‘Get out of here you WALKING CARPET’.
***WARNING: Spoilers follow for Episodes 1, 2 and 3 of Minecraft Story Mode Season Two***
Before we begin, I want to give a shout out to TellTale for their opening title sequence in Beyond the Bedrock, which had a nice cross of British mod rock and Scooby Doo influences. It was the first moment of this entire season where I laughed out loud, and had me excited to carry on. Just terrific.
Now then, the previous episode of Minecraft Story Mode was terrible. It was unnecessarily dark and terribly dull. I have struggled to get invested in the story this time around due to the characters being written as if they were only trying to appeal to a group of four year olds huddled around an iPad. I said this before and I’ll say it again; I’m aware, at 31, that I’m not the demographic for Minecraft Story Mode. It’s very much not meant for me, and whilst I have reviewed this entire season up to now, and really quite enjoyed SM Season One, there’s no getting around the fact that I haven’t found much enjoyment in, well anything yet (bar the killer opening title sequence, as mentioned above).
Here was my closing paragraph for my review of Episode 3;
There’s an interesting choice near the end which could see some major ramifications between the group moving forward, and a strong final ‘boss’ sequence was entertaining and visually, finally brought a bit of excitement to proceedings, but it wasn’t enough to save whatever the previous 80 minutes were before it. The story progression was next to none and the location was really dull, making Jailhouse Block a huge misfire.
I stand by this going into Episode 4, and whilst it’s definitely an improvement, Beyond the Bedrock hasn’t got me excited for the upcoming finale, and for a TellTale game, that’s definitely a worry.
‘Don’t worry about it…we’ll avenge..avenge your bed’.
The ending of Ep 3 did pave the way for an interesting move into a new world, and tearing through the bedrock reveals another new world for our adventurers to explore, and isn’t the most inspiring place to be stuck (again). Whilst I always admire the building of these new environments and buildings, the bleakness of it all takes away the appreciation. It’s not the first underground cave-like area we’ve visited in the season, I can only hope it’s the last.
It’s not long until the gang discover a giant Enderman that has taken a particular interest in Jesse and his crew and seemingly has no issue with tearing up the world around them in order to have them under his massive arm that’s swinging perilously nearby. This sequence is a prologue before that cracker of a title sequence. What follows is the first combat section of the game and once again, the mechanics still feel a bit off. Whilst we have a bit more movement for Jesse in these moments it still feels like you have less power than you should and can’t seem to react in time before spiders start jumping at your face. It would probably be wise to scrap them completely and keep the combat sequences to QTE rather than trying to mesh the two together and after the other. And though we’re in a new environment we still have to deal with the same old monsters.
There’s a sequence which follows this where we meet a gang of new characters who could be the most annoying in gaming so far this year. With their high-pitched voices that sound like nails on a chalkboard to me, they enter in a moment of genuine peril and the first big decision of the episode. Let’s just say I didn’t feel much of a connection to an involved character and er, yeah. It was written well though, and it brought up those TellTale feels, the same ones you should feel playing through one of their episodes, genuine dread and not knowing whats on the other side of a choice. Could it work for you? Will it? There’s only one way to find out.
‘anyway, long story short, I became a ninja…’
Another brand new area is discovered in Beyond the Bedrock, and thankfully it wasn’t another underground mine, rather a small town deep under the ground that has been keeping itself safe from monsters for a long time. Here you need to gather clues by taking part in a trivia competition – no, really -, the answers you’ll find scattered around the town the more you talk to the inhabitants. This moment was all a bit L.A. Noire but worked well enough, and I got to meet a blocky doggo who I could play fetch with, so the game as a whole gets extra points for that inclusion. Bravo.
I wanted to give a mention to the emotional beats in Below the Bedrock, which hit me pretty hard throughout. The relationship building between Jesse and Petra has always been one of the series’ highlights, and a sequence where they just let it all out to each other was terrific, and the best use of the characters so far this season. It felt necessary and elevated this episode in the emotional stakes, thanks to a Ellie-esque monologue from Ashley Johnson.
I’m delighted that Beyond the Bedrock brought back that emotional arc the previous three episodes were missing. It seemed to fly by and that’s the first time I’ve said that about an episode this season. Whilst there weren’t a huge amount of big choices to be made – though one near the end was rather harrowing – and the story hasn’t moved on significantly, the episode sets up the finale strongly with a neat post-credits scene. I hope that the final episode lives up to this standard, because this has been far and away the best of the season so far.
Minecraft Story Mode Season Two Episode 4 ‘Beyond the Bedrock’ is available now on Xbox One, PS4 (reviewed), iOS, Android, PC
Developer: TellTale Games
Publisher: TellTale Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.