After the last episode’s lackluster reception, I’ll admit that it had me concerned for the quality of the next episodes. As I mentioned in my review of Episode 2, generally episodes of Telltale games are released on a quarterly or bimonthly basis. The release schedule for Minecraft Story Mode while a pleasant change of pace on one hand, increases the chances of bugs, rushed quality, and a general sense of an unfinished final product. But, I figured that perhaps episode 2 was a one time fluke, future chapters would be better overall. Well as it turns out Episode 3: “The Last Place You Look” is a return to form for Minecraft Story Mode, mostly.
Picking up right where episode 2 left off, Jesse and friends are still wandering through Soren’s workshop in an attempt to find him. On the way to find him, they encounter fantastic engineering marvels and once again begin to realize that not everything is at it seems. What they also find is that things are about to get worse, a lot worse. When I reviewed the first episode, I said that I was happy with the dark tone that they were taking with Story Mode, considering that the franchise is very kid friendly. But episode 3 cranks up the gloom and doom in comparison to the earlier episodes. Tensions are running high, patience is wearing thin, and while in other stories there might be some semblance of hope, there’s not much of that here either. Presumably things will be super cheery by episode 5, but for now I’ll just sit and wallow in the angst.
What’s immediately clear is that this episode feels more thought-out than the last one. The writing is sharper, the characters seem more fleshed out, and the amount of things to do in this episode in comparison to the last one feels more satisfying. However what doesn’t work so well is some of the character interactions. It seems like characters will love you one minute and hate you the next. An example of this would be a moment where Jesse makes the call save the amulet used to find Soren instead of supporting backing his friends who have a fight under their control. Another friend, Lucas, notices this and says Jesse is terrible for doing this and is not making the right decisions. Two seconds later I make Jesse take Lucas’ side on something, and he thinks I’m brilliant and have never led them astray. Not that there aren’t people who are easily swayed, but to me this feels sloppy. In a game that has some very significant decisions affecting the story, small things like this are a detriment to the overall experience.
In any case, Minecraft Story Mode appears like it’s back on track. Episodes four and five might derail that notion, but for now I’m excited to keep playing again, rather than be doubtful.