Telltale’s first episode of Minecraft: Story Mode, despite initially seeming like the oddest license the developer has ever taken on, managed to deliver many of the positive aspects players expect from their work. In a surprise move, the second episode, Assembly Required, has been released only two weeks after its predecessor, instead of the company’s normal two to three month wait.
It’s nice to not have to wait so long, though it’s worth keeping in mind that the launch schedule for the remaining three episodes remains unannounced. As for the overall quality of Assembly Required, while a good amount of the charm remains and the initial portion is more dependent on player choice than usual, it suffers from a sin that previous Telltale episodes have been guilty of, and that’s length. Instead of being two to three hours in length like its predecessor, this one clocks in at about an hour and a half. It does, however, play absolutely fine, and manages to introduce some interesting new facets.
The first act of this episode picks up directly following the choice players made at the end of the previous instalment, meaning that they will either go with good friend Olivia to find the legendary engineer Ellegaard or another good friend, Axel, to find the legendary griefer Magnus. This initial portion leads to very different situations and locations depending on that choice, and while the storyline seems to go back to a linear path afterwards (both the people you’re looking for end up in your group regardless), it’s still a step in the right direction for those who have complained about Telltale games not branching their plots enough.
The remainder of the episode consists of Jesse’s group traveling in search of the last member of the legendary Order of the Stone, a troubling reveal from one of the supporting characters, and a surprise showdown to finish things up. As always, numerous cutscenes, choice-based dialog for Jesse, and several action scenes relying on timed button presses are also contained within.
It’s all business as usual for a Telltale episode, but a big problem here is that it feels a little too by the numbers. None of the big choices really pack much of an impact this time around, and the sprinkles of humor found throughout the first episode are less frequent, making for an atmosphere that feels a bit too serious for something with Minecraft‘s art style. Certain plot elements also feel misguided, like how members of the Order can’t stop bickering with each other. It certainly seemed silly for them to focus on that, considering that a world-threatening menace is on the rampage.
The biggest issue I had with this episode, though, is one that individual episodes of The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead: Season Two suffered from, and that is the fact that the conclusion feels like an abrupt cutoff instead of the end of one plot thread that plants the seeds for another. There’s a fun little showdown that wraps things up, but things grind to a halt before it even feels finished, and the main plot thread of the last act feels like an afterthought in the last couple of minutes.
Still, the episode remains mostly enjoyable. There’s little in the way of puzzles outside of one early situation, the characters are still expressive and well-acted, and outside of the camera stuttering when showing large environments, technical performance is adequate. It’s just a shame that it couldn’t end up matching its predecessor in quality.
Minecraft: Story Mode still has three episodes to go before reaching its conclusion, and if Telltale can offer longer experiences with more memorable moments in them, it’s still capable of ending up being great overall. After all, the penultimate episode of The Wolf Among Us also suffered from a short length and abrupt ending, but the finale more than made up for it.
This review is based on the Xbox One version, which was provided to us.
The second episode of Telltale's Minecraft: Story Mode provides some decent fun, but a shorter length, abrupt conclusion, and less impactful moments cause it to pale when compared to its predecessor.