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Minecraft Story Mode Season 2: Episode 5 – Above and Beyond Review

Above and Beyond is a suitably thrilling conclusion to Season 2 of Minecraft Story Mode, but it fails to follow up on the season’s underlying themes.

The stakes are high in Minecraft Story Mode Season 2’s final episode. Masquerading as protagonist Jessie, the godlike Admin has taken control of Beacontown and has all manner of sinister plans up his all-powerful sleeve. Only Jessie and her friends can save the day, which sets the stage for a high-octane finale – and Above and Beyond delivers in spades.

Half heist, half action movie, the episode sports some insanely tense setpieces, particularly when you’re tasked with infiltrating the Admin’s fortress. Even though you know that the game’s events are chiefly scripted, it feels like you could be discovered at any moment before you can put an end to the Admin’s reign. And every time you duck behind a wall to avoid the Admin’s gaze you’ll be afraid that, next time you raise your head, you’ll see him staring right back at you.

That’s not to say that Above and Beyond is totally devoid of dialogue. There’s plenty of back-and-forth banter as the characters attempt – and fail – to hide their trepidation at taking on their evil overlord. Despite the fact that the last episode painted him as a semi-sympathetic character, there’s no way to talk the Admin down, nor do any of your previous choices have any major impact in this final episode. Still, the final confrontation with the Admin is such a dramatic (and cathartic) event that it’s understandable that Telltale didn’t want you skipping it.

Less understandable is why this final episode overlooks the themes that the rest of the season has explored. Aside from the growing threat of the Admin, previous episodes dealt with Jessie’s growing sense of isolation, her closest friends having moved on to pastures new. Above and Beyond, on the other hand, reunites her with these friends with little fanfare or mention of the awkward manner in which they parted. It also fails to really tackle Jessie’s growing responsibilities, and by the episode’s conclusion, it feels as if she’s barely developed a character.

Above and Beyond isn’t the best Minecraft Story Mode has to offer, but it’s nevertheless an appropriately action-packed conclusion to a strong season. It’s a shame that certain elements have been overlooked in this last episode, but as a whole, the second season of Minecraft Story Mode has been a worthwhile outing, especially for fans of the block-building franchise.

Minecraft Story Mode: Season 2 is available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. We reviewed the PS4 version.
Weekend Editor // Chris has been gaming since the days of the Acorn Electron, which was allegedly purchased to 'help him with his homework'. You can probably guess how well that went. He’ll tackle most genres – football titles aside – though he has a taste for games that that are post-apocalyptic, horror-oriented or thought provoking in nature.