Unearthing Fool’s Gold

Game Informer

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first season of Minecraft: Story Mode introduced an immediate and daunting
conflict between main character Jesse and the Wither Storm – a massive beast
that consumes all in its path. Unfortunately, that arc concluded halfway
through the first season, and Telltale struggled to deliver a compelling antagonist
throughout the following four episodes. With season two, Telltale finds a new
intimidating villain in the all-powerful Admin. The Admin carries season two
throughout its five-episode run, but those episodes still have uninteresting
narrative detours, arbitrary choices, and stale gameplay.

up shortly after the first season, the new story begins with Jesse running the
happy village of Beacontown. The utopian feel doesn’t last long; the Admin
attacks the town, and after fending off the assault, Jesse and friends go on a
mission to find the Admin’s weakness and stop him once and for all. I love that
the story finds an adversary for Jesse who is seemingly more unstoppable than
the Wither Storm, while also adding a layer of personality the first-season
beast lacked.

core gameplay has you control Jesse by engaging in conversations between action
sequences, cutscenes, and puzzles. Though this season does a good job of
providing variety in its gameplay, I feel like I was simply being shepherded to
the next conversation or quick-time event.

second season also contains tedious moments like the first season where the
game dumps you into a small open area and has you talk to people and look at
points of interest until you trigger the correct element to progress the story.
Thankfully, these are less frequent and more concise.

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season introduces extra gameplay elements on top of the conversation trees and
puzzle solving. I like the new combat, which adds a new dodge-roll evasive
move, as well as a stamina meter, but I immediately enjoyed the free-build
sequences. These moments task Jesse with designing a structure on a
three-dimensional grid. I loved that the custom structure I crafted early on
reappeared multiple times throughout the season, but it feels like the story later
shoehorned these free-build moments in with little hope for players to get a
second glimpse of their creations. Though I enjoyed these free builds for the
most part, the tedium sinks in; I was relieved when the final episode didn’t
feature one.

overall story told by season two is entertaining. Seeing Jesse find ways to
stand up to the sheer power of the Admin is entertaining. Sure, convenient plot
twists abound to help Jesse compete with the Admin, but that doesn’t take away
from the fun of the tale.

the larger narrative is decent, drawn-out detours along the way sour the
experience. One such detour that provides little payoff is stumbling upon a
more primitive village where I need to compete in a menial competition to
impress its locals. In addition, my least favorite episode of the season,
Jailhouse Block, takes place almost entirely in a dull prison setting. Even the
highlight of that third episode, which gives you a gut-wrenching choice
regarding which character to leave behind, eventually proves unimportant, as
the character you leave simply goes missing for an episode before returning in
the finale.

entire series falls under the same problem where it gives you the illusion of
choice, but not much in way of concrete choices that truly affect how the story
turns out. The note that begins each episode stating that the story caters to
your in-game decisions isn’t technically incorrect, but its inability to
completely follow through on that promise is apparent.

With a
compelling overarching narrative and more engaging gameplay, Minecraft: Story
Mode – Season Two is an improvement over the uneven and inconsistent first
season. I enjoy the Admin as both a character and a threat to the world, and
seeing Jesse face off against him is entertaining. While the story takes
unnecessary and uninteresting turns and gives you few choices of consequence. Minecraft:
Story Mode – Season Two is a fine continuation for those who wanted more from
Jesse and crew.

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