And so again it begins.
In my brief-yet-torrid history of reviewing, MineCraft Story Mode Season 1 was the longest time I have spent on a single game to review. What I believed was 5 episodes quickly became 8 moving from what I thought was a mostly strong first story into a slightly more boring and lost expansion with scores bouncing around and never keeping stable. When I had finally finished on what was a low note with episode 8 I was expecting it to be over.
Season 2 builds straight off the back of Season 1, moving the story straight onwards into another 5 episode adventure and much like Season 1 the first episode comes in quite strong giving a small storyline for the episode as well as building up the overarching world and story to prepare you for the next 4. I finished this episode much in the same feelings of hope and curiosity as before though I still worry this will drop downhill quickly.
Our story continues a short time after the first adventures with our heroes living more relaxed lives after defeating the Witherstorm and travelling through portals. The gang, still maintaining their original voice actors including Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn, are now pining for their adventures as they have taken up the job of managing towns, with our hero Jesse being particularly busy as the founder and mayor of Beacontown. As usual however, adventure calls and Jesse and friends all have their lives flipped over as the world is once again put into peril.
Besides the return of our original cast the gameplay is built upon and new characters appear quickly. Characters include Radar, Jesse’s assistant and obsessive fan of the Order of The Stone; and Stella, leader of the nearby Champion City and rigid ruler with a comedic side for good measure. One would not be out of place worrying that the other original heroes may just disappear into the ether, as they are present only for a short while and it only gives you certainty the Lucas will return for more than just the very start. But only time will tell here I’m afraid.
Pretty much everything which worked from Season 1 returns here. Graphically the game is really no different and graphical options are marginally expanded, although Vsync is permanently on thankfully. The style of travel-puzzle-choices from the first is pretty similar here but the game makes more overt indications that your choice will affect the story than before. The biggest addition here is the group play feature. Now as opposed to being an individual story you can crowdsource your decision with other people to see whether you all together can save the world once again. It is a strange addition to the game, there is no real conceivable reason for this to be added beyond possible streaming gimmicks, but I don’t think it detracts from the game by it being there.
The freedom given with a game like MineCraft is enough to make the story more unique than other games from Telltale and that was prevalent in the first season and continues on here. The blend of decisions, wandering around and puzzles all mean that the experience never gets too boring. The combat, now more often than in previous games, feels less disjointed than in the original thanks to a revamp and addition of movement in 3D space, and the addition of stamina and heart health makes the game feel a little closer to MineCraft. The environments are also a lot more detailed now too and far more diverse. You move from cities to oceans to temples all in the same episode, which makes you feel like actual strong progress is being made, even if it is an illusion.
If there is a fault here it’s that this is the same as Season 1. Now major new ground is broken here, and if you take off the revamping the only new addition is one small section where you can build your own monument. But other than that this is the same polished experience from the first season.
But if that is your jam than you will enjoy Season 2. This is very much Marmite: Those who enjoyed Season 1 and want more will happily eat this up. Those who did not enjoy Season 1 will not enjoy this new addition. Episode 1 adds nothing to the formula and for some that will be fine. While this first episode get a strong 7 for being a good strong start to the new series this likely won’t be enough to bring you in if Season 1 didn’t do the trick.