Now that Tales from the Borderlands has concluded, it seems like Telltale may be working a little harder to release its games with shorter gaps between each episode. This marks the second Minecraft: Story Mode release of October, a paltry two weeks after the opening episode. Unfortunately, even with such a quick turnaround, the release leaves quite a lot to be desired.
We weren't too hot on the opening act of this series to begin with, and another step backwards doesn't bode well for the series at large. Much like the first time around, Jesse and his crew of friends – who range from fairly interesting to quite boring – are attempting to reunite the Order of the Stone to stop a giant creature from eating the world. At its core, the game offers a perfectly adequate fantasy tale – but beyond that it doesn't really feel like there's much there.
While the first episode still managed to have a couple of fun sequences, the second doesn't really bring with it any of that; this instalment doesn't have any of the innocent fun, or whimsical sense of wonder that the first had. Instead, we're treated to a chunk of where nothing really happens. While we're exaggerating a little, the problem is that the pacing of Episode 2 is so far off the mark that we felt like nothing was accomplished. This left us feeling completely disinterested across the episode's horrendously slim 50 minute run time.
The writing's at the heart of the issue, however. As Telltale has, for years now, completely nailed the writing portion of its releases, this is quite the surprise. Most of the drama and tension that the series is trying to create just fails to convince. As a consequence, many of the characters feel immensely shallow. And yes, we know, it's only been two episodes – but with previous Telltale releases we were already completely engrossed at this point. That's just not the case here.
Another aspect of the release that doesn't do the emotional aspect of the game any favours is the art style. As a crafting game, Minecraft's visuals don't interfere with anything – it's endearing even. But in a game trying to tell an emotionally resonant story, it definitely hinders things. Acts such as hugging someone or even something as simple as looking upwards end up coming off as ludicrous. Everything just looks very weird, and it takes you out of the moment almost immediately. While this was certainly present in the first episode, it's more prevalent here.
To shy away from the negativity for a bit, there were a couple good things about the episode. The biggest one was the architecture. In Minecraft, you can practically build and do anything that you could possibly dream up. Telltale has certainly taken that to heart, as many of the environments are vast and impressive to look at. But that's not enough to hold the entire episode together, and it's pretty much the only bright spot of the whole thing.
Minecraft: Story Mode has, again, failed to impress. A miniscule run-time paired with a plethora of uninteresting events helped to make this one of the weakest episodes we've seen from Telltale in a long, long time. We're now two episodes in, and we're still not finding a whole lot to like. The alarm bells are ringing – maybe this series is one that sounded better in theory than in practice, because it has not delivered thus far.