In my last review, I complimented Minecraft: Story Mode’s newly found niche as it moved away from childish arguments. While Story Mode won’t blow the blocks off of anyone’s house that took tens of hours to craft, it has its place as a narrative sugar high. Episode 6 continues to follow this course, though a few departures to youth-centered exchanges occur.
As our valiant heroes continue their search for adventure, they find themselves in another world without a way to get out. Of course, the formula of action, dialogue, action, dialogue, etc. appears with proper timing and pacing — one of Story Mode’s starkest strengths. Amidst a zombie horde, a seemingly random tome hovers in the distance. While reading and staving off the brains-deprived, the tome seems purposefully placed in order to offer an invitation to a nearby house. Upon arrival, the team runs into another group of one-dimensional personalities. Cue a gruesome death and the remainder of the episode revolves around a murder mystery in a mansion in which they’re trapped. Novel concept, hmm?
Although the setting and catalyst for hijinks aren’t inspired, the way in which the characters in the Minecraft universe interact creates a unique experience. This is one major way in which the latest Story Mode episodes have differed from the first four. For example, the structure of the house, nature of the traps, and even the decorations play a pivotal role in the clues and chases that occur throughout this action-packed episode. Some old, tired mechanics make appearances, such as crafting, but these are forgivable due to how central they are to the Minecraft universe.
The main cast takes a bit of a back seat, with Jesse playing a more primary role than usual and time shared amongst the new group they encounter. As alluded to earlier, the dialogue is occasionally too childish, but most of the choices serviceably drive the narrative, accurately representing Jesse’s relationship with the rest of the troupe. Of course, as I’ve noted in previous reviews, no matter how much of a jerk I try to be to the other characters and no matter how many times they “will remember that,” everyone treats Jesse like an altruistic, magnanimous hero. Still, Jesse easily fills that role in the sense of the big picture as he engages in all sorts of acrobatic and unlikely feats. But, hey, it’s an adventure game targeted toward a younger audience.
Speaking of which, despite all of my praise about pacing and thematic authenticity, this is still a series geared toward a younger audience that most people in their late teens and beyond will have trouble relating to. The comments I’ve made are more to incentivize would-be buyers to rethink a purchase for their kids or younger siblings. For children, this title serves as capable fan service to the Minecraft obsessed. Story Mode continues to look the part, though this isn’t necessarily a compliment to those who find Minecraft’s presentation jarring. The music seems to have made huge strides in terms of tension and how it complements each scene, particularly action sequences. Unfortunately, the controls continue to falter, with odd click boxes which serve as minor nuisances. Regarding “gameplay,” the combat flows adequately and convinced me that I was in the midst of an important chase as I navigated monsters, lava, and flying arrows.
Minecraft: Story Mode continues to make strides toward a respectable gaming experience for its targeted audience. Telltale seems to have discovered its identity, which bodes well for future installments — whenever the next one is released. For now, I’ll enjoy reflecting on the youthful adventures of Jesse and his blocky companions when I decide the weight of spiteful gods and backstabbing merchants are too much for me to bear.