Within two weeks Telltale has given us two episodes back to back, while fans of Game of Thrones still have to wait for their finale. The thing is, does releasing episodes early finally give Telltale the reason to make them good? Unlikely so it seems.
Episode 2: Assembly Required
Developers: Telltale Games, Mojang
Publishers: Telltale Games, Mojang
Platforms: PC, PS4/PS3/PS Vita, Xbox 360/Xbox One, Wii U, Android/iOS/Fire OS
Release Date: October 27th 2015
As I've said in my Episode 1: The Order Of the Stone review, I went in with low expectations but actually enjoyed the game despite some inconsistencies. While characters ultimately either weren't fleshed out or too generic for their own good, the episode had some fun moments and some heart too, making it enjoyable.
Since the criticism for Telltale’s extremely long wait in between episodes became a regular occurrence, they did drop the bomb on us with the Assembly Required, the follow up to the first episode. And to be honest, it's more disappointing and worse than what we've seen from the first episode.
Telltale has been notorious for making us wait for a few months before releasing episodes. Tales from the Borderlands, The Wolf Among Us and now Game of Thrones came under that shudder, and people either stopped caring or found other enjoyment in other experiences. That helped people get into Life is Strange, of which the finale released last week was a little divisive between fans. Still, at least the game was consistent between the wait for episodes, and in this case, with Telltale releasing Minecraft: Story Mode so early felt as if they've finished working on it but was just making us wait. Did it deliver the goods though?
No. Some problems that were exposed in episode 1 were enlarged and magnified in Assembly Required. Not only is it short in length, but it is also short on character development, interactions, events, humour and plot movement. Nothing really happens that affects the game drastically and characters we stick with for around an hour are either dull, uninteresting or just simply lacked the voice-acting thrust to make their conversations work. I went with Olivia to find Ellegard, the genius and creator, but found myself being bored for the 20 - 30 minutes enduring the road to getting to her.
While Jesse, played by Patton Oswalt, was serviceable at best, the rest of the cast felt insignificant and promised nothing. It seemed that the game was oblivious in pushing the plot forward but instead as the episode ends, it felt like the episode could've been part of the first one. It's not only being disinterested in what it's trying to do, but it's not trying to do anything at all. The episode was filler, biding time for the next one so people wouldn't complain as much. The problem? This was lackluster in every possible way.
Reuben, Jesse’s pet pig, does offer some heart on the little adventure and I did enjoy the company. However as the episode raises little to no stakes from the first one apart from the same revelation we've seen, there's nothing really driving the story forward now. What questions we had from the first episode is not only unanswered, but now we're loaded with more questions. Not to mention that the cliffhanger that the episode ends on is less than subtle and stellar.
While the episode doesn't impress, it isn't bad as well. For a Telltale episode, it's pretty decent for it's worth. There are many references to the original game that the title takes on, and mazing through them was fun. However the onus still remains that Minecraft: Story Mode might just be for kids. But will they enjoy the less than subtle hammer that is the “F-Bomb”? Come on Telltale. With Minecraft’s audience geared towards the little ones, maybe that's not the best way to introduce yourself to them.
All in all, the episode is all bright lights and no stars. It fails to add any tension and buildup, is way too short, sloppy and is probably Telltale’s worst episode yet. This is disappointment at its best.
'Your journey ends here', states the Traveler's splash screen. And yes, while another series ends and wraps up, Tales does it in spectacular fashion, one that might even succeed beyond that of The Walking Dead Season 1's acclaim. Let's cut through everything because this finale is an epic power-house of emotions, one that everyone must experience.
Right! Before the finale for Tales comes in under 8 hours, let's review the penultimate episode: Escape Plan Bravo! And considering previous pre-final episodes by Telltale, you should've probably seen it coming. The game, of course.
To say I was eagerly anticipating the first episode of a series from Telltale on a Minecraft property is pulling it a stretch thin. The game has the same troupes and dance as previous titles from the acclaimed adventure-narrative game developers, but will it succeed with another spin on it?
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