Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two - Episode 1: Hero in Residence (PC) Review

By Olivia Falk 24.08.2017 1

Review for Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two - Episode 1: Hero in Residence on PC

Another day, another new Telltale series. It seems that every franchise is getting adapted to the tried-and-true "interactive movie" format, and with the first season of Minecraft: Story Mode, the formula was starting to show its age. The series wasn't without its high points, but these came with tonal inconsistencies, technical problems, and some downright cringe-worthy moments. The prospect of a second season didn't so much appear as a chance at redemption as another cheap cash grab on top of the first season's questionable Adventure Pass. However, completely out of left field, Telltale actually seems to have made some changes with this one! The question is, are they enough?

In a word, yes. In more words, Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two has begun in fine form, deftly eclipsing the middling moments of its predecessor. Telltale seems to be listening to online feedback, fleshing out systems that previously felt tacked-on and adding new features to extend the experience past an initial playthrough.

The most noticeable change is with the story. While it does get off to a slightly slow start, the episode melds the strong points of each half of the first season. It boasts the engaging writing of the Adventure Pass, while concluding in a cliff-hanger that suggests that the pass' "Adventure of the Week" format has been mercifully left behind for this excursion. With The Order of the Stone temporarily disbanded to focus on its members' individual ventures, Jesse and Petra come across a mysterious glove that opens a massive green portal underground. With the portal spewing monsters out into the world, the two join up with some new adventurers to hunt down the legendary "Structure Block", in the hopes of sealing up the portal. Of course, things are never that easy, and their quest garners some...less-than-desirable attention.

Screenshot for Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two - Episode 1: Hero in Residence on PC

The new characters are all well-acted, and a selection of endearing individuals return. There's something to be said for Radar (The Order of the Stone's "intern") coming off as loud and obnoxious, but it's equally likely that you'll find him to be a lovable, yet hyperactive goof. The YouTubers also make their not-so-triumphant return, once again showing up to completely break any sense of immersion. Seriously, why couldn't they just refer to them as "Stampy" and "Stacy"; why use their full YouTube usernames? At least they don't take over the plot (yet), being relegated to a handful of brief conversations and a debate over the superiority of pumpkin pie vs. cake.

The tone of the game is handled far better this time, with music that actually seems to matter to the overall atmosphere and far less dialogue that's inappropriately cringe-inducing. There is a major problem with lip-syncing, though, with mouths periodically freezing as dialogue continues to pour out unrestrained. It's not game-breaking by any stretch, but it's a noticeable issue nonetheless.

Screenshot for Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two - Episode 1: Hero in Residence on PC

Of course, the timed dialogue choices, QTEs, point-and-click sections and "hold a single button down for a while" segments all return, but they're supplemented by some great new gameplay additions. A new building segment gives a much-needed opportunity for creativity, allowing players to make a personal mark on the world. Plus, it's nice to be able to, you know, build something in a game based on a game about building things.

Also, the combat system from the first season has been significantly fleshed out, using a stamina metre to allow a series of quick strikes against enemies. Dodging is also possible, with left and right movement causing Jesse to perform a dodge roll in the appropriate direction. It can still feel a touch clunky at times, especially when dealing with enemies that have area-of-effect attacks that need to be dodged with a backstep. However, it's a vast improvement from the first season's yawn-inducing fight scenes.

Screenshot for Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two - Episode 1: Hero in Residence on PC

Dialogue choices are also accompanied by some much-needed updates, namely in the case of feedback. When major decisions are made, a "junction point" marker appears in the top corner of the screen to show that the story has taken a supposedly major divergence from its other potential paths. Just how these will play into the wider narrative remains to be seen, but for the time being, they're a great way of highlighting certain points to fill the mind with the possibilities the other choices might have held. They are something of a double-edged sword, though, as there were a few times where the lack of a marker made it clear that the previous choice was largely meaningless, no matter how agonizing it may have been.

Lastly, "character updates" help to give clearer outcomes to choices or combinations of them. For instance, during a conversation with Petra towards the end of the episode, a pop-up appeared saying "Petra is grateful". It contextualized some of the choices that might have otherwise faded into the background, raising questions about just how many actions played a part in her feeling that way. Furthermore, it brought up more "what if?" scenarios, similar to the junction points: is there a way to make Petra ungrateful? To make her downright angry? Only a replay (or a Let's Play video) can tell!

Screenshot for Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two - Episode 1: Hero in Residence on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two is a shining example of iteration done right. Instead of just slapping a new story onto the previous season's set of mechanics and calling it a day, it seems to be trying to deliver a far superior experience. It does suffer mildly from "setup tedium" when it comes to getting the plot going, but once it does, it becomes clear that there's a lot more going on here than in the first season. Assuming that the ride stays smooth throughout, this is shaping up to be one hell of a sophomore season for Minecraft: Story Mode.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


It's great to see the series improving, because I'd read some of the first season was a bit sub-par. Great review, Olivia! Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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