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Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two: Episode 2 - Giant Consequences
Score: 75%
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Introduction:

Usually, itís the second episode of a Telltale season that struggles to keep my attention. Much of this can be chalked up to the necessary evil of conflict-building involved in the construction of each seasonal storyline. Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two: Episode 2 Ė Giant Consequences is a strange departure from that norm. Not in the sense that itís a total subversion of what Iíve come to expect, but rather because I happened to dislike the episode that came before it. But Iíll give credit where itís due, and itís definitely due in some key areas. While this episode falls prey to some of the same issues that hinder most second episodes, it does not suffer from the characteristic poor pacing that naturally comes with the stage setting structure. By comparison, it puts the pedal to the metal, and is all the better for that.

Lil Lord Business:

Jesse and palsí little adventure in the Sea Temple has brought about the rise of the Admin, ostensibly a prismarine colossus with a booming voice and the wherewithal to destroy anything in sight. Episode 1 Ė Hero in Residence ended with Beacontown under siege by the towering golem, and Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two: Episode 2 Ė Giant Consequences wastes no time in getting to the action at hand. Thereís no regrouping to fight another day. No Pyrrhic victories or anything like that. Jesse is a man of action and heís not about to allow his city to fall so easily. The encounter that begins Episode 2 Ė Giant Consequences ends after the first chapter, in a manner that might have less-experienced adventurers perceiving an anticlimax.

But of course, the Admin is much, much more than the first impression he chose to make. And while his next appearance might seem little more than a sight gag and a funny voice, the threat he presents is legitimate, and the takeaway is obvious. This is an entity of incredible power, and the mind that wields it is absolutely unworthy of it. Iím starting to have my suspicions regarding this villain, and Iím definitely thinking something along the lines of what we saw in The Lego Movie. But heís a great deal more fun than the voiceless alien horror that was the Wither Storm, and more memorable than the one-off villains that populated the second half of Season One.


Indentured Adventurer:

Faced with the prospect of eternal night (a very dangerous concept for people who live in the Minecraft world), Jesse, Petra, Lukas, Jack, Radar, and Vos are essentially forced to complete a series of tasks for the Admin, whose true motives alternate between sketchy and ambiguously evil. Unfortunately for our heroes, their path intersects with that of Stella, the hopelessly narcissistic, unbelievably insecure mayor of Champion City Ė and Lluna, her cheeky, long-suffering pet llama. The adventure culminates in a twist I didnít really see coming (itís far more arbitrary than organic), and a hook for whatever comes next. That part, at least, is predictable as ever.

Telltaleís brand of interpersonal conflict has really been starting to wear on me as of late, and Iím shocked to realize that itís Minecraft: Story Mode - easily the most family-friendly of Telltaleís library in a long time Ė that features the most mature supporting characters. By that, I mean characters who donít overreact to the point of relationship-ending extremes over the pettiest nonsense. Ultimately, I'm specifically referring to just one: Lukas. Originally introduced as a kind-of-maybe-but-not-really antagonist early last season, Lukas has always been awesome. He gives input when asked and definitely has his own opinions on Jesseís decisions, but ultimately, he values his friendship with the team enough to shrug off disagreements and other minor differences. This makes him a sort of bizarre foil to Petra, whose strange, uncharacteristically standoffish behavior has made her surprisingly unlikable over the last couple of episodes.


Growing Pains:

As always, this adventure results in a lot of dialogue and action, but three holdover mechanics from Episode 1 return. Telltale attempts to incorporate the Minecraft license into the barely-existent gameplay that powers most of these adventures, and in my opinion, none of them work to the experience's benefit.

Letís start with the crafting itself. While Jesse and friends always ran across crafting tables in their previous adventures, the game took the wheel, sparing them (and you) from ever having to take the time to put each component exactly where it needed to go. Instead, the recipe appeared, you hit a button, and whatever you needed at the time sprang into existence. You no longer have that option. While you have recipes to work with, you have to manually place everything in its right order.

On the subject of wasting time, letís talk about the combat. Most Telltale games rely on a very simple system; the action is choreographed irrespective of player input, and quick time events are overlaid at specific moments. Itís always uninvolving and unsatisfying, which may be why Telltale has attempted to freshen things up a bit. Certain action sequences are a bit more hands-on this time around; the camera positions itself behind Jesseís back as he advances towards whatever needs killing. Heís got hearts to signify his health, a stamina bar to dictate how many swings he can take before getting tired, and he can roll out of the way of incoming projectiles. These sequences may be more interactive than the usual QTEs, but they are never actually fun. In fact, Iíll take the QTEs over this any dayÖ

Another moment allows Jesse to build something, Minecraft-style. The game thankfully doesnít force you to get creative, which is a good thing; while part of me appreciates the developers going to these lengths to establish a relationship with the property itís adapting, this moment is meaningless from a gameplay perspective.


Conclusion:

Itís still far too early to tell whether or not Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two will pan out right. While Episode 2 Ė Giant Consequences is certainly superior to what came before, it honestly didnít take too much to elevate it beyond that level. Ultimately, itís an enjoyable bit of comparatively stakes-free fluff that takes you to some interesting locations and introduces you to some pretty wacky characters. The pacing is vastly improved and the imagination on hand is a touch stronger. You know what to expect from the humor and writing, for the most part, so make of that what you will. Superfluous gameplay gimmicks aside, I think this episode is an improvement.

Does all of this mean Season Two is back on course? Well, not yet. But the damage done in the last episode might not be so permanent.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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