Minecraft: Story Mode has been a surprising series from Telltale. The game could have taken so many different story tracks, and settled on one that was quite unique. The first season was enjoyable, with some bumps here and there, and then it ended one episode early, following the main story with a new adventure of its own. Then Season 2 was announced, surprising once again, and delivering an enjoyable set of episodes, though the bumps in the road continued. Now the finale is here, and sadly all surprise seems gone from the series. The episode closes the story in predictable ways, with deus ex machina throughout, but if you’ve stuck around this long, it’s a serviceable conclusion.
The Admin is wreaking havoc across the world of Minecraft: Story Mode. Impersonating Jesse, he’s taken over control of Beacon Town, and it’s up to our band of heroes to stop him using the newly discovered “word of passage.” The team has journeyed across the land and into other areas that no one knew of before, but now things come home for the final battle. Can Jesse and his friends stop The Admin? Can he still be redeemed from his evil ways? It’s all up to you.
Conclusions are hard, especially for Telltale titles where players often make choices that send the story down different paths. Bringing everything together for a finale usually chops off choices, and results in the most simplistic episode of the season. That isn’t always the case, as seen in The Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands, but the team does fall into many traps in Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 – Episode 5 “Above and Beyond.”
Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 – Episode 5 doesn’t stick the landing, but it also doesn’t fall totally on its face
The plot is almost exactly what you would expect, if you’ve been playing each episode so far. There’s no shocking developments, no surprise introductions, nothing that really makes this episode feel like it was necessary as a standalone experience. In fact, the lack of surprise extends beyond the overall story and into the very minor plot points.
Without getting into spoilers, there’s a heist-style moment within Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 – Episode 5 where Jesse plans out a way to get some fireworks. As usual, you get to see this plan play out as he explains it, before cutting back and letting the player actually put it into action. What’s odd here is that there’s little that goes wrong during the plan, so what you play through is pretty much the exact same thing you watched happen a moment earlier. It’s a simple complaint, but it’s exemplifies the issues found within this conclusion.
The story here just isn’t all that interesting. The episodes that preceded it had some cool elements, but things don’t come together in a solid way. Instead everything is predictable and fits neatly together in the exact way you might expect. Everything is very convenient as well with multiple times where our characters were put into a sticky situation, only to be saved by some random happenstance. This even extends to previous story elements that seemed ripe for a revisit, but instead just get hand waved away.
There’s also a lot of hits to players’ suspension of disbelief. This is not the first time for the series, of course, but it’s pretty heavy here. Things like, characters working out vastly over complicated plans to solve relatively simple problems, given what we know about how this Minecratian world operates. Characters being put in time sensitive life-or-death situations and spending precious seconds explaining how dangerous it is, and what they might be able to do to solve the problem. Things like this break the delicate tension the game tries to create, and it happens a bit too often in Episode 5 “Above and Beyond.”
With all of that said, this is not a terrible episode of Minecraft: Story Mode. It’s palatable and finishes out the story that you’ve likely put almost 10 hours into. If you played the season up to this point, you should finish it out. There’s some fun moments here, and the humor is some of the best the season has had to offer. It’s just nothing more than it had to be in the story department, and even detracts from some of the more important moments from earlier episodes.
Everything else remains largely the same for Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 – Episode 5 in comparison to its predecessors. The visuals are still solid, offering a true to the source style that actually looks better in some ways than the original Minecraft. Music is once again quite enjoyable, as expected. Voice acting is mostly solid across the board, but two characters who make a return seem to either be off their game, or have been recast. It’s quite jarring if you’ve been a longtime player.
Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 – Episode 5 doesn’t stick the landing, but it also doesn’t fall totally on its face. The season has been better than many anticipated, but this is some of Telltale’s weaker work overall. This conclusion wraps things up very predictably and without much in the way of true drama or tension. Humor is decent though, with the more cringe-worthy aspects of the game getting toned down. It’s a suitable conclusion to the season, but if you haven’t bought in yet, there’s not much reason to now.
Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 - Episode 5
- Available On: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4, PC, Mac, Mobile
- Published By: Telltale Games
- Developed By: Telltale Games
- Genre: Graphic Adventure
- US Release Date: December 19th, 2017
- Reviewed On: PC
- Quote: "Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 - Episode 5 doesn't stick the landing, but it also doesn't fall totally on its face. It's a suitable conclusion to the season, but if you haven't bought in yet, there's not much reason to now."