Finally. An end to a series whose entrance Telltale fans had speculated was a stretch for the company. The close to a series whose DLC — and whose expense — had shocked consumers invested in the original four (or was it five?) episodes. Finally, the end of my eight reviews covering this ill-founded experiment into childish and, at times, child-like excursion into the realm of blocks, sticks, and crafting tables.
Episode 8 opens where Episode 7 left off: the heroes staring agape at a secret staircase supposedly leading to prosperity. What they find may be just that, but the hour and a half finale is filled with obligatory thrills, conflicts, and closure. Fans will find Telltale’s formula in the series is held intact. Simple antagonists lacking depth and complexity stand in the way of our almost equally shallow protagonists as they meet all challenges for the sake of “adventure,” ignoring the real dangers of defeat. The ending of this eight episode series is sort of insulting in its brevity, but it does technically offer closure. Those who completed Episode 4 will find that ending far more satisfying.
Complaints aside, Telltale has truly mastered the narrative structure of these bite-sized episodes wherein each debuts an isolated adventure joined to its fellows by a tenuous thread. For those looking for processed, plastic-y chocolate rather than a steak, Telltale’s Minecraft: Story Mode aims to please. Of course, no one seeking a ribeye should be purchasing this sort of title in the first place, which is why I applaud Telltale for its consistency. As for the targeted audience, Minecraft: Story Mode is certainly intended for younger audiences as indicated by the simplicity of its story, but this episode especially included higher level words I wouldn’t expect even most adults to know. In addition, the dialogue timer continues to zip by while NPCs continue to talk and three long answer choices await selection.
Episode 8 offers somewhat intense action sequences that are basically watered down Flash game fare. Within the context of Story Mode, these platforming sequences complement the intensity of the scene well even if the player input lacks substance. I continued to engage in the story in a typically oppositional, defiant nature, which rarely yielded true consequences. At the worst of times, the NPC would respond with a snarky or insulted comment, followed by the “so-and-so will remember that” blurb (which they never did), only to be met with complete cooperation on Jesse’s part. In previous Telltale titles, fans had complained that their choices didn’t matter, but within the context of the experience, the dialogue at least matched my choices. Here, I sat deflated as Telltale clearly wasn’t equipped or ready to have NPCs interject with equally snarky comments in response as if they truly “remembered that.”
The camera work and tribute to the Minecraft universe continues to be the shining beacon of this series that otherwise lacks consistency and depth. In my initial reviews, I commented on how Telltale faltered in how they approached the Minecraft universe as the assets borrowed seemed more like garnishing rather than embedded components of this world. Now, Telltale seems to intuitively understand what they can use from Notch’s vision in a way that intimately affects the world and those who inhabit it.
In terms of presentation, the camera works only because the visuals do. The happy marriage of bending pixels not quite consistent with Minecraft works here. The voice actors remain capable, but the omission of memorable music inspires a hollow feeling similar to the story itself. Unlike previous episodes, I encountered absolutely no control issues — selecting commands, perusing the inventory, and activating dialogue boxes was never arduous.
Admittedly, I’m a little sad to say goodbye to this series, mostly because I’ve spent so much time with it. However, the sigh of relief at not having to review yet another childish Minecraft episode calms my body. Despite my complaints, maybe some prodigious child who can keep up with the dialogue timer and enjoy the occasionally challenging vocabulary can find solace in a title truly catered to them; an audience exists for this title, I just don’t know who or where they are. Still, I feel a little cheated by the quick ending, which I suppose hints at a glimmer of enjoyment.