Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two - Episode 5: Above and Beyond (PC) Review

By Olivia Falk 18.12.2017 1

Review for Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two - Episode 5: Above and Beyond on PC

The final episodes of Telltale games are always interesting, because they're simultaneously a culmination of everything that's led to that point, and go against the whole premise of the game. How can choices really matter when it's all going to be over in an hour or two? Sure, it's possible to make some decisions in the interim, but they tend to feel more cosmetic than anything. As a result, the big question for episode five of Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two is simple: was it worth it?

At the very least, Above and Beyond feels like a fitting send-off for the characters of Minecraft: Story Mode. Almost everyone in the main cast makes an appearance, though obviously that can be impacted by the choices you made. Some of the reveals can feel a bit contrived, though, as characters "just happen" to make it out of previously inescapable scenarios. Maybe Telltale wanted to give the game a kid-friendly happy ending, but it makes those earlier scenes completely lose their tension and kills a lot of the desire to replay the series.

Speaking of suspension of disbelief, episode five occasionally takes it a bit too far. A large chunk of the episode involves sneaking into Beacon Town to avoid the wrath of Romeo the Admin. This frequently does a great job of raising the stakes, resulting in nervous grinning and nail-biting tension. To put it bluntly, though: there's unobservant, and then there's bloody Romeo. There are instances where Jesse and co. are literally a few metres away, and he's completely oblivious. He'll see Jesse, but then pause to squint, giving them time to escape; he doesn't even follow up on his suspicions until it's too late. At first, it's mildly amusing, but by the end it just grows tiresome, especially considering how willing the game is to kill you if you fail a QTE to evade Romeo. Apparently, Jesse's silent and invisible in cutscenes, but not when player input is required.

Screenshot for Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two - Episode 5: Above and Beyond on PC

Speaking of QTEs, while they get "better" as the game goes on - as in, many have ramifications for failing them - the opening in particular is littered with useless ones. Likewise, the classic "illusion of freedom" sections are present, in which the path forward involves simply holding a direction so Jesse walks down a hallway. Jesse walks down tons of hallways in cutscenes; why do some have to be "special." It forces the player to manufacture their own drama and tension, rather than earning it with clever camera work and the like.

If it feels like there's a lot to dislike about Above and Beyond, it's simply because there are a few rough edges that stick out on an experience that is otherwise comparable to its predecessors. The characters are fun, aside from a couple of brief (mercifully dialogue-free) appearances by good old YouTubers. The story concludes in a satisfying manner, even allowing the player to choose how they want Jesse's personal narrative to continue past the game. Lastly, while some may feel that choices they made didn't have a meaningful impact, there are enough events that clearly result from personal playstyle that it's liable to be a minority opinion.

Screenshot for Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two - Episode 5: Above and Beyond on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Like a good heist film, episode five gradually builds tension until even the smallest actions seem to have tremendous ramifications if done wrong. The idea of deliberately failing QTEs to see if they really matter fades away, because everything seems to matter. However, like a bad heist film, the stakes are occasionally undermined by showing just how far the odds have been swung in the hero's favour. As a conclusion (possibly for good) to Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two - Episode 5 is still strong, never becoming close to a chore to play. It's just a shame that it ended up being one of the weaker points of the season.

Developer

Telltale

Publisher

Telltale

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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   

Comments

I'm really hoping the Switch version comes out sooner rather than later. Despite its flaws, I enjoyed S1, and this second series looks to have righted many of the wrongs of the first.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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