The second season of Minecraft: Story Mode is hitting the midway point and it’s been an absolute blast up to this point, far exceeding my expectations. But the job isn’t done until Season Two reaches its climax and so Telltale Games, in collaboration with Mojang, need to keep it up a while longer yet. Can Episode Three, “Jailhouse Block”, carry on being consistent to make our time with the episode entertaining, or will we be looking to break free from it all?
Jesse and the gang have all sorts of problems, despite following most of the Admin’s rules and successfully overcoming the Icy Palace of doom, as he’s still not happy with the way Jesse acts. As an all powerful villain, the Admin takes one of Jesse’s friends as a slave of sorts and sends the rest to his own personal hell – The Sunshine Institute. The options are straightforward; conform to the Warden’s way of running things or go against the grain and get out of there fast. They might not make it out unscathed, if escape is even possible!
First things first and The Sunshine Institute – basically a prison – is a great new setting to ensure there’s a fresh new environment to gaze your eyes at and a handful of extraordinary inmates to get to know. Weird would be an accurate description of those inhabiting the prison; even the staff are a bit odd. Oxblood especially stands out though as a wonderfully grumpy and dangerous looking bloke, who has a softer side when it comes to dealings with his Mooshroom (a cross between a Moose and a Mushroom) and this makes the stay very interesting.
General chat between the usual cast is slightly better and a tad more interesting than last time out, with Radar stealing the limelight as he tries to be a tough guy – which he most certainly isn’t. The voiceovers are pretty solid for all and there are a few laughs to be had from the script, despite the dire situation.
One of the important roles the additional new characters help to pull off is to mask the fact that the Admin is barely involved throughout the episode, but it’s testament to the impact he’s already made that the threat is always looming over the gang. Is he about to show up and deliver more punishments? You just never know and the immense powers he possesses means anything is possible, at any time.
Meeting the newcomers to the story is where most of the dialogue interactions occur. It’s just a shame that there are a few too many of those moments where you have to wander round talking to people, mostly with nothing of worth to say, before you’re able to advance the main narrative. It kills the momentum – if only for a short while – but thankfully these moments are counteracted by the action scenes, which never cease to entertain.
Whether its new variations of the Golem, creeper and zombie enemy types, or the team-based attacking manoeuvres featuring Jesse, I’m always impressed at how Telltale up their game in the QTEs. A double team move involving being launched off a shield and then wiping out a number of enemies was very cool to see. The best part is the boss-like battle against a Three-Headed Ghast and a load of its acquaintances; it requires good timing as you’re dodging and reflecting fireballs back at it.
Being a pure hero to everyone around him, the limited choices presented to Jesse – and you as the player – during the episode are basically no brainers. It doesn’t make sense to take one of the sneaky routes offered, or to not lend a hand to a person in trouble. There is one decision that’s slightly tricky, involving two lesser characters who are likeable, but in terms of major choices, there just aren’t enough requiring a difficult decision.
As for other things to do, I’m actually beginning to get bored of the blank canvas building activities now and what was once a cool outlet to unleash the creativity of players, has become an idea shoe-horned into the episodes for the sake of it. You can literally just place a few blocks randomly and the game will be happy with the resulting structure, regardless of how it looks.
The technical issues usually associated with Telltale series’ aren’t a problem here, with everything ticking along nicely. If I was to be picky though, it can be annoying in terms of continuity purposes for characters to warp into new positions when a cutscene kicks in. But I’ll survive that without too much hassle.
Episode Three, “Jailhouse Block”, ensures that the Admin is as fearsome as ever and that the heroes are going to have a tough time if they are to ever end his reign of terror. The action provides plenty of fun and the new characters have interesting personalities to get to know. Battling the abnormal Ghast was highly enjoyable too. The only letdowns come in the form of the now tedious creative activity, a lack of difficult choices and the return of the sections where you’re wandering around to interact with just as many pointless things as there are important ones. Fortunately though, the positives still outweigh the negatives.
If the teaser for Episode Four is anything to go by, then this run of enjoyable episodes is going to continue, so if you haven’t already, you really should get playing Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two!