When Mojang and Telltale announced their partnership for the first season of Minecraft: Story Mode, gamers were confused. How could a game like Minecraft, which is all about building your own world and modifying such a massive sandbox, support the story-driven structure we’ve found in previous Telltale games? But then it came out, and while it wasn’t groundbreaking by any means, we had a fun story aimed at the younger generation, with the Minecraft mechanics we’re all familiar with seamlessly integrated alongside a cast lovely characters. The events of the first season ended (spoiler alert) with Jesse and his crew saving the world from the Wither Storm, before heading to Sky City, fending off mobs, going through a series of portals, playing a game of spleef, then finally saving everyone again and returning to their homeland.
The second season kicks off with Lukas writing a novel about the adventures of the gang, while Jesse is introduced as a hero by everyone in Beacontown. We’re introduced to an all-too-exciting new central character, Radar, who is Jesse’s intern/assistant, and accompanies our protagonist around Beacontown while the rest of the crew leaves and makes their own preparations for a celebration called Founding Day. It’s the one aspect of the whole episode that’s really lighthearted; exploring the town opens up possibilities like building a statue for Nell of whatever you wish using Minecraft’s base building mechanics and choosing the best pig to play as the late Reuben at celebrations.
One problem emerges very quickly though, and that’s how slow Jesse walks. Even with the “brisk walk” option, it’s still a lot of work getting through town, especially if you need to turn around to interact with something you missed. There was also an occasion where it was possible to watch the bookstore in town, but due to the fixed camera angle, it was almost impossible to click on it, as it kept shaking back and forth. It’s nothing mandatory, but if you want to explore everything and exhaust all dialogue, it’s a pain.
The town itself is impressive, using a plethora of different block types and building types, while the characters and townspeople are all full of life and well-acted. Except one: the inclusion of Joseph Garrett, or Stampy Cat/stampylongnose as he’s best known to his fans on YouTube, is mediocre. His voice acting is poor and seems incredibly out of place, and his addition was clearly used as fan service to further entice kids who will rejoice that their favorite YouTube personality is in the game. For those who aren’t fans of him, the character comes across as shocking.
Without spoiling the overall plot too much, the first episode plays out very similarly to the main story arc of the first season: Jesse and Petra join forces to explore a mine shaft before stumbling across something much more sinister, calling on another prestigious adventurer. , then crossing the continent and discovering another threat. It’s very cliché, but at no point does it become particularly stale. There are a variety of environments, including Beacontown and its neighboring district, Champion City, a deep mineshaft with an elusive creature, and a huge sea temple, for example.
Gameplay, as usual with Telltale games, consists of simple puzzles and dialogue choices. There’s really nothing innovative to be found, but the world they’ve built is lovely and perfect for kids and young teens. It ticks all the boxes a Telltale game should, but while titles like The Walking Dead and Tales From The Borderlands were appealing to those unfamiliar with the universe, that’s not the case here. If you didn’t enjoy the first season, won’t be playing with your kids, or aren’t a fan of Minecraft in general, it’s safe to say that the first episode of the new season won’t be popular.
A small gripe that needs to be mentioned is when Jesse breaks or places dirt blocks. In the main Minecraft game, the sound sounds like a soft, squishy sound, similar to real dirt. In Story Mode, dirt feels like placing and breaking stone, with a much harsher sound. It’s a very finicky complaint we realize, as is the fact that Jesse and Petra couldn’t smash a mound of gravel to escape a situation despite gravel being incredibly quick to break, but it takes mention it.
The first episode is about two hours long, and while it did give us a half-hearted chuckle or two, it’s not particularly engaging. It’s fun, but the story is definitely aimed at younger Minecraft audiences instead of trying to appeal to older audiences. Not Telltale’s best work, but far from the worst too. If you’re looking for something a little more mature, can we recommend Tales from the Borderlands?