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Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two: Episode 5 - Above and Beyond
Score: 70%
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Introduction:

Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two: Episode 5 Ė Above and Beyond features, in its episode synopsis, the phrase "the world may never be the same." My reaction to it wasÖ probably not what Telltale was going for. Omens of cataclysm and perspective-shifting developments are difficult to take seriously when they apply to a multiverse where the laws of both nature and physics are revised and rewritten on the fly. Not to mention, where things have a feeling of utter inconsequentiality.

Compared to the rest of Telltaleís recent backlog, this has always been a more family-oriented, low-stakes bit of interactive storytelling. As of this writing, Iíve spent more time with Jesse and the Order of the Stone than I have with any other Telltale characters, and the cynic in me has long since won out. Charming as they may be, I just donít care about this world or its characters anymore. But it turns out, knowing this going into the final episode of a run might have actually worked to the gameís benefit. Episode 5 Ė Above and Beyond is a mildly entertaining finale that neither elevates nor sinks what came before it.


/ban-ip Romeo:

When we last left our heroes, they were on the last leg of their journey back to Beacontown. After a series of misadventures that took them through the likes of a derelict temple, a gauntlet of deadly trials, and jail, theyíre finally back. Of course, things are pretty bad: Romeo is running Beacontown disguised as Jesse, and his leadership skills are about as good as youíd expect, considering his character. Heís entirely unsympathetic; a petty, murderous man-child who is impossible to understand, much less redeem. And he only exists to torment our heroes, which in turn builds to a catharsis when heís finally brought low.

So itís up to Jesse and pals to seek out any remaining friendly faces, convert them to the cause, and come up with a plan involving the special contingency Ė the "word of passage" discovered previously. The resolution of this arc left me unsatisfied; one particular individual comes to a character-redefining epiphany so abruptly and inorganically that I was just shaking my head through the entire scene. But I knew it was coming, given the relatively toothless nature of this series. So whatever, I guess.


The Scouring of Beacontown:

Everything that you expect to happen in Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two: Episode 5 Ė Above and Beyond does indeed happen. Certain plot elements come full circle, characters once thought missing or dead return as dei ex machina, and a handful of binary choices determine the fates of both the hero and the villain of the piece. If youíve been keeping tabs at all on where each major and minor character stands in relation to Jesse, youíll have a good idea of where itís all going to end up by the time the credits roll.

Thankfully, there arenít any extended building sequences. Unfortunately, the final combat encounter with Romeo is the worst the series has to offer. Itís a tedious, janky, profoundly unfun slog that wears out its welcome seconds in, but goes on for minutes. Itís so poorly-designed that I actually saw a Game Over screen. Iím operating on the assumption that the entirety of Season Two was developed at once, so Iím going to implore Telltale one final time: no more of this combat, please.


Conclusion:

By all means, if youíve enjoyed this series up to now, you will likely continue to enjoy it. At this point, though, that should have always been the determining factor. Telltaleís episodic release schedule gives the player the ability to opt out, but I still strongly feel that it undermines their games and negatively impacts how people evaluate them as a whole. I donít feel this is the case of Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two, but only because I didnít much care for it from the start.

Where it matters most, I would say that Minecraft: Story Mode: Season Two is one of Telltaleís weaker efforts. While its mastery and application of the classic Mojang aesthetic is as winsome as ever, it isnít a particularly compelling continuation of a story that wasnít all that great in the first place. Itís long since run out of steam, and it feels like itís just kindaÖ there. If thatís good enough for you, more power to you. It isn't good enough for me.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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