath the bedrock in the previous outing, with some help from those around him, in order to lead the charge back to Beacontown before the Admin does any long lasting damage to it. The Admin, or Romeo to his former Admin friends, has destroyed the real friendships he once had and now looks to make people admire him by force, posing as Beacontown’s heroic leader – Jesse – and ruling with an iron fist. Romeo’s immeasurable power won’t be easy to stop, but that’s never prevented our protagonist from trying before.
Jesse’s secret weapon, an equaliser of sorts, is a password to use at a terminal; however, getting to the required location will take a cunning plan. You want a finale to hit the ground running, but the first half of “Above and Beyond” focuses on the creation of this plan and the gathering of resources, thus slowing everything down a tad. There are a couple of those free roam sections too, which I generally find utterly monotonous; apart from one specific part that saw the need to acquire ingredients for a spot of crafting. That was a good use of the medium.
Despite the wandering around and the slow start, it still manages to provide some fun interactions between characters, both old and new, especially with Ivor, Axel and Olivia returning to bring great memories of the first season flooding back to me. The gang are back together, alongside the new recruits, and it breeds hope that maybe, just maybe, the Admin is about to meet his demise. And you need that belief to buy into the gigantic task ahead.
When it really gets going though, Episode Five becomes a great experience in many ways. The first of which is a puzzle to solve and although the player will know the answer, it needs to be displayed in a certain way involving the removal of blocks in a wall. It took me a little while to figure out, but it’s a clever approach to the situation at hand and is quite possibly the best of the season. Problem solving won’t be the only task you’ll face, with the action putting you through your paces too.
The last encounter with the Admin is one of epic proportion, involving multiple stages, revisiting environments of episodes gone by, and different incarnations that Romeo has taken up along the way. Much of it is in QTE form, but there’s a battle which puts you in control of Jesse and able to dodge and swing a sword. Parrying is the order of the day to send fiery projectiles back at the enemy to succeed – and let me tell you it isn’t easy to get the timing right, but it still makes for a rewarding challenge. Nobody wants to breeze through the toughest boss of them all, do they?
Even in the lead up to the climax, the power wielded by Romeo has been cemented in the mind of the player, often showcasing the sheer vindictiveness of him and making him appear to be invincible to ensure any potential victory is even greater. There’s also time for a few teachable moments where the younger audience can learn some life lessons; I’m sure some of the older gamers may take something from it as well.
Beacontown has received a makeover in Jesse’s absence, thus rendering it unrecognisable from when it was seen last. The Admin has gone for a Mount Doom style decor, with lots of blood red and other dark colours bringing it to ‘life’ during his despicable regime. It’s pretty cool to look at, as is the other new area known as ‘the terminal’, which plays host to the great showdown.
Whilst Episode Five of the Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two is a bit of a slow burner, filled with momentum killing moments, it really comes into its own once it actually gets going. The vast amount of well-voiced characters supporting Jesse on this immense task and bouncing off one another, the puzzle design and the top notch battle with the Admin, all ensure that a mediocre finale transforms into a great one.
This season of Minecraft: Story Mode has been a success, both in the way of delivering a quality experience and providing just enough excitement to leave us wanting more. Give us a third season… please?!