Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two – Episode 5: Above and Beyond Review

Telltale Games are widely known for their impressive story telling, made apparent by their massively successful The Walking Dead series. Much like other developers, they have their ups and and they have their downs. Minecraft: Story Mode is most certainly of the latter, which is a shame really when you take into account that Telltale quite literally had a blank canvas to build upon. Season one of Minecraft Story Mode was inconsistent, short, and lacked a gripping plot. Season two on the other hand has been marginally more intriguing, but still suffered from short episodes. The finale to Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two is here at last, but does it take the story to new heights? No, not by a long shot.

The episode lasts for roughly just over one hour, which is hardly surprising when you think back to the length of previous episodes. I’ve always admired Telltale for their commitment and capacity to produce excellent stories, which is an expectation I suspect has a part in why I have been so disappointed with their take on Minecraft. Episode five ‘Above and Beyond’ starts out exactly where the last episode concluded. The Admin has taken on the form of Jesse and is restructuring and ruling Beacon Town, forcing its inhabitants into a life of fear. The real Jesse (along with buddies) rolls up just in time to deal with the Admin once and for all and put a stop to his plans – whatever they may be.

I say that loosely because I personally never fully felt as though his intentions were relayed well enough to understand what his motivations are. In fact the entire season has fluctuated as far as the story is concerned. Whilst the structure of the story has been one that’s easy to digest, the plot pillars have been anything but. Much like season one, friendship has played a significant role in season two. The problem here is that I never connected to the characters in season two as well as I did in season one, and even back then I couldn’t particularly care less about them. Above and Beyond just seems to slam characters into place for the sake of padding out a friendship plot pillar that could have been executed just as well without.

I understand that this game has a wide target audience as far as age goes, but it would have been nice to see more effort spared for this aspect of the game. Above and Beyond does offer more action than previous episodes, but it’s also dragged out quite a bit as a result. Most of the episode takes place in Beacon Town, and even has an annoying repeat sequence that I can only describe as a means to stretch out the length. QTE segments of play are painfully present once again, with each not posing much of a challenge at all. I don’t have anything against QTEs, but if you’re going to include them in your game, at least make sure that you don’t have time to cook a breakfast in between the prompt and the command.

Another means to stretch out the length of the episode goes to a mind boggling puzzle that has a conclusion that still alludes me. I wont spoil the puzzle for you by providing an answer, but unless I missed something, I have no idea as to what relevance the answer has with the puzzle. I couldn’t quite forgive Telltale for once again making all of my decisions (leading me to this very point in the game) feel worthless or needless. Telltale were once held in high regard for giving their audience a choice vs a consequence. This formula just seems to be weakening with each series they throw themselves on, and Minecraft: Story Mode – Season Two is no exception to that. I’m not saying that choices are not present, but they’re hardly as dominant as the choices were in Telltale’s other works.

Despite my dislike of this series, and indeed this episode, I do need to keep in mind that this will largely be appreciated by the younger players. There’s a good service to the source material in this regard and I have no doubt that younger fans will love the ins and outs of this game. The visuals are faithfully inline with Minecraft and the voice acting throughout not just this episode, but the entire season, has once again been nailed extremely well. I would have liked to have seen more variety to the locations in the finale, as well as more structure and a meaningful end, but it gets the job done nevertheless. If a third season is to be produced, Telltale needs to follow season one and two up with more emphasis on both choice and story matter.

Conclusion

The finale to Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two lacks the quality and care that Telltale have produced elsewhere. The conclusion to the plot is passable, but despite some solid voice acting and decent visuals, this episode hardly packs anything that breaks new ground. Perhaps the most irritating thing here is that this is merely an average serving from an otherwise very capable developer.

This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.

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Good
  • Great voice acting.
  • Decent visuals throughout.
  • Conclusion is passable.
Bad
  • Cheap gameplay elements in place to stretch the length.
  • Some story concepts seem slapped together with little care.
  • Much like previous episodes, it's not very lengthy.
5.9
Average
Gameplay - 5.1
Graphics - 7
Audio - 8.2
Longevity - 3.2
Written by
I've been playing games for as long as I can care to remember. Here at Xbox Tavern, I write news, reviews, previews and more. I'm a long time Final Fantasy fan, I can camp like you've never seen before in most FPS, and if I'm on a racing game, I tend to purposely trade paint. Feel free to add me - Gamertag: Kaloudz

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