While entertaining, the newest episode of Minecraft: Story Mode doesn’t quite reach the high standard of the last one. Episode 5 set that new standard by moving beyond the initial Wither Storm narrative and telling a new, relatively self-contained story. While continuing to deliver along the same lines, Episode 6 doesn’t measure up as strongly.
Part of the three additional episodes added on to the end of Minecraft: Story Mode’s original five episode run, “A Portal to Mystery” picks up where the last left off, seeing the enchanted flint and steel drop Jesse and the group into another foreign world. While offering a fun mystery and a truly impressive amount of fan service, Telltale’s latest unfortunately also loses some of what’s made the series such a joy to play in the past and leaves a few too many plot holes in the end for the mystery to feel satisfying.
Despite its faults though, there is still plenty of fun to be had with Minecraft: Story Mode’s sixth episode. The action starts as Jesse, Petra, Ivor, and Lucas fall into a new world and find themselves surrounded by zombies. As they fight off the horde, Jesse picks up an invitation to a nearby mansion. Soon, the group is off at a run for the safety of the massive house. Why there was an invitation sitting in the middle of a graveyard is never discussed. Quickly brushing past that, the episode moves on almost as if assuming the adventurers were invited on purpose.
Once reaching the house, players are then introduced to the focal point of the entire episode: a whole handful of YouTubers. “A Portal to Mystery” features popular Minecraft streamers Stampy Cat, Stacy Plays, DanTDM, LDShadowLady, and CaptainSparklez. The voice work is solid and each character manages to burst with personality.
More than just offering their voices to the game however, the streamers actually play themselves. Telltale introduces the group with jokes about how many followers they have and even recent tutorial videos they’ve done. It’s good for a laugh at the start, but the episode never takes the characters any further than that.
It’s clear all of the people in the mansion know each other, and it’s revealed that each received an invitation of their own. But there is never any explanation of how they know each other or why they are famous in the context of this world. While the sky-city of Episode 5 had a history and felt like a fully developed place, Episode 6 offers only a single mansion and the fact that this world has two moons. Nothing feels all that interesting or different about this particular world, and Telltale never bothers to hint that there might be.
In truth, “A Portal to Mystery” feels like a celebrity-filled comedy sketch stretched into a full episode. The treatment of Stampy, Stacy, Dan, Lizzie (LDShadowLady), and Sparklez would make sense as a cameo. But when the entire episode centers on them, it’s not enough. Since the building competition all the way back in the premiere, Minecraft: Story Mode has based itself on the pure joy of seeing Minecraft fleshed out into a believable world in which people live. “A Portal to Mystery” falters on that front.
Despite all of this though, there’s still one fact that can’t be ignored: a smile never left my face the entire hour and 45 minutes of the episode.
Continuing to build on the sense of delight and adventure Story Mode has been refining as it goes, Episode 6 is just as funny and heartfelt as the best of the series so far. The action is ridiculous and wonderfully over-the-top, as only block characters can manage. References to the source material continue to fill every nook and cranny. And Telltale delivers an awesome spooky mansion for the characters to explore.
On top of all of that, the episode gives players a murder mystery to dive into. Lured to the mansion with invitations, Jesse’s group, the YouTubers, and a few others find themselves trapped. But things only get worse as the terrifying White Pumpkin stalks from the shadows, starts killing people off, and all signs point to the murderer being one of the guests.
While there are a few plot holes that take away from the final reveal, the mystery itself works well as the driving force for the episode. One particular highlight sees Jesse interrogate each of the guests in turn, trying to find a suspect. The hunt for the murderer, coupled with the chance that a trap could lurk around every corner, gives things a sense of urgency and keeps the pace from ever getting bogged down.
“A Portal to Mystery” certainly isn’t perfect. Giving more attention to the new world and the backstories of the mansion’s guests could have elevated the episode beyond the basic good time it ended up being. Filling in the plot holes surrounding the final reveal could also have made the climax more satisfying.
As is however, Minecraft: Story Mode’s sixth episode manages an enjoyable, if not stand-out, experience. Going forward, hopefully the last two episodes see a return to the strengths of Episode 5, leaving “A Portal to Mystery” as the entertaining one-off it’s clearly meant to be.