When Telltale Games started doing episodic games as their main distribution method, their games were released either all at once or on a monthly basis. With Telltale now its 11th year of developing games, their release structure seems to vary from game to game. Some titles have been released on a monthly basis, others on a bi-monthly or quarterly schedule. So when I played Minecraft Story Mode’s first episode earlier this month, I wasn’t expecting a new episode for at least another month. So imagine my surprise this week when Episode 2: Assembly Required was released no more than two weeks after the first episode. Great I thought to myself, Telltale has heard the cry of gamers bemoaning the unnecessary gap between episodes. The sad truth however is that while it’s great to see another episode for Minecraft Story Mode, I’d wished they waited longer and made a better game.
The episode continues right where the first episode left off, and I wish I could tell you more about the story. However based on the impact your decisions seem to be making, the game seems to be either going in very different directions for each player or ignoring certain choices all together. For example, there’s a choice in the first episode that results in Rueben, Jesse’s Pig, either getting a black eye or not getting one at all. In this episode regardless of that choice, Rueben will not have that black eye. What doesn’t make sense is that for a game that keeps track of some pretty story diverging choices, it would ignore such obvious details. Even with this complaint the story is still going in a very interesting direction for Minecraft. In fact by some definitions you could say that the story is getting dark, which is unusual for a franchise aimed at children.
But even a cool story can’t make up for its brevity. Most Telltale episodes are about 2 hours long. Assembly Required can be finished in under an hour. This raises several concerns, especially considering how buggy the second episode is. Dialogue is spoken from mouths that aren’t open, characters are cutoff while speaking, characters are suddenly shifted position from one scene to another, and the camera which in theory is fixed does some odd things as well. In a Telltale game buggy doesn’t just mean gameplay issues, but problems that you’d see on a film set. In the end, the game feels rushed and that’s not a good sign of what’s to come for the next episodes. It’s clear that maybe that gap we dislike so much is a necessary evil after all.
I’m hoping that this was just a fluke and that the future episode will both continue the intriguing story and be presented in a un-rushed, polished manner. As nice as it is to play episodes sooner, I don’t want to play something that feels cobbled together like this does.