Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2, Episode 1 – “Hero in Residence” Review
I turn 25 this month. I recognize Minecraft for the revolutionary product that it is, but it’s not the first or the even the fifteenth thing I boot up on my computer when I’m looking to kick back. I prefer my games to include decapitations over high fives. That being said, I may be changing my tune if Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 keeps up with the way it’s been heading so far in episode one, “Hero in Residence”.
That’s because the first episode of Telltale’s newest family-friendly epic tells a tightly-woven story that suits its universe perfectly. With new, enriching characters by his/her side, Jesse begins an adventure that calls the player ever-forward, regardless of their age. It does so by painting itself with that sense of exploration every one of us has felt when we first landed in that cube-tacular world that changed games forever. So far, it’s been quite the ride.
“the first episode of Telltale’s newest family-friendly epic tells a tightly-woven story that suits its universe perfectly.”
Story Mode Season 2 is a continuation of Season 1, but it provides new players with the option of jumping in without knowing much about Jesse’s previous tale. While Season 1 also stood on its own two feet in a lot of ways, they’ve moved on from that storyline. There’s a definite sense that time has passed. Jesse is back, of course, and Petra still plays a major part as well, but most of the old crew only show up for a cameo before departing for their well-earned positions around the Minecraft world. These voids are soon filled by several residents of Beacontown, the thriving settlement of like-minded creatives that Jesse helped form into what it is today.
Beacontown was first glimpsed in Season 1, but it’s center stage now. With houses shaped like octopuses and actual Minecraft Youtubers living within its walls, Beacontown is not only a great starting area for this new story, but it’s a testament to what Minecraft has become: a creative craze where any story can happen. The music that fills this town is fitting, like the acoustic tunes you’d hear in a tavern before heading out for more loot. In fact, the music was great the entire episode and I can’t wait to use it as ambiance for my own workspace.
While you can feel the beats of the story taking you into a deeper and darker place that inevitably kicks off this new adventure, it’s done so with a goofy grace that keeps you smiling, even as narrative boxes are being checked. It’s an adventure, after all, and they all usually start in the dark place that contains a glowing artifact and a llama wearing a scarf…right?
What follows is a compact, well-told fragment of a larger story that’s filled with simple puzzles and well-worn tropes. “Simple” and “well-worn” are words most should frown at, but here, in this world of cubes on top of more cubes, they fit just fine. Story Mode Season 2’s first episode concludes around a sense of brief closure before that inevitable, towering cliffhanger that shows us just where episode two is headed.
“In fact, the music was great the entire episode and I can’t wait to use it as ambiance for my own workspace.”
On its own, “Hero in Residence” is a story that could float independently, like an episode of Jonny Quest gone voxel. If anything, it’s too sweeping to feel like the first chapter in a larger story and that the ending cliffhanger was added just to connect the dots. It’s hard for me to say that’s a flaw, but you can only get such a condensed story if there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room with the characteristic choices that you make in the game.
Sure, there are still the reminders in the corner letting you know “So-and-so will remember that”, but my choices, whether they were to approach something differently or to raise my voice at someone, never felt like they were shifting the story in any way. Almost as if Telltale agrees with this sentiment, the choices that you make, including the final, “big” choice don’t feel significant in any way, or heavily one-sided at best.
This is just the first episode, so maybe those choices, including the ones that were touted to have a “significant change” to my story actually will in later episodes.
For now, I’m just enjoying what’s on the table. If you know what this game is, a story based in a world meant for all ages, then you will too. For the two hours it took me to complete, Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 is off to a grand start. I never thought I’d enjoy something that’s so outside of my gaming ballpark, but I genuinely can’t wait to see how the rest of Jesse’s second journey unfolds, even if it’s not heavily weighted by my decisions.
***A PC code was provided by the publisher***
- A great start to an unfolding story
- New characters and locations keep things
- Fantastic stage setting music
- Perfectly fitting of its universe
- Choices carried little-to-no weight
- Tacked-on cliffhanger