This review may contain minor spoilers.
It looks like Telltale Games have managed to get a tight schedule going for Minecraft: Story Mode – just a couple weeks after the first episode’s debut, they’ve unleashed the second. Whilst I personally enjoyed the first episode, it was met with understandably mixed reviews – does the second episode fare any better? Let’s dive back in and find out.
At the end of the first episode, you’re presented with a choice as to who of the Order of the Stone you want to find and recruit first to fight the Wither Storm – either Ellegaard the Redstone Engineer or Magnus the Rogue. Thinking TNT and exceedingly effective mischief would (somehow) be more useful than Redstone inventions in taking down the massive skybeast threatening the world, I set off to find Magnus.
As a result, Jesse was dropped straight back into the Nether with Axel in tow, riding Minecarts towards Boom Town, the domain of the griefers. Whilst I can’t speak for the other pathway, where you join Olivia to find Ellegaard, with the characters and story foundations already set up in the previous episode Minecraft: Story Mode’s second episode gets going a lot faster than its predecessor, with a greater emphasis on action at the start.
Boom Town, being full of griefers, is a city ravaged by its own inhabitants, with most buildings sporting at least two big TNT holes and others reduced to little more than floating groups of blocks. I actually got a bit of a Mad Max-ish post-apocalyptic vibe from the place, with all the griefers you come across sporting masks of varying designs whilst throwing eggs and explosives all over the place. There’s a great sequence early on where an important item gets stolen and a big QTE-laden chase ensues, which depending on your actions could end with a really satisfying moment as Jesse finally turns the tables on his pursuers.
I won’t reveal more just in case anyone hasn’t gotten around to playing the episode yet, but I found myself having a really good time with quite a lot of Episode 2’s story. Back in my review of the first episode there were a number of things I mentioned that I’d like to see more of in the rest of Minecraft: Story Mode’s plot, and Episode 2 seems to deliver for the most part – whilst I’m trying to be careful with spoilers, I can say there’s definitely some big twists and reveals, more fun character moments, especially with some of the optional banter you can get, some enjoyable action sequences and whilst I imagine certain characters might provoke a mixed response it definitely feels like there’s some weight to the classic Telltale “solve a disagreement” and “convince x to do y” moments presented.
That said, the episode is pretty short, lasting about an hour and a half at most, but as Minecraft: Story Mode is sold as a “box set” and this came very shortly after the first episode it’s not too big an issue.
Reviewing an episodic game, especially a Telltale series, sometimes means that I’ll end up repeating myself on quite a few aspects with each episode’s review, so I’ll get them out of the way now. Story Mode’s visuals still show the Minecraft world and characters in just as good a light as they did in Episode 1, the gameplay is still largely the same, with a lot more QTE sequences and fewer puzzles throughout this episode in particular and it’s still packed with those same “Oh, Minecraft!” moments, including a creepily underplayed introduction to another iconic Minecraft monster.
Overall, Minecraft: Story Mode’s second episode is a short but entertaining ride. While the episode as a whole feels like it’s just setting up the bigger events that’ll take place in future episodes, it definitely does its job in keeping the momentum of the story going in as enjoyable a manner as possible, with some big plot twists to keep you wondering what’s coming up next. Bring on Episode 3!