I don’t think I’m alone in this, but when I finished playing Episode 4 of Minecraft: Story Mode I had the impression that the fifth episode was going to be the last entry in the series. It’s certainly true that Episode 4, which I reviewed last December, had an ending that didn’t need another chapter. I merely thought that this was going to be one final adventure for Jesse and the gang. So when it became apparent that the latest entry in the story is just the first chapter in a new storyline involving multiple Minecraft worlds, I found myself pleased with the idea of having more episodes to play. As I stated in my review of Episode 4, Minecraft: Story Mode has come a long way from its first episode. Episode 5: Order Up for better or worse continues to move the adventure forward into exciting new territory, but it seems that concerning glitches and bugs it still (after all this time) has some work to do.
When we last left our heroes at the end of the last episode, after the Witherstorm’s defeat and heroic sacrifices made, Jesse and his friends have become known as the New Order of The Stone. As Order Up begins, it’s clear that the New Order have been busy adventuring and collecting lots of treasure. With the help enemy turned friend (frenemy?), Ivor, they manage to discover a way to travel to another world in search of a treasure called “The Eversource”. This legendary artifact is said to provide endless materials from which anyone can use to build. Their universe’s creative mode if you will. However, things go south when former minor baddies the Ocelots; now known as the Blaze Rods under new management, cause all kinds of chaos in a new world where building and crafting are strictly controlled. Think the Lego Movie villains. What follows is Jesse, Lukas, Petra, and Ivor (note the mostly absent Olivia and Axel), attempting to save the day and find the Eversource. It’s a pleasant start to the saga, but its rushed nature means that any satisfying character development is largely thrown out the window.
It’s clear that Minecraft: Story Mode is taking a more “stand alone” approach (at least as I see it) with each episode a new adventure in a new world. The problem with this is that with each episode being only on average two hours long, it doesn’t take long to make these feel more like episodes of Quantum Leap than episodes of a larger Minecraft saga. There will most certainly be some larger plot about the reason for all these portals to different worlds, but chances are we won’t find that out until episode 8. In any case despite the minor issues I have with the plot, the larger technical issues are going to make or break the game for players.
To start, for a game that is very reliant on dialogue with the tried and true Telltale dialogue system, there were several moments where subtitles just did not match characters lines. Characters would say lines that were less than the text on the screen, longer than the text on the screen, or even an entirely different line. Someone messed up somewhere, either in the recording booth or the writer’s room because it is noticeable how poorly executed this aspect of the game was done. Then there’s the glitch that I experienced about two-thirds of the way through that messed up the camera so badly I had to restart the game to fix it. This isn’t the first time that a Minecraft: Story Mode game or a Telltale game for that matter has had technical issues. But the fact that it was so obvious this time around makes me wonder what passes for QA at Telltale. Ok, so maybe that’s a bit harsh.
In spite of the technical issues I had, I still had fun playing this newest episode of Minecraft: Story Mode. The prospect of new worlds and more adventures certainly has me looking forward to what else Telltale has in store for us. If they can just work out the technical kinks rather than rush out new episodes, then this storyline could be so much better than the first one.