In a surprise move for Telltale Games, Minecraft: Story Mode second episode, Assembly Required, has the shortest time between release dates of previous episodes. The episodic game-maker usually makes fans wait several weeks (or, in Game of Thrones’ case, months) before we are allowed the next chapter in a series, so at first glance it was a welcome change to see it already out so quickly.
Unfortunately, that shortest time factor also reigns true for the episode as well, coming in at a shockingly brief 65 minutes and, sad to say, the most disappointing chapter of perhaps any Telltale series. Rather than building on its promising debut, Episode 2 stumbles. It still has all of Episode 1: The Order of the Stone’s flaws while introducing a few new ones of its own. Most of the humor and heart that balanced the premiere’s weaker elements and kept it enjoyable are also absent.
Getting from the beginning of the episode to yet another cliffhanger ending is more or less the same as it was last time. There are some simple action sequences where you can swipe the screen to attack, several quick-time events during the more complex sequences, and a little bit of walking around and tapping on interaction icons. Though this time the ante has been upped a bit with some traditional point-and-click adventure elements and the option to look at certain things before interacting with them.
It still doesn’t feel like enough, though. Assembly Required was an interesting story to play through, but it really could’ve benefited from some added complexity. As with The Order of the Stone, the puzzles are too simple to be satisfying and there really aren’t that many of them to begin with.
Thankfully, the authentic, detailed, and massive sets remains a highlight of Story Mode. Wandering through Ellegaard’s Redstone Lair, and later through a massive underground fortress, does as much to help with the characterization of their fictional creators and left me pondering how Telltale actually created them. Yet there is once again disappointingly little to do in them, and almost no freedom to truly wander.
The voice acting is still on-point and Assembly Required does what it needs to in order to move the story along to presumably something more stirring, but the lack of content and ease of finishing the episode makes me wonder if this could have been assimilated into the other chapters to make the Minecraft: Story Mode a shorter, stronger 4-episode arc. Whatever the case, the brevity of Assembly Required makes this series a ‘one step forward, two steps back’ affair.