Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 5: Order Up! starts out with yet another interactive opening credits section, but with one glaring difference: the gang has gotten a lot stronger.
Each character performs impressive maneuvers that show their improved fighting abilities as the credits roll. Watching these hardened battle skills employed by each character gets players in the action immediately, while simultaneously offering a cinematic experience to enjoy along the way. This is what Minecraft: Story Mode does best – Episode 5 immediately feels like a natural addition to the series.
Jesse and the group start the episode hunting for treasure in a newly discovered temple. A recap video of recent events would be a helpful addition in this episode, especially since so many events transpired in Episode 4. While exploring the temple, I couldn’t help but feel lost in the story.
After an enjoyably simple lever-based puzzle and a few conversations, the modern Order of the Stone finds a collection of four treasure chests from which to pick. The one I opened contained a few seemingly random items like a pumpkin head, but the big catch was the flint and steel that had been mysteriously enchanted. Not much time passes before the temple decides it’s had enough of its visitors, and the group is forced to leave. Now armed with an inexplicably magical flint and steel, the decision is made to head back to town to show their newly recruited team member, Ivor. Upon their arrival, the story begins to piece itself together.
Life seems well and good! Townspeople gather around our heroes as they return from yet another prosperous treasure hunting endeavor. Not everyone looks up to them; some, like Aiden and the “Blaze Rods” (sound familiar?), feel jealous of their incredible success. Once the group finds Ivor through the crowd, the game’s natural hilarity begins to escalate. Ivor’s an odd ally, and this series’ knack for quality voice acting continues to present the story in a fun, yet somewhat disjointed way.
Conversations seem more forced than ever in this episode. Minor inconsistencies such as the vocal dialogue differing from the written script in the subtitles can be jarring over time, but it doesn’t take away from the game’s overall experience. Awkwardly stitched together choice-based conversations aside, the story really takes the series to a new height (intentional pun).
Ivor sees the enchanted steel and flint, then proceeds to tell the crew about a group of ancient builders that existed before The Order of the Stone even came to be. Additionally, he mentions a super powerful object that was supposedly once in their position: the Eversource. Traveling back to the temple to show Ivor where they found their loot leads the group through a series of events that eventually lands everyone in a different world via portal travel. Welcome to Sky City.
Sky City is a strange reality to say the least. Denizens aren’t allowed to build anything without a building permit granted by The Founder, the keeper of the Eversource and the only one allowed to build at will. Townsfolk line up for long periods of time waiting for their turn to use the single, guarded crafting table made available to them. People are scared of outsiders here, and you fit the bill perfectly. This is really where the story begins, quickly immersing the game in a mist of mystery.
Exploring the town is definitely entertaining, but invisible walls continue to impede on any sense of true freedom. Minor nooks can be found with a quick spark of excitement just to be denied when the camera stops moving, cutting Jesse off from continuing further down paths that aren’t directly related to the story. Episode 5 provides a collection of areas much larger than before, but this one still feels more linear than the others.
Episode 5 consistently challenges player’s morality, giving them plenty of opportunities to choose a selfish or selfless way to go about your business – these choices feel like they have more impact on the game than ever before. Jesse can either utilize his status for the greater good, or take advantage of the admiration for his own wants and needs. The story contains more potential than one would assume from the game’s title and delivers an interesting and thought-provoking twist at the end.
Getting to the end of the episode can feel a little forced and clunky, especially when small, attention-breaking distractions such as invisible walls continue to arise. With that said, this episode proposes more unique gameplay sections than in previous episodes. Challenging hurdles these are not, however, and the game remains just as easy as ever. This is the first episode that I died while playing due to missed quick time events, but the game reloads a recent autosave that removes most of the impact of death.
Minecraft: Story Mode effectively utilized the nature of its episodic platform. A lot of narrative content is crammed within the five available episodes. Timed decisions can really be a tough call when in the heat of the moment, leading to a decent amount of self-doubt when reflecting on your choices. Fans of Minecraft will inherently have more of a vested interest in the story as this series really embraces its source material from the original game to amplify its interactive storytelling. If you lack this innate interest in Minecraft, the story tends to feel a little melodramatic.
Episode 5: Order Up! really rounds out an enjoyably average experience. I definitely had fun with the little time I spent with the game (about 10 hours), but I couldn’t help but feel like I’d rather be playing something else. For those who adore the Minecraft universe, this is an excellent experience. Otherwise, it’s a pretty decent adventure that you won’t regret missing.
Review Statement: The author of this review received a PS4 code from the publisher for the purposes of this review.
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