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Story Mode’s sophomore season tells the story of Jesse and friends as they
struggle against the seemingly all-powerful Admin. Last episode featured a
breakneck pace that relied heavily on action sequences, which masked the fact
that Telltale’s formula is aging. This episode brings an interesting premise of
locking the crew in a zombie-infested prison tucked behind a labyrinth, but
aside from a couple of standout moments, the result is a mostly forgettable
episode was a detour from Telltale’s aging approach to adventure, this episode
accentuates it. The repetition of being dumped into a room until you talk to
the right person or look at the correct piece of a wall has been tiresome for a
long time, and this episode doubles down on that concept. While Jesse’s friends
are locked away as well, many of the characters you interact with in the prison
are fellow prisoners that feel like insignificant one-shots in the grand scheme
of the series. The episode does a good job presenting entertaining characters,
but it doesn’t give me any reason why I should care about them beyond the scope
of our conversation.
the episode is spent in conversation trees, but some fun action sequences
present themselves, as well as more free-building. However, unlike the
free-build segments from the first two episodes, I’m less confident the
structure I made will reappear in future episodes.
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Block is largely forgettable, I enjoyed seeing how antagonistic Jesse could get
when dealing with the authority figures in the prison, and the back half of the
episode picks up considerably as the escape efforts mount. One moment sticks
with me for giving me the most gut-wrenching choice I can remember in the
series. I don’t want to spoil it, but deciding between two characters I’ve
grown attached to in a situation that feels like it could have real consequences
for the characters had me sitting on the screen for a long time, then
immediately regretting the decision. Though that particular situation upset me
as the results played out, thinking back to how Telltale usually finds a way to
work around your decisions to arrive at the same destination comforted me.
of any choice (or illusion of choice), my favorite sequence in Jailhouse Block
came at the end as Jesse squares off against a massive, three-headed ghast. You
control Jesse as he autoruns across the top of the labyrinth. Though you don’t
have to jump or avoid obstacles like a typical autorunner, you dodge fireballs
flying your way and deflect them back using Jesse’s sword. The music, the pace,
and the gameplay combine to make this an entertaining moment.
the rest of the episode is a slog. With so much conversation with characters
that feel like they’ll be left in the past after this episode, a dreary prison
setting, and gameplay that generally fails to engage, Jailhouse Block is the
weakest entry of the season. The fleeting high moments like the difficult
decision or the climactic battle don’t save the episode. However, like most
episodes Telltale releases in any of its myriad licensed series, it ends on a
solid cliffhanger that has me intrigued about what happens next.
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