Below the Bedrock is the fourth episode of Minecraft Story Mode Season Two, and overall the twelfth Story Mode entry. For me, it’s run out of steam. The jokes aren’t landing and the plot isn’t moving. The best things about Episode 4 are the impressive locations and a well-executed large-scale action sequence, but that isn’t enough to overcome the drag that this season has become.
The entirety of Episode 4 takes place where the title suggests, Below the Bedrock. In Minecraft, the bottom of the world is marked by a layer called bedrock. You can’t dig any deeper than that layer. In Story Mode, however, it’s revealed that a whole other world exists beneath the known universe above. Turns out the original admins started with their creation, but ultimately walled it off with the bedrock. The setting makes for an interesting locale, but the plot never amounts to anything more than a filler episode. At least you can marvel at the cities and structures that have been constructed as backdrops for our band of heroes.
Jesse and company are just trying to get back to the overworld so they can confront the Admin. The story beats are predictable and there’s not any suspense to be found. Once again I found all of the major decision points to be easy calls, and that’s never a good thing for this genre of game. Without the agony of choosing between two or more equally compelling options, these games may as well just play themselves as movies.
Some story oddities are present in this underworld. Early on a group of mob disguise wearing people appear and demand your sword in order to help you up a cliff. You can hand it over or not. When I made my decision, these people just left and I never saw them again. Maybe going the other route involves these characters in the story, but they certainly seemed like they would have more importance than just being there for me to shrug off immediately. And on a personal level, I find it absurd that one recurring character, in particular, is still upset that I saved their life over an obnoxious animal, I think in Episode 2. It’s time the story moves past this.
This episode features the surprise return of a Season One character, but it was bizarrely handled. The character shows up out of nowhere, is now apparently a ninja, and left just as quickly. Maybe the brief appearance will play into the next episode, but this served little purpose to the Episode 4 story and could have easily been cut.
The action sequences are pretty good this time around. One large set piece has you dodging incoming fireballs while trying to lure a gigantic fire monster to step on pressure plates. The plates release water, which turns the flames into stone. It’s one of the grander sequences I can think of in terms of action in a Telltale game. Unfortunately, the player controlled combat that leads up to it is still a clunky mess and would be better as another quick time event.
A post credit teaser shows a character seemingly in grave danger, but does little to excite me for the finale. There’s nothing noteworthily great or poor in this episode, and throughout this entire series. It’s just kind of there. It’s hard to recommend this to anybody other than younger Minecraft fans who appreciate the Story Mode style. Any momentum built in Episode 2 has completely sputtered out, and with just the finale remaining, I don’t see how this series can be salvaged.