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Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: The Last Place You Look

Nov 24 // Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: The Last Place You Look (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: November 24, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit After having found Ellegaard the redstone engineer and Magnus the griefer in the previous episode, the gang needed only to locate Soren the architect for the full original Order of the Stone to be accounted for. The journey to find Soren takes the party to some peculiar locations, most located in The End. However, since Soren is a master builder, the areas highlighted are more diverse than the typical darkness of The End. Between Soren's feats of engineering in the overworld and colorful constructions in The End, it's a nice nod to Minecraft proper players who are known to build some of the craziest things. Soren himself is a much more likable character than some of the other members of the Order of the Stone. Where Ellegaard and Magnus were basically insufferable (especially after they were brought together), Soren is quirky and at times genuinely funny. Voiced by John Hodgman, he's neurotic and paranoid, but still fun to be around. [embed]321869:61211:0[/embed] Overall, the quality of the writing has taken a half-step up from the previous two episodes. None of the jokes elicited any sustained belly laughs, but I did let out a few snorts and chuckles along the way. The Last Place You Look started up a running gag where Axel falls on top of Lukas repeatedly, which happens just enough to be comical without getting tired. Some of the seeds of drama sown in previous episodes have begun to sprout, and while it still maintains the kid-friendly narrative, it's finally beginning to feel like the events happening matter and Jesse has an important role to play. The greatest success of The Last Place You Look is that it allows the player to feel accomplished while still moving the narrative along. This is, after all, only the third episode in a five-episode season, so anybody who knows Telltale knows everything won't be resolved here. But even so, the climax of this episode feels like a high point for the team. Sure, they're not done with their mission, but they did something, at least. There's never really any downtime during this episode either. Though there are a few sections of walking around and talking or searching for clues, they all serve a purpose and generally lead to action sequences. The first action sequence in particular is probably the best so far in the series, melding the fantastic environments, a sense of danger, and the classic Telltale decision-making into a tight opening credit roll. One thing that might turn some off is the quiet lowering of the bar for success during the action sequences. Some of the quick-time events seem more demanding here than usual, but I noticed after I flubbed a button press or two, the resulting animation didn't seem to react accordingly. Perhaps it takes multiple failures in a single section to make a difference. More experimentation is necessary. As much as I may praise The Last Place You Look, it is with respect to the first two episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode. It definitely is an improvement, but an improvement from mediocrity is just okay. The comedy is slightly improved, but still doesn't hold a candle to that of Tales from the Borderlands. The characters are becoming easier to sympathize with, but they aren't are interesting as those from The Wolf Among Us. The drama is beginning to heat up, but it doesn't come close to what we saw in The Walking Dead. Perhaps it's unfair to compare Minecraft: Story Mode to Telltale's more adult-oriented series. This is built for a particular demographic, and it seems like it's really hitting with that audience. The Last Place You Look is more of the same -- and slightly better, if anything -- so those who have enjoyed the series thus far will be pleased to just keep on trucking. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Minecraft review photo
Looking up
Minecraft: Story Mode didn't impress me with its first two episodes. Aimed at young players and Minecraft super fans, its writing didn't have a whole lot going for it past its Saturday morning cartoon plot and series in-jokes...

Minecraft photo

Minecraft Pocket Edition and Windows 10 Edition finally have redstone

Make a computer in your phone
Nov 23
// Joe Parlock
Redstone is one of the most important things in Minecraft. It lets people build incredibly impressive things such as self-performing songs and fully-functioning computers. Seriously, the kind of stuff some people can do with ...
Minecraft: Story Mode photo
Minecraft: Story Mode

Minecraft: Story Mode keeps up its brisk schedule with Episode 3 out next week

The Last Place You Look
Nov 19
// Darren Nakamura
This minecart just keeps on a-rollin' (whether we care about it or not). After having met up with and then subsequently lost track of Ellegaard and Magnus in Assembly Required, the team is now searching out the fourth member ...
Minecraft Wii U photo
Minecraft Wii U

PEGI site lists Minecraft for Wii U

Super Enderman Maker
Nov 11
// Mike Cosimano
PEGI, also known as the Pan European Game Information (the video games rating board for most PAL territories), may have leaked a Minecraft port for the Wii U via its official website, apparently set for release tomorrow, Nove...

The Walking Dead photo
The Walking Dead

Telltale details assorted Walking Dead news

Plus a lil' Game of Thrones
Nov 10
// Mike Cosimano
Job Stauffer, Telltale Games' director of creative communications, recently dropped some news regarding some of its upcoming products, including The Walking Dead: Michonne.  Stauffer kicked off these mini-revea...

Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: Assembly Required

Nov 02 // Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: Assembly Required (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: October 27, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit The one big risk Telltale took with this episode was hinted at the end of The Order of the Stone. Depending on whether players choose to side with Olivia and seek out Ellegaard or to side with Axel and look for Magnus, the entire first act of the episode will play out totally differently. On the one hand, it's a bold step forward for Telltale, which is often criticized for touting its choice-based gameplay while delivering roughly the same story to everybody regardless of the decisions made. With the choice of Ellegaard vs. Magnus, the consequences were immediate and impactful, affecting a huge chunk of this episode. The final outcome might not be any different, but the journey certainly is. On the other hand, it provides for an experience uneven among players. The first half of the episode takes about 40 minutes to get through, and most people will only see one of the two segments. It stings a little because I chose to find Ellegaard, but was later led to believe that the Magnus section is the more entertaining of the two. If nothing else, it might convince me to start up a second save file just to see what I missed. [embed]318431:60938:0[/embed] Speaking of Ellegaard and Magnus, both characters are fairly unlikable. Ellegaard is haughty and aloof and Magnus is snide and combative. It creates a conflict between the two that might serve a narrative purpose in the future, but mostly just makes me wish I could have chosen neither of them right now. That turns out not to matter much, since both make an exit not long into the collective journey and bring the group back down to the core members again. Just when Story Mode threatens to feature a real, interesting human moment, the action leading to the episode's climax starts up, postponing the good stuff until a future episode. The cast continues to perform adequately. Each of the characters has his or her own distinct personality, and the actors deliver well enough. The writing is still falling flat for me. Things are happening, the narrative is progressing, but it's just not especially good yet. None of the jokes made me laugh. None of the drama made me think. After two episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode, I find myself struggling to care. It's a story and I am experiencing it, but that's the best I can muster. It's not bad enough that I'm dreading having to play three more episodes, but it's not good enough that I'm looking forward to it either. It could cease to exist and I would be utterly unfazed. There is some hope for the future of the series, as Assembly Required has planted some interesting seeds of what's to come, but it's not quite there yet. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Minecraft review photo
The story is building...
Telltale fans have grown accustomed to a two-to-four month wait between episodes. So when the studio surprise launched Assembly Required just two weeks after The Order of the Stone, it caught everybody off guard. Even though ...

Telltale photo

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 2 stealth launches today

Wow, that was fast
Oct 27
// Laura Kate Dale
[Update: While we were initially told by a Telltale staff member that the EU release of episode two was being held until Friday, it now appears the digital EU release date is in fact today.] In an unexpected surprise mov...
Halo 5 Minecraft photo
Halo 5 Minecraft

Halo 5 will be invading Minecraft soon

On Xbox
Oct 20
// Chris Carter
Microsoft is only just getting started with the over-saturation brand synergy aspect of Minecraft. On October 23, the Xbox 360 and Xbox One editions of the game will host more DLC in the form of Halo 5: Guardians skins. ...

Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: The Order of the Stone

Oct 13 // Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: The Order of the Stone (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: October 13, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit To its credit, Minecraft: Story Mode does a lot well. The use of Minecraft's engine and iconic visual style is a nice workaround to keep the Telltale Tool from showing its age. It's hard to complain about low-polygon models for a world comprised mostly of cubes. Despite having fewer moving parts to work with on the character models, the characters are as expressive as they need to be. By narrowing or widening eyes and tweaking eyebrows, the block people (and pig) can show a range of emotions in a cartoony sort of way. The voice work aids in bringing the low-fidelity characters to life as well. The cast is impressive, including the likes of Patton Oswalt, Billy West, and Paul Reubens, to name a few. Though the characters look similar in the beginning, each has a defined personality that comes through thanks to the actors. Much like a session with Minecraft proper, by the end of the episode my brain stopped seeing everything and everyone as a collection of hard-edged polyhedra and just accepted them as regular places and people. [embed]315133:60717:0[/embed] However, the all-star voice cast does highlight The Order of the Stone's biggest shortcoming. With such big names in comedy doing the dialogue, it's disappointing how little comedy there is in the script. There are a few gags that find their mark, but most are worth only a smile or a chuckle; none really stood out. On the other end of the spectrum, the drama doesn't really deliver either. The elements are there: life-or-death situations, uncertainty, mistrust. Still, none of the prototypical "big choices" felt like they carried much weight. Of the five choices shown at the end, the first is just a judgment call with an unknown and arbitrary outcome, two involve whether you want to be an asshole to a guy who doesn't deserve it, one won't have clear implications until a later episode, and the last is a decision on which of protagonist Jesse's two friends has a better plan for what's to come. The choices highlight an emphasis on the future. Put plainly, The Order of the Stone is heavy on exposition, setting up the backstory, characters, and events for the rest of the season. While necessary, it misses some opportunities to be memorable in its attempt to lay the foundation. Story Mode will probably be more of a hit among Minecraft fans than general Telltale fans. The Order of the Stone features a few Minecraft-specific gameplay bits and references. A couple times during the episode, players are presented with a problem, given some materials, and tasked with crafting a solution. Recipes are given for those who don't know what to make or how to make it, but other craftable objects are present as well. While trying to make a stone sword, I accidentally crafted a lever. After a playful rib about me not knowing what I was doing, the materials were returned so I could forge the weapon. Later on, the group has to hit a pressure plate beyond a hallway filled with arrow traps. Recipes and materials are given for a couple possible tools to use. It would be great if there were other hidden solutions to discover for those who know the source material inside and out. In addition to the crafting puzzles, there is one classic adventure game puzzle found toward the end of the episode. It isn't especially original or taxing, but along with the crafting it does represent a step in a more gameplay-oriented direction from the recent story-only Telltale series. So far, Minecraft: Story Mode is like a Saturday morning cartoon. Sure, there is conflict, but it doesn't feel dire. Sure, there are funny bits, but the comedy isn't sharp or intelligent. Sure, there is a story, but it doesn't feel like it matters yet. There is some hope for this series to be great in the future, but The Order of the Stone is just okay. The Minecraft-specific gameplay is a nice way to shake up the usual formula. The blank slate of the universe allows the tale to go wherever it wants. The voice cast is full of actors who can do great work. But the writing needs to be more engaging if Story Mode wants to be taken seriously among Telltale canon. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Minecraft review photo
Exposition mode
Telltale has seen ups and downs with its licensed titles. With Jurassic Park the studio was still figuring out what works and what doesn't. More recently, The Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands have shown the strengt...

Los Angeles tax Dodgers photo
Los Angeles tax Dodgers

Minecraft streamer buys $4.9 million mansion near Notch's

Hollywooooood...Hollywood swinging!
Oct 11
// Steven Hansen
It may pale in comparison to the $70 million mansion Notch outbid Jay-Z and Beyonce on (spending G's indeed), but YouTube video maker Jordan "CaptainSparklez" Maron just bought himself a $4.5 million house in the Hollywood Hi...
Minecraft photo

Minecraft Story Mode might open the door for Minecraft on Wii U

It uses the original engine
Oct 09
// Chris Carter
Minecraft: Story Mode is coming to basically every platform ever, as most Telltale games do, but this one is different -- according to an interview from Family Gamer TV it uses the actual Minecraft engine instead o...
Minecraft photo

Someone's porting Pokemon Red to Minecraft

Look at this nice wooden axe I made!
Oct 02
// Joe Parlock
I built a house in Minecraft once. It was the sweetest house you’ve ever seen, and it made everyone who knew me jealous. Through careful architecture and planning, I carefully stacked dirt block on top of dirt block, un...
Minecraft: Story Mode photo
Minecraft: Story Mode

Meet the cast of Minecraft: Story Mode with this trailer

'I'm a PC'
Oct 01
// Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode officially kicks off on October 13 with its first episode The Order of the Stone. Though we previewed it recently at PAX Prime, there haven't been any trailers for it since the teaser back in July. With ...
Minecraft x Oculus photo
Minecraft x Oculus

Minecraft is coming to Oculus Rift after all

Even if Notch thinks Facebook is creepy
Sep 24
// Kyle MacGregor
Today at Oculus Connect 2 in Los Angeles, company founder and Rift inventor Palmer Luckey announced Minecraft's Windows 10 Edition will support the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.  The move represents an about face ...
Minecraft photo

Minecraft: Story Mode releases digitally Oct. 13

Retail launch is October 27
Sep 16
// Jordan Devore
Telltale's episodic adventure series Minecraft: Story Mode begins October 13, 2015 with Episode 1: The Order of the Stone on Windows, Mac, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. It's then headed to Android and iOS on October 15, f...

Telltale's Minecraft: Story Mode is an interesting change of pace for the series

Sep 10 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]310121:60304:0[/embed] Taking place in the world, or worlds, of Minecraft, we take on the role of Jessie, a local resident living in the wilderness along with his friends and pet pig. With the upcoming event known as Endercon approaching, sort of an in-game take on the popular Minecon, Jessie and his friends prepare for the festivities along with the rest of their community. Unfortunately, an ancient evil known as the Ender Dragon is unearthed from the nether, and wreaks havoc across the land. With Jessie and his friends being the only ones to escape, it's up to them to restore the legendary Order of the Stone, a group of powerful adventurers capable of stopping the dragon, and save the rest of the world. While it may seem unusual to try and create a specific story and narrative with predefined characters within Minecraft, which is inherently about the relative and varied user experiences, Telltale's take on Story Mode is surprisingly charming. Sure, many of the jokes focus on Minecraft-related humor and trivia, which may confuse or fall flat for those who aren't too into the adventure game, but it does a pretty admirable job of finding itself within a game world that's so varied and almost infinitely diverse. With a pretty solid voice-cast featuring Patton Oswalt, Corey Feldman, Paul Reubens, Dave Fennoy, Martha Plimpton, Ashley Johnson, and Brian Posehn, this is likely Telltale's most star-studded cast yet. During the short segment I played, we find Jessie searching through the forest for his pet pig. Gameplay will be instantly be familiar to those who've played other Telltale titles, such as The Walking Dead or Fables. You'll explore the environment looking for clues, interact with other characters, and occasionally participate in action sequences that call for well-timed responses. When Jessie was ambushed by zombies, he had to defend himself with a hastily put together wooden sword, which broke during the encounter. Eventually, his friend Petra (voiced by Ashley Johnson) saves the day and they make their way back to town. Of course, this is only the start of their troubles. Essentially, this is a very family friendly take on Telltale's past titles. Easy enough to get into, but deep enough to wonder what choices will be the best in the long run. However, one of the more interesting aspects of Story Mode is that it allows players to customize the central character Jessie. From their aesthetics to even their gender (voiced by Patton Oswalt and Catherine Taber, respectively), players will be able to build their own story and show off their character however they see fit. Given the numbers of choices and turns the story presents, it's refreshing to be able to have more of a choice in how your character looks. I'm curious to see how this title will shape up. With the first episode coming this year, Minecraft: Story Mode has some big shoes to fill. While there are many fans who may turn their nose up at such a departure from what they know from Minecraft, the developers are seeking to make a narrative that not only rewards long-time fans with a long and eventful journey through series lore, but also serves as a great opener for those who haven't taken the plunge into the quirky and incredibly popular adventure title. And it's a promising start from what I played. 
Minecraft: Story Mode photo
The Creepers will remember that
Since its announcement last year, many fans of both Mojang's Minecraft and Telltale Games were caught off guard by this union of adventure developers. With one focusing on open-ended and procedurally generated jaunts thr...

Minecraft photo

Minecraft: Story Mode release date leaked?

'This item will be released on October 27, 2015'
Sep 07
// Vikki Blake
According to, Minecraft: Story Mode will release on October 27, 2015. Playing as Jesse, you'll "embark on a perilous adventure across the Overworld, through the Nether, to the End, and beyond. You and your friends ...
World Records photo
World Records

The world's biggest arcade machine can house an African elephant

Guinness shares the latest gaming records
Sep 04
// Vikki Blake
Edit: Can't get the images to display for some reason - sorry! :( Have removed them for now, but will pop them back in as soon as I can.  The latest edition of Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition shares a heap of new ...
Minecraft Wii U photo
Minecraft Wii U

Minecraft: Story Mode headed to Wii U, too

It's something
Aug 26
// Jordan Devore
Telltale Games supporting Wii U? A Minecraft title on a Nintendo console? What's going on? The studio is bringing its upcoming Minecraft: Story Mode to Wii U this fall, according to The Verge. The episodic adventure series is...
Minecraft photo

Minecraft 1.9 is coming to cut your head off in The Combat Update, first snapshot released

Hope they take a good look at Terraria
Jul 30
// Joe Parlock
When not diving into their Scrooge McDuck-style pools of money, the folks over at Mojang have announced they’re working on Minecraft 1.9, dubbed The Combat Update. Three guesses as to what it’s going to be about. ...
Bestsellers photo

Mortal Kombat X is the best-selling game of 2015 so far

We're half way through 2015 already
Jul 27
// Joe Parlock
We’re now half-way through 2015. As time marches ever onward, quicker and quicker towards the screaming oblivion that is our graves, we shall hear that bell will soon ring and we will be taken into the void by the reape...
Minecraft photo

Rob McElhenney of It's Always Sunny to direct Minecraft movie

Wait, what?!
Jul 21
// Jordan Devore
Warner Bros. and Minecraft developer Mojang have selected Rob McElhenney (Ronald "Mac" McDonald from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as the director of their upcoming Minecraft film. "Hey Mojang let's do something strange and wonderful," McElhenney said on Twitter. As a long-time fan of Sunny, this is pretty great. I'm now genuinely curious about the project.
Trove photo

Trove, a Minecraft-like MMO, is out today from Trion Worlds

I think kids will dig this
Jul 09
// Chris Carter
I know it's tough to see "MMO" and "Minecraft clone" and not roll your eyes, but bear with me here. Trion World's free-to-play Trove is out today, and I gave it a spin this morning to see what it could do -- p...
Minecon photo

Minecon 2015 was the biggest single-game dedicated convention ever

10,000 people attended
Jul 07
// Joe Parlock
Did you go to Minecon in London this weekend? Did you take literally everyone you know with you? Well congratulations, in doing so, you and everyone else have broken a world record! According to Guinness World Records, Mineco...
Minecraft photo

If you own Minecraft, you get it free on Windows 10

$10 otherwise
Jul 06
// Chris Carter
Because Minecraft doesn't have enough fragmentation already, Mojang has just announced that there will now be a "Windows 10 Edition" of the game that you can buy later this year. If you already own the PC version of Mine...
Minecraft photo

Minecraft's largest piece of artwork seems impossibly detailed

World record holder
Jun 23
// Brett Makedonski
A lot of people make a lot of impressive things in Minecraft, but none of them go as big as Thorlar Thorlarian. That's not hyperbole, by the way; he actually has the world record to back it up. Recently, Thorlar finished a p...
Minecraft Hololens photo
Minecraft Hololens

Wow, Minecraft on Microsoft's HoloLens looks hot

The power of Microsoft money
Jun 15
// Darren Nakamura
We have seen snippets of Minecraft on HoloLens in the past, but at Microsoft's E3 press conference today, a couple of presenters showed off something that had us putting up the respect knuckles. With a special camera showing ...
Mojang photo


That's how you pronounce it?
Jun 15
// Jordan Devore
Bombshells dropped at the Minecraft HoloLens demo during Microsoft's E3 2015 presser.
Splatoon in Minecraft photo
Splatoon in Minecraft

Minecraft player recreates Splatoon spectacularly

With squids and everything
Jun 07
// Kyle MacGregor
Minecraft player SethBling doesn't own a Wii U, but apparently was so enamored with Nintendo's new shooter that he recreated Splatoon with a custom map in Mojang's popular sandbox game. Aside from a few differe...
Minecraft photo

All Mojang staff were offered $300K not to leave company

Please stay with us at Microsoft
Jun 04
// Laura Kate Dale
Thanks to an excerpt from a new Minecraft book published on Wired, we're finally starting to get a bit of an inside look at what happened at Mojang when Microsoft was in the process of purchasing the company.  Perhaps th...

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