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Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4 – A Block and a Hard Place Review: The Order Awakens

/ Jan 5th, 2016 No Comments

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4

Minecraft: Story Mode is one episode away from wrapping up, and the penultimate episode sets up the finale with unexpected twists and major choices. Episode 4 – A Block and a Hard Place has the best writing in the series thus far, adding a darker tone to the child-friendly vibe of Minecraft: Story Mode.

Related: Check out our reviews of previous episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode.

Goodbye to Order, Hello to Chaos

The Order of the Stone is in shambles following a false victory at the end of the third episode. Episode 4 picks up immediately following this turn of events. While the previous three episodes focused on Jesse’s relationship with the other characters, the fourth episode finally gets into the details surrounding the Order of the Stone. Players must decide the fate of the Order’s place in the world.
 

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4

The usual suspects.

Why Minecraft: Story Mode works from a story-telling perspective boils down to one key point: natural dialogue. Nothing is stilted or forced in terms of writing and delivery, creating characters that players empathize with despite their blocky look. The characters never only use words, but will also interact with one another to convey emotions. In Minecraft: Story Mode, this works. It makes the cartoonish characters feel more human, but the emotions befit the role.

Dodging the Storm

Episode 4 continues to rely heavily on quick-time events, but action sequences utilize more than just the directional buttons for dodging. The majority of gameplay centers around the dialogue and choices of the player, with some of the crafting and feeding that will be familiar for Minecraft fans.
 

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4

Left, right, X, Circle… annnnd I’m gone!

At this point, the QTEs have become somewhat of a drain, only made interesting by the situations themselves. Story and action help keep the gameplay from getting stagnant, but that is the nature of QTEs. Another Telltale game, Tales from the Borderlands, introduced complex button sequences, often asking for two buttons to be hit simultaneously. Minecraft: Story Mode could have benefitted greatly from this, but instead, the QTEs are uniform and tedious.

Say Something Jesse!

The voice cast of Minecraft: Story Mode deserves a lot of recognition. Their contributions to the game are what bring it to life. Getting gamers to feel for a bunch of blocky characters is no easy feat, but Minecraft: Story Mode does so with great writing and excellent performances from its actors.
 

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4

Wow… that’s some pig… Oh! The giant weird wall, that’s cool too!

Somehow, the graphics find balance between the signature Minecraft style and the immersion necessary to create a good Telltale game. Characters give believable expressions that convey a complex set of emotions despite the limitations set by the art style. Episode 4 – A Block and a Hard Place takes keen advantage of the emotional range of its voice talent as well as the graphical prowess of its development team to create a rich picture.

Overall

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4 – A Block and A Hard Place is one of the better episodes of the series. While previous episodes had to build the story, the fourth one focuses on its own plot and allows the twists to finally unravel. It ends on a strange note, but one episode remains. The excitement for the next episode is perfectly drawn out by one of the best cliffhangers ever in a Telltale title.

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4 – A Block and a Hard Place was reviewed on PS4 using a code for the game provided by the publisher.

 

Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson

Associate Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Greg is a Nintendo fanboy who would cry if they ever went third party. He writes news, previews and reviews at Gaming Illustrated.
Greg Johnson

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Top Articles

MINECRAFT: STORY MODE EPISODE 4 – A BLOCK AND A HARD PLACE REVIEW: THE ORDER AWAKENS

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall86%

GAMEPLAY7.5

The QTEs have sadly begun to drag in this latest episode, but it's more for appealing to younger and less inexperienced gamers, still "why so easy?"

GRAPHICS9

The ability to express great character facial details and amazing landscapes is second to none.

SOUND9

Quality voice acting, as well as, a still definitively "Minecraft" soundtrack.

STORY9

Minecraft: Story Mode truly comes into its own with Episode 4 by elaborating on questions left unanswered while providing satisfying outcomes to past choices.

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