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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Minecraft: Story Mode E3: The Last Place You Look


Minecraft: Story Mode
Episode 3
The Last Place You Look.



As is always the case with Telltale Games' games, I am rapidly running out of things to say about these episodes. It's not that they're not enjoyable, either - I am, actually, having a positive whale of a time playing them (precisely how much of a positive whale can be seen here, in my Let's Play series), but the nature of Telltale Games' work means that I can never really talk about a gameplay. What's the gameplay like? Why it is identical to every other game they've released since The Walking Dead, but I'm glad you asked, old chum.

In this episode, Jesse and the team find their way through Soren's fortress to a portal to the End, where they find that Soren has set up a strange research facility where he's trying to teach Endermen how to build. After a daring ruse to catch Soren's attention, things go from bad to worse, as the team must flee a horde of Endermen - right into the path of the Witherstorm, now even more massive than it was before.

This might end up being a shorter review than usual, just because I'm not sure what to say. This episode was, in every respect, standard - enjoyable, certainly, but in a way I've already talked about in depth before. The biggest new additions, one supposes, were the introduction of The End, the appearance of Soren, and the 'final' showdown with the Witherstorm.

Same, Lukas.

The End is kind of under-used, if I'm being honest. The characters don't spend much time outside there before they head into Soren's facility, including his giant wool sphere, so the entire thing more or less passed me by without provoking any kind of reaction from me, and that's a shame: The End is one of the creepiest places in Minecraft, and it would have been nice to see a bit more of it. In fairness to the developers, it is also quite a bare and barren place, limiting the possibilities of what can be done with it a touch, but nevertheless.

Soren, meanwhile, is an absolute joy. He's mild-mannered, genial, has a few noticeable sharp edges, and in general seems to have gone slightly strange from spending however long with no human contact and only Endermen for company. You have different conversation options where you can tell him that Ellegaard or Magnus is still his friend, and he'll react with total delight - and, if you choose to take one of their armours later on, you will have set yourself up for a very tragic scene in which Soren wishes to them that he knew earlier that they still considered him a friend.

Which is what I did, incidentally. Not intentionally, although I admit, I had an inkling that whoever's armour I took would die. Come to think of it, I really should have taken Magnus' armour, I do not like that guy.

Harsh.

Soren also fits with the theme of the series so far, which is that the Order aren't nearly the infallible heroes they've been made out to be (and that's not even taking into account all of the fishy business with Ivor) - they have egos, they have crippling self-confidence issues, they have their own projects that they're obsessively focused on, et cetera, and that they may have mostly become heroes by muddling through a crisis as best they could. That, in turn, is clearly setting Jesse's own ragtag band (who are also nowhere near being infallible heroes) to become the next Order.

It's nowhere near a subtle theme, not even remotely, but then this isn't exactly a subtle series, so that's fine.

The showdown with the Witherstorm, meanwhile, is sudden but appropriately dramatic, and really enjoyable. There is a genuine sense of tension, even terror, throughout, and I actually felt worried for Jesse's safety. The aftermath, where the Witherstorm reforms (now into three one-headed storms, as opposed to one three-headed ones) was not wholly unexpected - there's two episodes to go, after all, although I actually sort of expected the Ender Dragon to rise out of the Witherstorm's corpse - but was a nice moment nevertheless. It also hammers in something that's been foreshadowed since the first episode: There is something not right about Ivor's command block.

Jesse, we know you can't die, you're the protagonist.

Remember, Ivor had tested it. He says as much, saying that the Wither not obeying him, and the whole thing where it became a Witherstorm, didn't happen in any of his tests. Which is not even getting started on how Ellegaard's big project was creating a command block, something that had apparently never been done before, but Ivor - whose hat isn't redstone engineering, but actually seems to be alchemy - had one anyway. Add on to that that the command block wasn't destroyed by the Formidi-Bomb (yes, very clever pun, guys, ugh) even though it was supposed to be, and you've got foreshadowing for something very odd afoot.

Hopefully they can follow through on that foreshadowing. In keeping with Telltale Games' rather rapid fire release of these episodes, the next episode is expected to come out in late December, so I will be Let's Playing and reviewing that then.

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