Telltale released the first four episodes of its Minecraft series fairly quickly – within three months, actually – but opted to wait several months before deploying the fifth episode. We've slung our fair share of criticisms at this series, but one of our biggest complaints was that Episode Four felt like the end of Season One; the narrative arc that the developer had set up was done, so why is there a fifth instalment at all? Well, it seems Telltale had those exact same thoughts, as it's now announced a further three episodes for this season. So sure, technically Season One was just extended, but unofficially, it may be more beneficial to view this latest episode as the opening episode to Minecraft: Story Mode: Season 2, because that's what it really is. Sort of.
Episode 5 rejoins Jesse and his gang of the newly reformed Order of the Stone several months on from the last time that we met them. Rather than a bunch of unsure builders feeling their way through dangerous encounters with dumb luck, the group is now a seasoned collection of warriors and treasure hunters. On intel from one-time enemy Ivor, the gang heads to a long abandoned temple, only to discover something that will lead them to an isolated city above the clouds, thought to house a legendary resource creator known as the Eversource.
Amazingly, the narrative presented in this episode of the game offers up some of the most interesting ideas of the season. While much of the story in the previous episodes barely registered as being mediocre, this newest release actually has some interesting ideas to bring to the (crafting) table – of course, whether or not this is because many of the beats ape elements from BioShock: Infinite is a conversation for another day. The main problem, though, is that it's all crammed into a single episode.
This seems to be the approach Telltale is going to take with the final four episodes of the season. Judging by how Episode 5 is handled, it seems that the plan is to conclude with an anthology series of sorts, with different adventures, and different casts of characters surrounding Jesse on each journey. This release model doesn't sound like a bad idea, as Telltale has struggled to string together a narrative that can actually be interesting for an entire season, so daisy-chaining together a collection of disparate stories is a far more intriguing way to handle the game. It's just unfortunate, then, that it took until the fifth episode to determine this would be a better way to handle things. And it's even more unfortunate that the story that was chosen to start this collection of episodes is actually a narrative that could have sustained an entire season of releases.
Minecraft: Story Mode - Episode 5: Order Up! is the strongest individual episode in this series thus far. We say individual, because this is essentially a soft reboot of the season. Telltale's typical chapter-based story format just didn't work this time out, so an extended series of self-contained narratives may be the change that this spin-off needs. If these individual stories can maintain the level of intrigue in this instalment and build upon it, then we're interested to see what lies ahead. Until then, however, we remain sceptical – after all, the track record of this series isn't exactly on Telltale's side.