I have spent a lot of time over the last year playing through the Minecraft Story Mode, which was originally a 5-part series with 3 further episodes announced. Last time in Episode 6: A Portal To Mystery we got an episode that was very much a standalone story, which saw the same characters we have grown to love over the series.
In Minecraft: Episode 7 ‘Access Denied’ the gang are once again trying to return home, but they venture off into a new world full of new challenges. This is the penultimate episode (of what has been announced) but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more further down the line, as the structure of the episodes works well and has the opportunity of leaving things open. Jesse, Ivor, Petra, and Lucas have been travelling through portals, with a murder mystery style episode last time, and the group this time ends up in an unusual world where something odd seems to of happened.
A mysterious AI computer system named PAMA is controlling everything and everyone in this world, trying to create a ‘perfect’ existence for everyone. The immediate comparison I made was with many science fiction narratives, like I-robot. Although it’s an idea that has been explored many times before it seems to work well within the Minecraft world and felt fresh. The AI computer has taken over the everything using mind-controlling technology and the gang of heroes must now put a stop to the takeover and save the inhabitants living in that world.
I really enjoyed the previous episode, with its murder mystery theme and this time I thought the sci-fi vibe worked well. Once again Telltale have managed to not only create an experience that’s enjoyable for kids but also adults. At this point in the series the characters have really developed and if you have played through the entire series its nice to see how each particular character has evolved and how relationships between characters have changed. This episode still stays true to the Minecraft world, with quirky humour and playful gameplay but it still has its darker and more serious moments, which helps give the episode weight and purpose. The series has improved as it has progressed and each episode feels more thoughtful and enjoyable to playthrough.
The game once again looks great and very much fits in with the other episode’s despite being a very different type of story. I personally think that these standalone style episodes work better than one long story spread over a series of episodes because they feel more compact, important and engaging.
The gameplay once again consists of lots of dialogue, with various choices to make and other action moments that include quick-time-events and fast-paced scenes that mix things up and keeps things fresh throughout. The series has also had its fair share of puzzle elements and once again there are some here and they feel really good. This time the puzzles are challenging but never intrusive or slow down the overall pace of the game. In the last episode we met a range of new characters and this time we do see a couple of new faces. The first is the oppressive AI known as PAMA and there’s also Harper, who is the only person not under mind control. I want to mention that the voice acting from all the characters is once again fantastic and I especially enjoyed the part Harper had to play in this episode.
I only had a couple of issues with the game but nothing too major. The game did stutter a little bit from time to time but in general it ran ok. I would have also liked to have seen a bit more variation to the gameplay, as we are now 7 episodes in and in general the gameplay has pretty much stayed the same and it could have tried something new. I also feel like the decisions you make don’t really impact the story and it would give the episode more replayability if the choices you made really did impact the narrative and relationships in the game.
The presentation is once again very good, with an interesting cast a lovable characters, a different style of story and new world to visit. The style of the game still has plenty of video game references and the humour is always fitting to the Minecraft franchise. I’m excited to see what the final episode has to offer and if the series will continue to develop from there. This is certainly worth playing as it does work as a standalone episode but I would still recommend going back and replaying the series if you haven’t tried it so far.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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