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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Minecraft: Story Mode E8: A Journey's End?

Minecraft: Story Mode
Episode 8
A Journey's End?

Minecraft: Story Mode has brought us some magical moments -- like an obscene amount of genuine gaming news outlets not doing any research and writing articles about how it was an exciting new DLC for Minecraft; or its popularity plummeting after the Adventure Pass was announced; or the bizarrely long delay between episode four and episode five.

I've been pretty open about not liking the Adventure storyline -- the standalone stories didn't really work all that well, especially when coming after a pretty strong (well, at points, at least), and much more serialised arc. It didn't help that occasionally they felt rather pandering (looking at you, episode that inexplicably had famous Minecraft youtubers as the supporting cast), in quite a condescending way. I did, however, have some hope that the final episode would turn out good. It'd be a great opportunity to cap off the storyline, having a finale that tied into both the Adventure storyline and the Wither Storm storyline.

That's not what we got.

Continuing on immediately from the end of episode seven, A Journey's End? sees Jesse and company entering the world of the Old Builders, a place of deadly games where those who die are respawned and sent to work in the quartz mines. Offered both their freedom and the Atlas they need to find the portal to their own world, but only if they should win the games, Jesse and his team must unite the various teams against the Old Builders.

Jesse and some guy whose name I've already forgotten.

You know, I'm mostly just kind of offended at how little effort was put into this one's story. Episode seven at least was a slightly interesting take on the 'rogue AI' concept, and episode six, while gimmicky, at least had a clear idea of what it wanted to do. You can experience basically the same story as episode eight by going and watching half a dozen sports films. Or three sports films. Or one sports film and one The Hunger Games installment.


I could basically wrap this review up here, because I haven't been given anything else to talk about. It is a very standard, very generic plot which plays out exactly how you'd expect, and it feels less like a finale and more like another Quantum Leap-oid episodic adventure that just happens to end on the characters returning home. There's no gameplay or technical innovations talking about, and none of the new voice actors really stand out, so -- that's it, right? I can just take the rest of the evening off?

It's particularly odd, because at least episode six and episode seven made an attempt, however token, at innovating on the standard Telltale formula, with episode six giving you the opportunity to miss clues or fail to communicate them properly to lead to a different ending, and episode seven having a body swap mechanic that was at least cool on the surface, even if it mostly just amounted to a quick-time event.

Oh, yeah, Olivia and Axel return, as well.

A Journey's End, meanwhile, feels mostly like it was very quickly put together just to get it out of the way. It doesn't really tie in to the themes of the series at all, it's not very original, and even playing it felt more tiring than enjoyable.

No second series has currently been announced -- and likely we won't hear anything about one until Batman: The Telltale Series, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, and Game of Thrones Season 2 are out of the way -- but I do hope we get one, in large part because I'd like to see Telltale Games end this series on a more fitting note than 'just another random, unoriginal adventure story.' Time will tell if I get that wish, but in the meantime, I'm just kind of sad that the series ended on such a disappointing note.

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