Another month and a half, another episode release. Another hour and a half, another chapter completed. Another start to an episode — another guy’s butt patted? Well, that last one might be a first here, but the rest of Episode 7 feels like business-as-usual, though it effectively inserted tension and intrigue in a couple spots.
No surprise to anyone, Episode 7 introduces yet another world with some trial that Jesse and crew must overcome in formulaic fashion. Prior to this, the developers emphasized the potential monotony of the protagonists’ circumstances with a fun montage of them leaving and entering one-dimensional worlds, like a water world or a fire world — you know, ideas that ignite the imagination. Anyway, Jesse’s compadres come up with a more targeted idea that may or may not prove useful, and enter a world they presume contains red stone builders. The mindful adventurer might realize at the close of the episode the significant gap in logic that occurs here given the timing of the portals’ construction, but let’s suspend disbelief and delve into this world.
Although predictable, the way in which the episode plays out involves some fun dialogue and trinkets, but is otherwise ho-hum. The climax felt relatively intense with some expert camera work and surprise hurdles, but consistent with the length of the game, this is short-lived. Though Episode 7 does little to excite or divert from the typical trajectory, it certainly forwards the plot as it steers toward the final episode.
Speaking of steering, players will continue to respond to quick-time-events in order to further the story, though these rarely enhance the experience and serve more as tiresome hoops. Dialogue choices, like almost every other episode in any game Telltale has developed, are inconsistently timed and result in inappropriate choices made throughout. I will continue to make this complaint in every Telltale review I write until it’s fixed. Also in step with previous episodes, roaming sections are a simple matter of “press things into other things until stuff happens” with little thought required.
The music is forgettable, but the new voice actors meet the quality of our current team. Controlling Jesse is easier than before with choices like “look at” or “pick up” clearly placed far enough from one another to avoid misclicks. Graphically, Telltale employs some excellent new camera work, especially with a first-person-perspective that it hasn’t used before. Some might find this jarring and unusual, given that it diverts so heavily from the typical third-person, but I found this refreshing given the circumstances in-game.
Minecraft: Story Mode has continued to mature in its storytelling, but still fails to consider my rude and inconsiderate dialogue choices. Although the burden of broadly branching arcs and several different scripts for voice actors to read might be a bit cumbersome for Telltale, DONTNOD effectively included such scenarios in Life is Strange, and at least gave the impression that decisions mattered with simple verbal responses from NPCs. Here, every harsh, selfish comment may be met with brief rebukes from allies, but ultimately means nothing as allies continue to regard Jesse as magnanimous leader and hero. I admit this is a claim I often make, but Telltale’s inability or lack of desire to modify its script and development is woeful and disappointing.
The second part of Minecraft: Story Mode — episodes five to eight — continue to play and read better than previous entries, but it’s a far cry from other Telltale series. In addition, the diminishing quality and content is cause for concern. Buyer beware: if you’re still deciding whether or not to purchase this series, the improvements are insufficient. That is, unless, the eventuality of male butt-touching entices.