Coming into the series blind except for knowledge of the game it’s based on, I’ve said before that I had very little in the form of expectations for Minecraft Story Mode. Not only has the story of Jesse and his friends completely shattered what minor expectations there were, but it has worked its way up near the top of my Telltale list. Season 2’s final episode, Above and Beyond, is a fantastic end to a downright fun series, and I am actually sad to see this one end.
Picking up as Jesse, Petra, and the rest of their rag tag crew make their way back to the surface, through the Heckmouth, from Romeo the Admin’s underworld, our heroes arrive just as Romeo, wearing a Jesse suit, puts the finishing touches on JesseCon. Even more worrisome than a festival designed purely for hero worship of their non-hero, Romeo has erected a floating tower at the center of Beacontown. In a great heist-like sequence, the friends must find a way up to the tower in hopes that they find “The Terminal” in which to use the password “#potato451” to rob Romeo of his powers.
If that sounds convoluted, it kinda is, but the story moves along at such a pace that it, at times, felt more like a small Ocean’s film. There are some excellent moments leading up to the final confrontation with Romeo, including a bit of hiding in plain site, as well as a bit of creative flight on Jesse’s part. The final confrontation itself is wonderful, and thanks to Romeo and his magic of creation, sends the group to many of the places they’ve seen throughout their adventure.
Story moments aside though, what really stands out are the excellent character moments. Numerous characters from earlier in the season find interesting ways to pop back up, making these chance meetings feel like more than fan service. It’s a thin line to walk, and only once, when Radar returns near the end of the episode, did I kind of laugh off the fact that no one in peril actually died through the series. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it keeps with the kid friendly dynamic the series has going for it, but the knowledge of that will change how I approach things in the future without a doubt. It’s certainly no Walking Dead, which is a good thing, but a little more permanence with choices wouldn’t be askance.
I was also a tad bit disappointed with Stella’s return. It felt rushed, like the scene would have benefitted from a tad more interaction between the two, given the importance of their “rivalry,” but it also ends with Stella learning both more about herself and about Jesse. Their final moments, involving Luna the Llama and her future, is sweet and earned, and while I felt I made the selfish choice, it was handled in a more adult way then I thought was possible.
Closing with the themes it opened with, friendship and how lives change even when we might not be ready for them too, my journey with Jesse felt like it ended how it should have, which is to say much like an episode of a saturday cartoon, where everyone learns their lesson, and the friends are just waiting for the next adventure to come up. Given the kind of depressing nature of the Telltale games in general, with there focus on heavy themes and character death, having one end on a genuine good note just feels lovely. The series earned its fun, and while portions felt a little overly long, especially in that first episode where pacing looked to be the series’s biggest challenge, looking back, I’m not upset by that. In fact, while I could do without the small building asides, the majority of the smaller, slower moments, where Jesse and friends got to be people and not just heroes in service of some narrative, were the most enjoyable, even when put up against some of the more outstanding set pieces.
With that said, I genuinely enjoyed my time with this series, and I hope to find the time to go back and revisit Season 1. It’s rare, especially for a Telltale series, for my first thought upon completion is “I hope they make another,” but I do. I loved Jesse and his friends, and Telltale has done what I thought was a waste of time in giving the world of Minecraft a narrative, and succeeded across the board. Kids or no kids, if you like the Telltale style of adventure game, Minecraft Story Mode: Season 2 is worth your time.
Reviewer and Editor for Darkstation by day, probably not the best superhero by night. I mean, look at that costume. EEK!