Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 4: A Block and a Hard Place

 

Review by · December 30, 2015

Endings can elevate or obliterate a lackluster or gripping narrative. The culmination of the pieces and parts, the finale serves as the Christmas star atop a festive tree. Sure, the entirety of the tree probably means more and acts as the base for the ornament shining atop the evergreen, but eyes often fall on the apex. Telltale’s Minecraft: Story Mode has wilted, needles falling off, dog lapping up the remaining water, and ornaments barely hanging on for dear life. The shining beacon on top, however, encourages a smile.

I haven’t been especially kind to Minecraft: Story Mode, an episodic tale clearly intended for a younger audience. While I try to fairly maintain in my reviews that this may be a fine experience for children, it truly offers little to a mature playerbase. Despite the few hours of lackluster action and childish taunts, the final episode provides themes that transcend age, a fuller (though predictable) answer to loose ends, clever use of the Minecraft universe, and a classic climactic battle. Telltale adds flavor with bittersweet closure and a somewhat personalized experience.

Before I go on, some may be wondering: isn’t this the fourth episode? How is it the ending? This is certainly the ending to the narrative provided, but the fifth episode will likely be a continuation or epilogue. Telltale hasn’t offer much in the way of details regarding Episode Five, but I hope they don’t retcon on the fourth episode. Pure speculation, though!

With regard to my personal experience, I tried as hard as possible to be a complete jerk to just about everyone. Despite my efforts, my allies met me with unprecedented understanding or forgiveness. Whatever the case, the story never made it clear, but these are true friends. For every horrible thing I said or selfish decision I made — for all of the “____ will remember that” notes — I remained the leader, with one exception. I suppose this is fair and believable in the grand scheme of things, because my choices probably accounted for about 10% of Jesse, the playable character’s, actual dialogue. Which reminds me of the most profound argument against Telltale since The Walking Dead, Season 1: how much choice do we actually have in how the plot plays out?

Episode Four contains the staple meandering moments wherein players have to talk to allies in whatever order they like (choice!), as well as beloved quick-time-events. Players get to craft more stuff, which makes sense, I suppose. Dialogue timers randomly speed by during long strings of writing while characters talk, which is perplexing given that this is for children. A grown man with a graduate degree can’t even keep up and focus. It’s time to do away with the dialogue timer, Telltale.

Although the timer frustrates, at least the voice acting continues to accent the script. The music, too, brings touching scenes to life, which I may not have noticed in previous episodes, likely distracted by my discontent. Characters spread out a bit in the wandering sections, meaning less control issues with several NPCs huddled together as was a frustration in previous episodes. The clickables when crafting were somewhat unresponsive, but this is more nitpicking than anything else. Dialogue timers were easy to click on for the most part, and maneuvering the various landscapes remained simple.

While an improvement upon the series and as adequate a closure as Telltale could muster, Minecraft: Story Mode’s finale can only ornament a dying tree. The good news is that the withered green is perennial and came to an early close. I’m glad the writers were able to add a touch of color to the ending, as the series desperately needed it. Children may enjoy this as a surface-level narrative with some lessons to teach, but they will quickly return to crafting mode after story mode has finished.


Pros

Short, decent voice acting, good closure.

Cons

Simple, surface-level, dialogue timers.

Bottom Line

Intended for kids.

Graphics
69
Sound
75
Gameplay
65
Control
80
Story
65
Overall Score 65
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Bob Richardson

Bob Richardson

Bob has been reviewing games at RPGFan since 2009. Over that period, he has grown in his understanding that games, their stories and characters, and the people we meet through them can enrich our lives and make us better people. He enjoys keeping up with budding scholarly research surrounding games and their benefits.