If I was surprised in the last episode about the way that Telltale was bringing in real-world elements of Minecraft and throwing them into the canon of the story, what with a chunk of that first episode dealing with a convention and all, Episode 2 takes it even further by introducing people as specific classes within the world. Namely, on my path, I ran into a town entirely run by griefers. People who just make life hell for others by blowing them up, playing pranks, generally being the kinds of people who would teabag you and steal your loot.
A lot of people will tell you what really matters for Telltale games is that they're about the interpersonal stories rather than the big world-ending threat and how our interactions with each other can affect our journeys in life, but the weird thing about Minecraft Story Mode is that there IS a big world ending threat, and it's already loose, so making episode 2 mostly about personal drama feels like it's just dragging its feet. It's an episode that basically has you running up to people and yelling at them "look over there a giant thing that's literally destroying the world and you need to kill it!" and they look at it and seem to go "you know what, I think I'd really rather bicker ineffectually."
Assembly Required is a slower episode that nonetheless moves rather quickly, starting with another roller coaster through the Nether, a fight with Magnus to get him to your side, then going on to pick up the last member of the Order you're missing, and it's over before you know it. I'm not actually certain how long this episode is, but it felt like it couldn't be longer than 90 minutes or so, more an episode to set the stage for further things – we end in a more interesting place, with more characters, even a couple of zombie movie tropes thrown in, leaving the stage for episode 3 to really take off and go somewhere interesting. We still have a lot to get into, like why the Order broke up, why Ivor is so mad, if there's even a way to defeat the Witherstorm. And we're just getting more stuff piled on at this point.
With the cost and economy that has to go into making these episodes and seasons, it's sort of weird to see an episode this early on feel, well, kind of wasted. It's not that the series is spinning its wheels, but with the speed at which we got through it, this second episode is just short. For example, when I got back from my trip to get Magnus to find Ophelia had already fetched the second Order member, it was actually a rather big surprise. It just cut out what could have been more to do in the game with a couple of lines. "Oh she's here now." Ok.
Which sort of leaves this chapter in an odd place to talk about. This is an episode 100% about payoff down the line, setting up more about how the team is on edge and barely held together and the way the world is being ripped apart. The stage was already set in episode one, it's just further set here. The stakes aren't higher or anything because where they'd been was already super high.
Episode 2 is just the bridge to take us to Episode 3, and until I play that it's really hard to give a full review to this one. These games are so serialized that it's only once they come together at the end that you can actually really appreciate them sometimes, and it's definitely the case here. I told myself I'd play through and review these in order, and it'll really be on the last episode that I'll give my views on how the full season went and really know how this one felt in. As of now it feels super rushed despite only being the second episode in the season. Hopefully it's not a harbinger of things to come.