Please note that since each episode of Minecraft: Story Mode features the same graphics engine and control setup, those elements will not be repeated in our reviews for the final four episodes. To read our thoughts on that, refer to our review of Order of the Stone.
After releasing the first four episodes in a 10-week window, TellTale waited more than three months to bring Episode 5, Order Up, to gamers. In the interim, it was announced the series would actually be extended for three additional episodes (for a total of eight) as part of an Adventure Pass.
While under other circumstances extending a TellTale series would be cause for celebration, Minecraft: Story Mode seemed to have played its hand after just four, leaving me less than enthusiastic about finishing the original arc much less three more. And then something unexpected happened while I was playing Order Up… I started to have fun with Story Mode again.
We find our team (Jesse, Petra, Axel and Olivia — Ivor and Lukas resurface a bit later) having formed a new Order of the Stone. They’re also aggressively pursuing treasure and exploring foreboding ruins to find rare artifacts to take back to their throngs of adoring followers.
Not everyone appreciates that, however, as the Ocelots have been rebranded as the Blaze Rods and are now led by Aiden, who is instantly the best villain the series has had — Ivor was too quirky and the Wither Storm was too large and mindless to be an actual foil.
He and the Blaze Rods are willing to openly challenge Jesse, and when they catch the Order having opened a portal to another world in search of the “Eversource,” an item Ivor covets, they get the better of them and enter with a head start.
What you find on the other side is a city suspended in the air where each and every build is overseen and approved by the Founder, and when the Blaze Rods convince the Founder that the new Order of the Stone is there to steal the Eversource it becomes an uphill battle for Jesse and company.
It really feels like TellTale went back to the drawing board with the series as there’s a new edge to the characters. Yes, it’s still eminently playable by younger audiences, but much of the goofiness is gone and the dynamic between Aiden and Jesse carries real intensity. Their encounters represent the high point for the series’ quick-time event sections.
One unique element is that the story is, by and large, completely self contained. There are threads that could be picked up and brought forward into future episodes, but it feels like TellTale is introducing a new style for the upcoming three-pack Adventure Pass where each one will cover a single journey of the new Order of the Stone. Given how much better Order Up is than the last three episodes, I’ll take it.
Order Up did exactly what it needed to do: it took the series in a modified direction and rekindled my enthusiasm for it in advance of the three additional episodes coming later this year. I was skeptical it could be done, but kudos to TellTale for making some much-needed changes to inject new life into Minecraft: Story Mode.