Title: Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2, Episode 3: “Jailhouse Block”
Available on: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Android, iOS
Where to buy: Steam, Xbox Live, PSN Network
So far in the 10 episodes of Journey of Jesse and his/her friends, we’ve seen a number of interesting storylines, but set in the realm of Minecraft. From a murder mystery to a sentient AI to survival games, Minecraft: story mode managed to put a unique spin on these ideas without making them look like carbon copies of the stories they were inspired by (Clue, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Battle Royal). The third episode of season two is no different, as “Jailhouse Block” sees a unique take on a prison break from the Admin’s Sunshine Institute.
Much like previous episodes, “Jailhouse Block” does a commendable job of introducing supporting characters for Jesse and the gang to converse with. The introduction of Prisoner X and the Warden creates some interesting interactions with Jesse, but more importantly, adds more mysterious stories to uncover. Then there are the hilarious prisoners, Oxblood (who looks like Hellboy) and his Mooshroom Geoff, the zombie flesh-lover Carmine, and of course the psychotic Minecraft version of “Bob Ross”, Rob (Later, tater).
As much as I really enjoyed the story of Episode 3, I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more admin. Since his introduction, the Administrator has been one of my favorite characters, let alone villains, in recent memory. His concept alone in Minecraft lore is brilliant and Meta, but his personality is also mischievously fun. Although he shows up, it’s only for a few minutes. “Jailhouse Block” revealed a lot more information about the antagonist, however, and continued to move the main story along nicely while sprinkling in the interesting side stories that made up the Sunshine Institute.
We even have a face to go along with the name, as The Admin’s real name has been revealed to be… Romeo. While this may be far less intimidating, it does provide some insight into the endgame. The goal was set to strip the evildoer of his powers, just as he did for his former friend-turned-prisoner Xara, aka Prisoner X.
Unsurprisingly, the story has always been the most important part of the series, especially as a Telltale game. But episode three did something very important that every episode in the series has failed to do so far, and that adds some varied combat. Even with the more fluid and dynamic combat that the new season has introduced, each fight sequence has felt relatively the same. Each fight usually involves Jesse defeating a few enemies, without even having to really dodge. This episode saw a lot more variety, especially in the sword fight with Petra/Jack and the Ghast showdown.
The big decision the game forced near the climax of the story was also one of the toughest I’ve ever had to make in a Telltale game. At first, I was excited to go on an adventure in Prisoner X’s cell with my two favorite support characters. But when it came time to choose which one to save from the pressure plate trap set up by Xara, I had to step back and really think. Even then, I still didn’t know if I had made the right decision.
While Telltale games are synonymous with framerate issues, Minecraft: story mode continues to run considerably smooth, with only minor pixelated jumps here and there. I will say there were a few scenes that had continuity issues though. A second Radar would be right next to Jesse, then when Jesse immediately turns around and looks at the group standing on the other side, Radar was with them.
Speaking of Radar, the recent episode handled Yuri Lowenthal’s character much better this time around. The last episode saw the sidekick get a little too gritty and whiny for my liking, but Prison Radar did a solid job of winning me back.
As the season passes halfway through (unless DLC is announced) Minecraft: story mode really firing on all cylinders. Consistently entertaining performances from new and old characters, intriguing sub and main storylines, and improved gameplay make “Jailhouse Block” another solid installment in the series.
Verdict: Minecraft: story mode continues to surprise when it comes to telling fun stories, especially after the series got off to a rocky start just a few years ago. If you’ve enjoyed the series thus far, as well as the Admin storyline as much as I have, then you will no doubt enjoy the third episode of season two. Just like many previous episodes, the next episode can’t come soon enough.
After overcoming the icy obstacles of the Admin, Jesse and the gang are rewarded with a one-way ticket to the Sunshine Institute, an almost inescapable prison buried deep in the world and filled with all manner of miscreants. To get home, Jesse must find a way to escape, even if it means employing some desperate measures.
- A unique story reusing old concepts
- Entertain new characters
- Varied combat sequences
- The main decision was actually painful
- Frame rate and scene continuity issues
- Need more admin