After months of waiting, Telltale Games has finally gotten around to releasing more episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode content on Wii U. The question on everyone's mind, then, is whether or not it was worth the wait. Overall, the storytelling has some pacing issues and the performance sometimes isn't up to snuff, but it's ultimately a satisfying experience that many Minecraft fans won't want to miss out on.
Episodes 2-4 pick up right where episode 1 left off, with a Witherstorm being unleashed on the world and Jesse and the gang going on a quest to find all members of the Order of the Stone to restore peace. The plot progression is fairly predictable, falling back on common tropes and plot twists that can be seen coming from a mile away. Moreover, pacing issues occasionally arise when nothing of note happens for a significant portion of an episode; things tend to drag on.
That being said, these episodes tell a satisfying - if somewhat cliched - tale of underdogs finding the courage within themselves to embark on a journey to save the world. The characters are well written and lovable, and the conclusion to the tale is equal parts bitter and sweet. Telltale isn't afraid to introduce some decidedly dark elements to this otherwise light hearted story, but it creates some emotional depth that keeps you hooked.
Episode 5 tells an all-new story that acts as an epilogue of sorts to the ending of the Witherstorm arc. The gang are now accomplished adventurers and are in search of a Mcguffin known as the Eversource, a mysterious item that is said to supply an endless amount of rare materials. Their search brings them to the dystopian Sky City, a beautiful floating village where the local government outlaws the act of building things.
Though certain characters are mostly missing from this episode, it still does a good job of showing how the gang has matured since the ending of episode four, and how they're dealing with the events that take place there. It's nice to see an episode that tells a mostly self-contained story, too, though the ending is quite a cliffhanger. All around, it does a good job of expanding upon the foundation laid out by the first four episodes, and will hopefully be continued on Wii U in the near future (episode 6 has been confirmed for other platforms).
One point worth mentioning that applies to all episodes is the fantastic set pieces that frequently appear. Considering that most of the things in this game are technically buildable within the standard Minecraft game, it's incredibly satisfying to see what kind of structures and puzzles Telltale has dreamed up for this story. There's plenty of creativity on display here, and you may find yourself continuing on just to see what's next.
Unfortunately, technical issues mar the experience somewhat. Performance isn't a constant problem, but it does cast a shadow over proceedings. There will be times where the audio won't match up with the animation or will just outright cut out temporarily. During quicktime event sequences the framerate tends to chug along, too, sometimes even to the extent that you miss a button press because the display wasn't able to keep up. This is all a real shame; perhaps there's a lot going on behind the scenes, but these issues really feel like the product of lazy optimization.
Ultimately, fans of Telltale games or visual storytelling will find plenty to love here. The plotlines might not be anything groundbreaking, but there's a lot of heart to the characters. Performance issues and uneven pacing will occasionally take you out of the experience, and though we wish the game wasn't weighed down by these problems they aren't anything that ruins it in a significant way. Individuals who don't appreciate this type of game won't find much to change their mind here, but fans of the first episode will find plenty to love.