Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2 is a third-person episodic adventure game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PS3. Minecraft was released to the public in its original form on May 17th 2009, since becoming known as the Classic version that gradually increased in scale and quality as new updates were released. Minecraft has spectacularly evolved from an indie into one of the most successful games of all time with over 120 million sales across all platforms and over 50 million gamers active on a monthly basis. Telltale Games successfully adapted the gameplay of Minecraft into a story focused season in the form of Minecraft: Story Mode that went onto being expanded further by Minecraft: Story Mode – The Complete Adventure. In practicality, who better to create a back story for Minecraft than Telltale Games, but can Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2 succeed in delivering an even better story driven Minecraft experience in comparison to the first season?

The story revolves around Jesse and Petra discovering a gauntlet styled glove that wants Jesse to wear it; upon placing it on one of his hands, a vortex known as the Heckmouth begins to not only open up, but also absorb materials into it from Jesse’s hometown of Beacontown. Therefore, Jesse and Petra must lead a team on an adventure to find a solution to closing the Heckmouth before it becomes any larger or wider in order to protect all of Beacontown.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2 embraces your decisions and their respective consequences from the prequel season as you have the ability to import your save file containing all of your decisions from the previous season directly into Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2; which is a positive design choice as it affects the story, while providing continuity to a story that is capable of being influenced.

Building larger scale structures such as Jesse’s statue that is built for a friend in their front garden begins with button bashing to gather the resources needed to build from a neutral canvas followed by pressing up or down on the d-pad to cycle through inventory items, while moving the right analogue stick designates the positioning of the inventory item or moving the left analogue stick for a better view of your larger scale build then pressing L2 to place a highlighted inventory item or pressing R2 to remove an item before pressing O to indicate that the build has been completed. Crafting smaller items at a crafting table returns from the first season such as combining a piece of coal and a stick in order to create a torch or alternatively utilise four prismarine shards and four prismarine crystals to create a sea lantern or four prismarine shards to create prismarine.

Minecraft: Story Mode was the first Telltale adventure that allowed the player to customise the lead character to their personal preference of a male or female version of the lead character Jesse including a total of 12 styles that has been retained in Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2. Fighting gameplay introduces a stamina bar and a particular quantity of hearts to showcase how low Jesse’s health is that can be replenished by eating food and if Jesse needs to sidestep enemies for a few moments before swinging his sword at an enemy that is an excellent design choice as it improves gameplay balancing in comparison to the first season. Character and enemy design is faithful to Minecraft as every character and enemy consists of Minecraft stylised blocks. Enemy design has a positive amount of variety including zombies, spiders, creepers, underwater creatures, statues that come to life and much more besides.

Environment design is just as faithful to Minecraft as the character and enemy design as every structure and item is constructed from the same sort of blocks. Environments capture the essence of Minecraft perfectly as they provide the scale, freedom and imagination that can be found, explored and built in Minecraft. Environments include Beacontown, Champion City, underground mines, the Heckmouth, underwater segments and more besides. In certain scenarios; Jesse has a choice of how to approach an objective by exploring one of two areas such as whether to sneak in through the dog kennel or to fight the guards of Champion City when attempting to retrieve Petra’s golden sword.

Telltale’s trademark comedic charm and humour returns in Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2 such as Radar’s comment about knowledgeable casting in regards to Jesse helping out with choosing a pig to represent Reuben the pig’s float. When Jesse is asked to choose a pig to represent Reuben the pig on the float; if Jesse responds by suggesting that all three of the pigs look the same, then the curator that short listed the three pigs is offended and pleads with Jesse to look at their offended little faces, while all three pigs randomly stare into the distance or at the floor as though they were not interested either way. Despite shadows making it look akin to a menacingly tall creature; Jesse and Petra find a Llama that does not particularly get on well with Jesse as it kicks its legs at Jesse’s armour before frowning and spitting at him. Meanwhile, Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2 channels upon pop culture such as the reveal of the Heckmouth is definitely a play on the name Hellmouth; inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, while the giant Prismarine Colossus that is discovered later into the first episode is reminiscent to that of Shadow of the Colossus.

The My Choices feature from Telltale’s previous games makes a welcome return by providing an entire listing of your choices including statistical analysis regarding the percentage of players who have made the same choice as you for each moral decision as well as a variety of decisions that are scattered throughout the chapters of each episode with the feature being directly available from the main menu and at the end of each episode.

It is sad to say that a Vita native version of either Minecraft: Story Mode season will never happen or anymore of Telltale’s amazing episodic seasons other than the brilliant Vita ports of The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season, The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season and The Wolf Among Us, although remote play is a minor consolation. Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2’s remote play performance is on par with the graphics, audio and general performance of the PS4 version. However, the remote play control scheme is retained from the previous season, so once again despite selectables being re-mapped to L and running moving to R; fighting actions have remained on the top left of the rear touch pad that seems a rather odd omission given that everything else from the DualShock 4’s L2 and R2 buttons were re-mapped; therefore providing a control scheme that is not as comfortable as it should have been when it particularly comes to fast paced aerial actions such as Jesse needing to catch an item thrown to him by Petra in the fifth chapter of the first episode.

The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller as the control scheme retains the refinements from Tales from the Borderlands, season two of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us resulting in a greater differentiation between actions, conversations and fighting. The control scheme consists of pressing X, triangle, square or O to perform actions, starting a conversation or choosing a response during a conversation with the relevant buttons being clearly defined towards the bottom of the screen; pressing L2 to perform fight actions when defending Jesse or a friend in a one-on-one encounter with a creeper, zombie or other enemies; holding L2 to show selectables; holding R2 to run; pressing up, down, left or right on the d-pad to navigate the inventory; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move Jesse as he explores the environments; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to move the reticle around the environment for you to investigate and observe certain objects and items of importance as well as deciding who to start or continue a conversation with or even positioning your aim when you are about to defend Jesse or a friend and avoiding enemy attacks; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.

The PS4 version of previous Telltale stories have lacked any touch pad, light bar and vibration functionality with Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2 being no different in this aspect which is surprising as it would have provided some further improvements over previous Telltale stories. There is no touch pad implementation which could have had quick time events (QTEs) optionally mapped to the touch pad or it could have otherwise been utilised as an optional method of exploring your surrounding environments or even participating in conversations and moral choices, while the light bar could have produced green gradually fading to red as the time available to perform a QTE during a one-on-one encounter with a creeper or zombie ticks down, alongside the lack of DualShock 4 vibration that could have been utilised when Jesse gets into one of his many fights with creepers or zombies or when having a heavy fall during exploration of a tough environment.

Graphically, Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2 follows in the footsteps of its prequel season that was inspired by the art style and subject matter of Minecraft as everything is assembled from Minecraft blocks. Despite primarily consisting of blocks; there are some excellent graphical touches such as the lighting and shadows, underwater effects, the Heckmouth and the cinematic presentation of fighting gameplay.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, episodes menu, my choices menu, settings menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds focus on The Beacon in Jesse’s hometown during Founding Day.

An excellent array of voice-over performances from the entire cast including the returning Patton Oswalt voicing the male Jesse having starred as the Koenig quadruplets in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and voicing lead character Remy in Ratatouille, while Catherine Taber voices the female Jesse having previously voiced Shanna and Rogue in Marvel Heroes and Andoria in Final Fantasy: Type-0 HD; Ashley Johnson voicing Petra having voiced Gortys in Tales from the Borderlands and Ellie in The Last of Us; Scott Porter voices Lukas having previously voiced Star-Lord and Peter Quill in Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Luke in The Walking Dead: Season 2 and Dick Grayson and Nightwing in Batman: Arkham Knight; JB Blanc voicing Vos and The Admin having previously portrayed Bane in Batman: The Enemy Within – The Telltale Series Season 2, Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Underworld and Boldo Holomek and Sid Pereira in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus; Yuri Lowenthal voices Radar having previously voiced Spider-Man and Peter Parker in Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3; Fred Tattasciore voicing Jack having previously voiced Isaak and Maximos in Spyro the Dragon: Reignited Trilogy and Rhino in Spider-Man; and even more cast members producing equally talented performances.

Sound effects include walking, interaction with objects, crafting items and ambience such as wind or atmospheric sounds, while the music reflects the tone of the scene from thoughtful and provoking to foreboding and climactic. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced a further layer of audio with voice-overs for conversations, sound effects such as collecting an item for your inventory, crafting an item and ambience or music.

The trophy list includes 31 trophies with 15 bronze trophies, 10 silver trophies, 5 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The trophy list for all five episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2 is entirely based upon completing each chapter within each episode; resulting in a somewhat easy trophy list in regards to the fact that you will platinum the trophy list if you are able to complete the story with only a single playthrough required. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 12 hours to platinum the trophy list.

There are certain areas that provide an increased difficulty curve such as crafting items on a crafting table that are required to be fitted into specific slots within a puzzle in order to open an important door and continue exploring a larger scale environment within the fifth chapter of the first episode. Meanwhile, there is a lot more emphasis on fighting gameplay in comparison to the previous season with the stamina bar and a quota of hearts providing tense combat in harmony with more balanced fighting gameplay.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2’s supports Crowd Play that allows the player to host a Crowd Play gameplay session that essentially offers a local multiplayer experience that could technically support up to thousands of people within a large theatre or 4 to 12 people gathered in any given normal sized room for a party game atmosphere, although the host player needs to have a Telltale account. People can join your game quite simply as a game code is generated when the host player creates a Crowd Play environment; people can enter the game code on a particular Telltale web-address, then immediately start voting on choices throughout the story without any of the people even needing to own the game other than the host player. There is a wide range of accessibility to voting on choices as people can vote from pretty much any mobile device.

However, despite there being no online leaderboards; there is a statistical analysis of the decisions that you have made during each episode in comparison to the decisions that everyone else who has played Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2 has made which is a positive design choice in the sense that it provides you with an in depth look at if you have made the correct decision or if you were incorrect in the eyes of a certain percentage of people who have played the game. Every decision within each episode is clearly defined in the statistical analysis and it is incredibly interesting to see at the end of the final chapter of every episode what percentage of players made the same decisions as you and to also see the percentage of players that disagreed with your choices.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2’s replayability is as impressive as ever due to the ability for a group of people to vote on moral decisions via Crowd Play that perfectly compliments the multiple storylines players can shape by experiencing the season over the course of multiple playthroughs. Experimenting with different combinations of moral choices to see which direction your decisions will ultimately guide the story regarding which group Jesse teams up with in certain scenarios within particular episodes; therefore creating a closer bond between Jesse and specific characters he was not as acquainted with beforehand and making prior friendships even stronger.

Analysis
• Title: Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2
• Developer: Telltale Games
• Publisher: Telltale Games
• System: PS4 (Version Reviewed) and PS3
• Format: Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1
• Hard Drive Space Required: 6.77GB (Version 1.02)

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Storyline
95 %
Gameplay
95 %
Graphics & Sound
95 %
Controls
95 %
Difficulty
95 %
Replayability
95 %
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Jason
Jason plays all genres of games and enjoys all different kinds of experiences that the games industry has to offer. Jason’s favourite PlayStation exclusive franchises throughout various eras include: Crash Bandicoot, God of War, Gran Turismo, inFamous, Killzone, Little Big Planet, MotorStorm, Resistance, Spyro the Dragon, Uncharted, Wipeout and various games that never became big name franchises. A special mention goes to Black Rock’s superb Split Second: Velocity as it is rather unbelievable that it will never receive a sequel. Jason now mainly plays modern PlayStation games on home console and portably, but occasionally returns to the old retro classics on the 3DO, PS1 and PS2 such as discovering Cool Spot Goes to Hollywood 20 years after its original release on PS1. Jason is happy to see gaming coming full circle with updates for retro classics such as Alien Breed, Superfrog and Crash Bandicoot.

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