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Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: Order Up!

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Back on the block

As the old saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. That might have happened with Minecraft: Story Mode. The first four episodes of the season released within two and a half months of one another, and I had been pretty lukewarm on them. Nothing was especially bad, but it seemed like Telltale was just checking boxes toward its mediocre production.

Objectively, Order Up! isn't a whole lot different from the previous episodes. It has one thing going for it that the others didn't: it's self-contained. Even so, I found myself enjoying this final installment more than the others, and I suspect it's largely because of the three-month break since Episode Four.

Minecraft: Story Mode: Order Up! (Android, iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Released: March 29, 2016
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 previous episode wrapped up the Wither Storm saga that began in the first episode, allowing Telltale to take Story Mode anywhere it wants. With that freedom, it's going in a slightly different direction than it usually does. With the recent announcement of three more episodes coming this summer, each will be its own story.

Order Up! starts the new model off, having a clear beginning, middle, and end. There's a concrete conflict and a defined resolution. And then it sets up for an unending stream of two-hour adventures for Jesse and the gang to go on.

And you know what? It works. Story Mode has always maintained a tone similar to old superhero cartoons -- there are serious problems to overcome, but there's never really any doubt the good guys will win in the end, and they even take the time out to crack jokes and have fun. It's a natural fit to condense all that down so the team ends up essentially back where it started in one episode, but with another notch on its belt.

One strength Story Mode has exhibited throughout its run has been in its fantastic locations. Many were taken from the official Minecraft lore, like the Nether and the End, but the best were the Telltale creations like Soren's fake world made of wool. Order Up! spends most of its time in a new place, a small chunk of earth floating above an endless void.

Jesse's travels to this city introduce an interesting idea to the universe: what if there were scarcity? Without an infinite land full of resources available, how would the people of the world live and govern themselves? Naturally, Jesse's bountiful background gets him into trouble in this new land.

It brings up what might be the first thought-provoking choice in the series. Rather than the obvious "good vs. evil" or the now-standard "pick which of these two terrible things you would dislike the least" decisions, it presents two philosophies, neither of which is necessarily bad or good. And perhaps the best lesson (though some may consider it a copout) is that compromise between the two is possible.

Aside from the self-contained story arc in a new land, Minecraft: Story Mode: Order Up! serves up exactly what is expected. There are some chuckles here and there, there are some heartfelt moments, and there are a few quick-time events. Pleasantly, there aren't many cringeworthy jokes that miss their marks; there just aren't any outstanding lines either.

It's business as usual in terms of the moment-to-moment happenings, but it benefits from the altered structure that eschews multi-episode arcs in favor of singular experiences. For the first time in the series, I'm looking forward to continuing onward, if only a little.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]


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Minecraft: Story Mode: Order Up reviewed by Darren Nakamura

6

ALL RIGHT

Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy it a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.
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Darren Nakamura
Darren NakamuraAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011. While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strateg... more + disclosures


 



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