Platforms PS4 / Xbox One / Windows / OS X / iOS / Android / Xbox 360 / PS3/ Vita / Wii U
Publisher Telltale Games Developers Telltale Games & Mojang
Genre Point and Click Adventure Platform Played Xbox One
Riding the success and critical reception of the third episode, the latest episode of Minecraft: Story Mode really continued to push a well thought out story combined with great, interesting and lengthy gameplay. A Block and A Hard Place does almost everything right, articulating the story and wrapping up an arching story line.
The fourth episode begins right after the massive events of The Last Place You Look and sees the group frantically scrambling without hesitation to flee the Wither Storm that is still alive despite the efforts of the group. The struggle is real and can be felt through the expressions of the other characters in the group. Without any plan or hope, even Jesse begins doubting if the group will be able to overcome their fears and defeat the Wither Monster. Ivor resurfaces after disappearing and finally realises the destruction his creation has caused. As the Wither Storm nears the group decides to split up and pursue an idea thought up by Ivor, to destroy the Wither Storm.
Axel and Magnus set off to Soren’s temple to draw the Wither Storm while the rest of the group flee to the far lands to find Ivor’s secret lab which is said to hold the key to destroying the Wither Monster. Lucas, a character that began as a mean adversary to Jesse and now a friend of his, decides to leave the group in order to find his old teammates which he believes are still alive after witnessing survivors from the Wither Monster.
What was particularly interesting in this episode is that we got to grasp the personal development that occurred in characters over the entire series. A great example of this is a sequence involving Ivor, while traveling to his secret lab we see Ivor stay back and fend off a witch attack while he begs the rest of the group to flee and save themselves, an almost heroic feat that completely mirrors the personality of the character we first saw in the initial episode who went to extreme lengths to destroy the Order of the Stone.
A favourable aspect of the entire series itself was that the game explored and gave the flat world of Minecraft a dynamic, filled history. In this episode in particular we were able to dig deeper into the Order of the Stone’s history through Soren’s storytelling. We hear of the adventures of the Order and how the members conquered and defeated some of the greatest adversaries in the world. We get a greater depth into the experiences that made these iconic characters what they are.
This episode featured some well thought-out puzzles, they were great in both difficulty and length and immersed the player in the game much more than previous episodes. An example of these puzzles was in a particular instance when a locked door had to be opened with a specific combination of items that the Order of the Stone had previously collected in its adventures. The player needs to figure out the specific combination by listening and deciphering the stories of the Order told by Soren, it takes some deducing to guess which order they need to be placed in, but it was very enjoyable as it perfectly tied story with gameplay.
Before the episode concludes we hear of a scandal from the Order’s past and hear of the consequences that come with the people involved, it really shakes up the group. The episode concludes with a massive battle between Jesse and the Wither Storm, we see the group reunite with each other and come to terms with being the heroes that will ultimately save the world. The battle sequence is lengthy and artistically unique, as we find Jesse plummeting through the Wither Storm’s body as he attempts to destroy the source controlling it. After a massive explosion, all is uncertain as we see both Jesse and his companion pig, Reuben, fall from the massive monster’s body.
After an unexpected twist and resulting aftermath, the episode concludes by showing us the group a week later, being hailed as the ‘New’ Order of the Stone, an idea that had been hinted since the series began.
A Block and a Hard Place can easily be awarded the best episode in the series. Riding off the critical success of the previous episode it got everything right including the substantial length, great quality overall, while also providing a fantastic conclusion to an overarching storyline. It included great dialog, depth of exploration and showcased the progression that occurred throughout the entire series time-span. A great example of progression is the group itself as we saw Jesse and the group evolve from ordinary people into brave heroes, ironically we saw the exact opposite occur with the ‘Order of the Stone’ where living legends were shown as being ordinary people with flaws and all.
The episode tied up the overarching story with the Wither Monster and left us yearning for more. It’s unknown where the final episode will take the group but hopefully we get to see them in a completely new and interesting environment with new and deep gameplay.
- Fantastic Progression of Characters.
- Well thought out puzzles.
- More history revealed to player, greater sense of world.
- Substantial Length and Quality.
- Few instances of stuttering, nothing major.