Another month, another episode for Minecraft: Story Mode’s Adventure Pass DLC. With Episode 6, A Portal To Mystery, being a pretty good start to the three-episode DLC series, how does Access Denied, the second episode of the Adventure Pass and the seventh episode overall, stack up? Let’s take a look.
As always, my story summary will be kept fairly short to avoid spoilers. After the spooky events of A Portal To Mystery Jesse and co. found their way back to the huge portal-lined hallway they originally found themselves in after the events of episode five. After a number of failed attempts to make their way back to their home world, they choose a portal made of Redstone – ostensibly because the people within must be smart enough to advise them on how to get home if they’re Redstone experts – and find themselves in a vast desert of clay, sand and cacti, with only a single road giving them any sort of direction. They begin to follow it, and soon come across something particularly peculiar.
Unlike the murder mystery presented by the previous episode, Access Denied is a return to a traditional adventure story, with Jesse and co. jumping from setpiece to setpiece, unraveling a mystery as they go. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as most of the plot points, whilst not being particularly new on a conceptual level, are executed well and manage to convey a surprisingly unsettling atmosphere early on.
Put it this way, I wasn’t expecting to be reminded of a Stanley Kubrick film and a certain Harlan Ellison short story whilst playing Minecraft: Story Mode. One of the episode’s characters even has the villain of the latter story’s name within their own – that had to be intentional!
I won’t go into much more detail to avoid any further spoilers, but I will say that I did enjoy the new characters in this episode – as I alluded to previously the main villain carries an unexpectedly creepy vibe and motivation and I really enjoyed the eccentricity of one of your new allies – fans of Community may very well recognise her voice when she shows up.
From a gameplay standpoint, it’s the usual Telltale fare of time-sensitive conversations, strolling around to solve puzzles and Quick Time Event sequences. I personally found that there were very few puzzles to be found in this episode, limiting the gameplay outside of QTEs and conversations somewhat, but said QTE sequences were mostly well-executed, even if the more exciting ones only show up later in the episode. Conversations are as engaging as ever too, with some particularly tense confrontations and choices to be made – chances are you’ll slip up against the pressure of giving a good answer at least once during your time playing.
Overall, Access Denied is a straight-up enjoyable one-shot episode and a welcome addition to the Adventure Pass series. Whilst there aren’t many puzzles to be solved and some of the QTE battle sequences aren’t quite as exciting as they have been in previous episodes (with some notable exceptions), the episode’s story is undoubtedly what makes it work, introducing some great new conflicts and characters, as well as a villain you’ll enjoy taking on just as much as they’ll creep you out.