After a pretty fun and quite long Minecraft: Story Mode Season 1, Telltale returns to the world of Minecraft with Episode 1 of Season 2 [$4.99], and although it has some fun new ideas, I wasn't too crazy with the direction of the narrative and, especially, with the decision to add complex fighting sequences in a game that can barely handle simple swipes. I have to admit that I died more times in Hero in Residence than in pretty much any other Telltale game ever, and that wasn't because I'm not good at swiping at the right time. I had fun getting reunited with some of the characters from Season 1 and seeing how things have turned out after those events, but Hero in Residence didn't really impress me, and I'm hoping the rest of the episodes deliver a more coherent narrative and fewer action sequences.

Episode 1: Hero in Residence Review

Hero in Residence begins with the gang from Season 1 all famous and successful after saving the world from the Witherstorm, and Lukas is writing a book about all those adventures. While the story starts with everyone (other than Petra) together again, the gang quickly parts ways as each one goes their own way, leaving Jesse alone to head to the mines and find Petra. This is where the story of the first episode starts in earnest, and Jesse follows Petra deeper into the mines as they try to capture a cute llama. On the way there, Jesse bumps into the most important artifact of the season, a glove on top of a pyramid, and that glove whispers Jesse's name. And, of course, he can't resist putting it on. And then all hell pretty much breaks loose.

While the first season had a pretty straightforward narrative—with the whole gang fighting against the Witherstorm—Season 2 has a hard time find its narrative focus, at least in the first episode. The glove is at the center of the narrative, with the artifact leading Jesse, Petra, and others to a hidden ocean temple filled with enemies and dangers. However, there are some digressions that might be tying into later events in other episodes but end up hurting Hero in Residence's flow. I'm hoping all the strands come together more neatly in future episodes, but overall I felt Hero in Residence was a bit all over the place in terms of narrative and character development.

Visually, Hero in Residence is probably better than the Season 1 episodes, and the fact that you get to visit an ocean temple, which you don't do in Season 1, makes it visually distinct from what has come before. And I liked how falling water visually works like in Minecraft, which was a nice touch. I didn't encounter any visual glitches—like the infamous Batman ones—but I did encounter a few slowdowns in fast action scenes, and given that I have the latest iPad Pro, that wasn't very encouraging.

Speaking of the action scenes, Season 2 introduces a stamina bar that forces you to be much more careful when you take on mobs. In the previous season, you could swing away recklessly, but this time around you will end up panting and unable to swing if you just start swiping away at enemies. And you can even roll to the sides to engage enemies without taking damage. It all sounds fun, right? Well, the problem is that swipes don't always register and, more generally, Minecraft: Story Mode isn't Infinity Blade; the game engine wasn't made for these kinds of action scenes, and I ended up dying quite a few times during battle scenes. I wish the game focused more on narrative and puzzles (to a lesser degree) than on fighting because that aspect of it really didn't work well.

Overall, Hero in Residence didn't deliver the same kind of entertainment Season 1 did, and I'm hoping the rest of the episodes give us a stronger narrative and fewer fight scenes. Telltale games are at their strongest when they give us entertaining and challenging narratives rather than puzzle and fight scenes, so I'm hoping to see more of that kind of a Telltale game in the next episodes.

Rating:  3/5

 

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  • InTheAir

    After watching some gameplay of the action sequences in ep. 1, I'm surprised Telltale went Dark Souls on Minecraft of all things.

Minecraft: Story Mode - Season Two Reviewed by Tasos Lazarides on . Rating: 3