As a wise old housekeeper for a parochial house on a remote Irish island might have said if Minecraft had been a thing back then, "Minecraft, Minecraft, Minecraft, Minecraft, Minecraft, Minecraft, Minecraft. What you kids see in it, I don't know.". And if news of the block-building, item-crafting, Creeper-bashing phenomenon has even spread to the remote corners of Craggy Island, then we can assume that pretty much every man and his dog has heard of Minecraft by now. With the free-form creative sandbox game being such a phenomenon, it was only a matter of time before Minecraft spin-off games started popping up, with 2015's Minecraft Story Mode, a much more story-driven take on the Minecraft world, seemingly being the first of many. Minecraft Story Mode: Season Two picks up where the first eight episodes left off, with point and click adventure masters Telltale once again taking the helm for a trip into the world of Minecraft.
As before, Minecraft Story Mode: Season Two is split into five separate episodes, with staggered releases, so you won't be able to play through the whole tale in one sitting until all have been released. While the first episode is free to download, and acts as an extended demo/introduction to the series, playing through the whole story through episodes two to five will require you to shell out either on an episode by episode basis, or at a slightly discounted rate for a 'Season Pass' to bulk-buy all the episodes in one, prior to their release.
Season Two sees you hopping back into the rather square shoes of Story Mode protagonist Jesse once more, now a seasoned adventurer and two-times world-saver. As you can probably guess, a new enemy threat has emerged, and it falls to Jesse, alongside his/her best friend Petra, to save the day once more, this time from a mysterious being known as 'the Admin' - the guy who claims to be responsible for building the world as they know it. What follows is an adventure that revolves almost entirely around dialogue and decisions, as you chat with the other residents of the cuboid world, help them out with their tasks, and make lots of important choices, each of which may alter how the story pans out, from something as subtle as reassuring a friend, to having to make a snap decision about which party member to help in a critical battle.
Episode 1: Hero In Residence
Beacontown, the settlement Jesse and the New Order of the Stone founded after defeating the destructive Witherstorm in Season One, is gearing up for the biggest celebration in its calendar - Founding Day. As the 'Boss', there's many a resident clamouring for your assistance with their preparations, whether it's building a statue (which you get total free reign over, for better or worse), testing out a bouncy slime block 'trampoline' or picking out the perfect piggy to play your porcine companion Reuben in a play (Lord von Thunderpork VI, obviously). A couple of cameo YouTubers - StacyPlays and Stampy Cat - debate the catering (pumpkin pie or cake) leaving it to you to make the final call; or, if you can find a few extra ingredients around town, you can craft both and keep everyone happy. There's much more emphasis this time around on dialogue decisions and crafting useful items to get past certain road blocks, and a lot less in the way of more traditional 'use the thing with the other thing' point and click puzzles - possibly better for the younger target audience, but a bit lacking for the more old-school of Telltale fans.
Later, you'll head to the mines to meet up with your old pal Petra for some good old fashioned adventuring, and team up with a Zapp Brannigan-esque 'legendary' adventurer named Jack, whose "instincts are better than nine ocelots tied together!", and who always has a tale of his daring deeds to tell.
Episode 2: Giant Consequences
Episode 2 kicks off with a bang - or at least a smash - when a giant prismarine Colossus, calling itself 'the Admin', attacks Beacontown, spoiling for a fight with Jesse. A great example of one of Minecraft Story Mode's more action-y sequences, you'll be rescuing townsfolk, dodging the Colossus' attacks and sneaking your way around to attack his weak spot. Done via 'QTE' sequences, in which a particular button will flash up on screen for a few seconds, and it's up to you to press it as quickly as you can, to perhaps punch the Colossus, or throw down a summon-able wall. While not hugely taxing, missing the odd command will still cause you to fail, forcing you to repeat the last few button presses over again before you can continue. However, with the Colossus defeated, a new disaster befalls the town - plunged into an eternal snowy night by 'the Admin', he challenges Jesse and co to climb his "awesome, fantastic, super-deadly icy palace of despair" if they ever hope to lift his curse.
Fast-forwarding a little, the group has been split up at a major branching point - depending on whether you choose to go with Petra, Jack and Vos, or join Lucas and Radar, you'll get a different challenge. Taking the later (in the name of fairness, seeing as the other group already had 3 folks), Jesse, Lucas and Radar soon arrived at a neat little shooting gallery mini-game, where, one crafted bow later, you need to shoot all the enemy targets as they appear, whilst avoiding your friends.
Episode 3: Jailhouse Block
Episode 4: Below The Bedrock
Episode 5: Above And Beyond
On the whole, if you liked Minecraft Story Mode: Season One, then its a fairly safe bet you'll like Season Two, too - it's more of the same story-driven Minecraft-themed fun, with the gang heading out on yet more adventures to save the world. Lighter on the puzzles but heavier on the dialogue choices and branching stories, it's great for those who fancy a bit more of a structured take on the open-ended Minecraft formula, split up into five hour or two-long episodes. However, while previous games encouraged you to go back and replay episodes and take a different path to see how things changed, Season Two has a rather uninspired trophy list that merely ticks off each episode as you complete it, which does dramatically reduce the replay value here, which is usually such a selling point for Telltale games. With the story altering based on your decisions, you'd usually have to play through the game twice, or perhaps even three times to get all the trophies/achievements - but now, you'll get them all in just one playing, which is a bit disappointing. Still, it's more of the same, and as funny as you'd hope.