If there’s one thing for certain with Minecraft Story Mode, it's that Telltale Games has used it as a platform for experimentation in how they deliver their episodic content going forward. Putting out a disc version with just the first episode on it to begin with, swiftly delivered episodes of what is now the origin story, gender and race choice for the protagonist, and now starting a new series off the back of this---the final episode of season one---which is acting as both an epilogue and a prologue Confusing? A little, yes, but Minecraft Story Mode has been a pleasant surprise despite all this disruption and tinkering. Still, it’d be nice if they could have ditched the whole ‘waiting-months-for-the-final-piece-of-the-story’ though. Anyway, this is a new dawn, a new adventure, the beginning of a new tale.
Fresh from their escapades involving saving the world from the destructive Witherstorm, Jesse and the gang are now fully-fledged adventurers known as the ‘New’ Order of the Stone, seeking out treasure in temples and the like. We join them as they approach one of these temples seeking out a mysterious artifact on a tip from former villain, Ivor. This whole opening sequence shows where Telltale has been using the extra time between episodes. The whole temple treasure run has a confident swagger of a developer finally clicking with its source material. The warm humour flows evenly now, instead of being occasionally awkward and standoffish, while the Q.T.E. action scenes are similarly fluid. Perhaps previous episodes saw the developer struggling to shake then overly adult nature of its more recent projects at times, creating an internal conflict that was hard to shake with each episode out so soon after the last. Here, it appears a lot of feedback has been taken on board, and the result is a more impressive, steadier and enjoyable slice of family fun.
This swagger continues on as the rest of the episode moves into gear, and provides us with a new city among the clouds to explore, and secrets to unravel as it soon becomes apparent that one of Minecraft’s greatest pleasures is outlawed in this floating realm. That’s right, dance is prohibited, so you, a young Kevin Bac...no, hang on, building! It’s building that’s controlled in Sky City. The leader prefers to build everything themselves, and only allows others to build meagre things via a permit. This provides an intriguing backdrop to your main quest, which involves racing to retrieve a new and potentially world-changing treasure against some old foes. Like the opening segment, this plot moves along at a pleasingly breezy pace, not stopping to drag you down with pointless searching and waffling, just cutting to the chase and telling a self-contained tale within the broader narrative. Simply put, this is the most cohesive, and generally interesting, piece of storytelling in the series, something that is aided by some of the best character work yet.