Telltale have, as always, been busy crafting their next adventure, and this time it comes in the form of Minecraft Story Mode Season 2. Episode One is now available, and is quite fittingly titled “Hero in Residence”. I can’t say I was a big fan of Minecraft Story Mode Season One, in fact, that’s probably putting it too lightly. I loved the first episode, but what followed was unfortunately not only a waste of hard drive space, but a waste of time. Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed the conclusion as much as I did the opening, but the episodes that bridged those together just felt boring and filler. I wont even touch upon the added episodes that followed on soon after. This ladies and gentlemen is precisely why I was, and still am, sceptical about what Minecraft Season Two houses.
As expected, you’re able to pull over your save data from the first season, which will implement the choices you made throughout the previous adventure. It’s unclear as to how deep these decisions will impact season two, but if season one is anything to go by, they wont do much in terms of evolving or changing the story. If you never got the chance to try out season one, you can indeed create a back story to supplement the experience, but again, what this means the future episodes is yet to be seen. This is something that I think Telltale really needs to focus on more, especially with Guardians of the Galaxy (so far) focusing so strongly on character growth and interaction, with choice vs consequence seemingly left trailing behind. Nevertheless, it’s far too early to pull out the pitchforks at the moment, but as the season unfolds, this is certainly something I will be keeping an eye on.
Whereas the first season of Minecraft Story Mode concentrated on the story of the Wither Storm and the New Order of the Stone, season two begins with the aftermath, and it’s admittedly quite drawn out. Jesse and friends, the main stars of the first season, are now understandably classed as heroes. Jesse now lives in Beacon Town, and his/her friendship with the rest of the group seems to have all but run its course due to them having all somewhat gone their separate ways.
It’s immediately apparent that Jesse is the talk of the town, and through a large event that’s taking place in the town, Jesse is constantly pulled over by townsfolk to judge their blocky builds. Much like the final additional three episodes of the first season, you’ll witness the appearance of some high profile YouTubers such as StampyCat. It’s a nice touch, and something I am certain will please the younger fans of the source material. As already alluded to, the opening episode really does start out quite slow, and the constant trekking around town feels like a watered down attempt to stretch out the length of the episode, which was one of the universal complaints of the episodes from season one. Eventually you’re introduced to a fresh face that goes by the name of Jack, and if Telltale know what’s good for them, they’ll ensure that Jack features more predominantly throughout the course of season two. He’s easily one of the most fun loving characters that the entire series has offered so far, so much so that I dare say he rivals Jesse.
Before long, Jesse stumbles upon a gauntlet that’s calling to him/her, and what follows is the start of your new journey in season two. A massive opening appears in town and throws out a heap of creepers that threaten the safety of Beacon Town, and like Batman to a beam signal, Jesse is on the ball and ready to dive into action. One thing I think is important to point out is that Telltale have always been mindful that a continuation season may be a first time for some players. Telltale have crafted Hero in Residence in such a way that it’s inviting for returning players and newcomers alike, so you really don’t need to go back to get caught up with the plot, if you never had the chance to play it.
Hero in Residence is absolutely chock-full of QTE (Quick Time Events) in which you’ll need to quickly button mash the correct sequence that appears on-screen, during a cutscene. This ranges from dodging attacks from enemies, to being chased by pesky spiders. They’re not at all challenging and offer plenty of time to react, which I can only assume is to cater for the younger audience that may not have enjoyed this long running feature elsewhere. In any case it’s a welcoming addition, if not something that’s new to the formula.
It’s always been hard to talk about or directly judge a Telltale game without giving too much away. What I will say is that Hero in Residence does a great job when it comes to character growth, and I was often pleased, and even amused, with the chatter between Jesse and Petra. The dynamics here are only matched by another new character known as Stella, the mayor of Champion City. She’s a bitter woman who greatly dislikes Jesse, and although we don’t get to see that much of her, she’s well voiced and offers up some memorable moments that tend to stick out. All in all, the story unfolds quite nicely despite the slow start, and the conclusion is one that has me eagerly awaiting episode two. It takes roughly two – two and a half hours to complete, which is a huge step up from the 60 minute episodes in season one. Let’s hope Telltale can keep the longevity of future episodes at around the same mark.
Season Two pulls in a new feature known as Crowd Play, which allows people watching the game to make choices, though as the host, it’s your decision to rest with your own choice, or fall inline with the rest of those participating. It’s a decent mechanic that I suspect many will take advantage, but hardly something I would class as a game changer. Outside of this, everything as far as gameplay is concerned, remains the same with what you would expect from Telltale. There are critical story choices, dialogue choices, and puzzles, albeit much like the QTE the puzzles are fairly straight forward and simple to digest. Interestingly, when you do make a critical story choice, you’re greeted with a message that reads “Your Story is Changing”, but after playing so many Telltale games prior to Minecraft Story Mode Season Two, I take this with a pinch of salt, seeing as I’ve never really seen much come of it beforehand. Will this change for season two? Time will tell.
Much like season one, the voice acting is top notch. I couldn’t fault a single character, or more specifically, the talent that brings them to life. The same can be said about the visuals, with episode one taking you through a decent collection of locations and scenery to enjoy, all of which have that classic Telltale touch, whilst not side-stepping too far from the core identity of the series. One thing I was pleasantly surprised by was how smoothly Hero in Residence runs. Yes, I know that this is hardly a game that’s taxing on the hardware, but unlike the recently released Guardians of the Galaxy, frame-rates and stuttering are not present here.
Minecraft Story Mode Season Two Episode One – Hero in Residence is not something that I feel did much to improve or build upon the first season, but it’s nevertheless one that’s well set, despite the slow start. The dialogue and the voice acting is top notch, and really compliments the theme of the game (and story) magnificently. The length of episode one is a huge step up from what season one had to offer, and this is something that Telltale really needs to ensure is maintained throughout the rest of the season, given that short episode length was a universal complaint of the previous season. I’m not entirely convinced that the critical story choices are going to change up the plot to any notable degree, and in episode one alone, I couldn’t help but feel as though maybe ‘critical’ is too strong of a word to use. In any case, we’ll see how this feature plays out as time goes by and more episodes are released. This is, however, a decent opening to what (I hope) could be a compelling adventure, but it’s not an episode that particularly surprised me in regards to how it functions.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.