The finale of Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two is upon us, so you can finally plow through the entire run in one sitting. That may be the more enjoyable route to take. If you’ve been keeping up with my Season Two reviews, you know by now I consider this string of episodes largely wasted potential. An intriguing setup, but not much to grab my interest as it progressed. Above and Beyond, the fifth and final episode of Season Two, did little to renew my faith in the series.

The big, inevitable showdown with the Admin was chock-full of callbacks to earlier events and was easily the most enjoyable sequence of both Episode 5 and Season Two. However, even that is rushed in an anticlimactic way. That ending got unexpectedly dark in my playthrough, but the episode’s approximately 80 minutes dealt very little with head to head confrontation that was being built-up all season, and more with repetitive planning and long goodbyes.

I was happy to not be presented with an open-ended build-what-you-want section in Above and Beyond. It was a nice touch the first time around, but proved to be nothing more than clock padding as it kept returning in other forms. Instead, this time around, extra time was squeezed out of the game through an arbitrary puzzle with no explanation or hint. You come across a wall of blocks and numbers, and have to enter the code you obtained in the previous episode, #Potato451. Typically, these puzzles will have some sort of useful feedback, either on-screen or through character dialogue, but not here. Just throw the blocks at the screen randomly until you align them in the way the game wants you to. I found it an insulting waste of time in a series that respects my time less and less as the episodes continue to release.

The sendoffs for the characters allowed me to make meaningful choices, and at this point, I hope I sent Jesse off into the sunset for good. Jesse and Petra, and to a lesser extent Lukas and Radar, have grown as characters despite nothing very interesting happening around them. Jesse, as the player, can decide what kind of life he wants to live, adventuring or managing a city. Petra finally embraces that she would rather live her life on the road for now, but acknowledges she may want to settle down in the future. Lukas and Radar are more ready than ever to take on leadership roles. Narratively this was a success, but the catalyst for these personal growths never ceased to be dull.

When I say the ball was dropped this season, I mean missed opportunities. Telltale setup a villain called The Admin, obviously referencing administrator level abilities in a Minecraft server. Ultimately what this amounted to was simply flight and teleporting. Both are difficult to combat, sure, but so much more could have been done to play this up. The villain could have banished people out of their homes (server ban), used time travel to roll back to the past (reloading a past state of the server), or made his own building indestructible (protecting specific structures in a server). All are things that admins can do in Minecraft that I think would have been interesting to play with narratively. Instead, we get a dumbed down version, in the vein of something like Harry Potter magic being effectively reduced to magic wand laser guns by the end of the movies.

There’s nothing especially memorable about Episode 5, or Season Two as a whole. I’d struggle to recount all of the forms the Admin took and it’s only been a few days since I played. While the main characters have matured from where they were at the start of the season, the story and action left much to be desired. I hope my final decision sent Jesse on a path to happiness. One that he can continue to live offscreen. Minecraft Story Mode is thirteen episodes deep, and there hasn’t been a strong overall story since the third episode in Season One. The only reason to keep the series going now would be the Siren’s call of that endless stash of money to be made off the Minecraft name.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Season Two, Episode Five: Above and Beyond was reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro using a review copy provided by Telltale Games


Publisher
Developer
Reviewed On
Release Date
Telltale Games
Telltale Games
PlayStation 4
December 19, 2017