Minecraft Story Mode Season 2: Episode 2 doesn’t get the band back together, and I couldn’t be happier.
The first five minutes of Minecraft Story Mode Season 2’s second episode did not fill me with confidence. Ordinarily, pitching the player against a colossal, towering golem, as this episode does, would constitute a strong start. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that the game was merely recycling Season 1’s “big scary monster” arc. An intrusive and out-of-place cameo by YouTuber “Stampy Cat” also raised my hackles.
But I’m happy to report that Giant Consequences, to give this episode its formal subtitle, managed to counter my initial impressions. It’s also infinitely superior to Season 1’s second episode, which was two hours of unappealing filler. It’s a real roller-coaster ride that while still featuring the presence of a “big bad”, avoids being a mere retread of previous outings; nor does character development take a back seat to the action.
The bulk of the episode takes place in an imposing, icy edifice and intersperses nerve-wracking action scenes with puzzle and dialogue sections that give you more time to appreciate your predicament. And the episode’s central challenge, reminiscent of live-action Escape Room puzzles, is pleasingly taxing without ever being obtuse. The trials you, as lead character Jessie, are being put through are meant to sort the diamonds from the gravel (as the game puts it) and provide ample opportunities for interpersonal conflict.
Rather than reuniting you with former team-mates, this second episode lumps you in with characters who, with a couple of exceptions, are relative strangers. Not only does this underline Jessie’s loneliness – her old friends having since moved on – it makes many of the decisions you’re faced with far from clear cut. This significant change will give you real pause for thought, especially in light of the episode’s high stakes. You’d happily put your neck on the line for Petra, Jessie’s long time friend, but should you really give Jack a chance? Are you really going to entrust your mission to a “hero” who’s proven himself to be 90% bluster, no matter how badly he might want a shot at redemption?
Stella, Jessie’s alleged rival also puts in an appearance, though she’s a little one-dimensional and antagonistic compared to her portrayal in the last episode. Giant Consequences sports more than enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes, though I found one was telegraphed a little too heavily for it to be a complete surprise. As has become the norm for Telltale games, there’s a cliffhanger ending though the episode offers enough in the way of adventure that you won’t feel short changed.
Minecraft Story Mode Season 2: Episode 2 – Giant Consequences continues Telltale’s tradition of fine storytelling, and shows that they don’t need the relentless misery of The Walking Dead to construct a compelling narrative. It successfully picks up the pace and raises the ante without abandoning the themes of friendship, personal growth and responsibility that made the first episode such a great start to the season. Whether you’re a Minecraft fan or not, this well-woven tale of dilemmas and derring-do will have you on the edge of your oddly blocky seat.