‘Minecraft: Story Mode’ Episode 7 – ‘Access Denied’ Review

Platforms PS4 / Xbox One / Windows / OS X / iOS / Android / Xbox 360 / PS3/ Vita / Wii U

Publisher Telltale Games Developers Telltale Games & Mojang

Genre Point and Click Adventure Platform Played Xbox One

Minecraft: Story Mode’s seventh installment brought forth a new chapter for Jesse and his friends. Just like its previous episodes, Access Denied, follows the method of a self-contained storyline. Where the episode differs however, is that it also attempts to introduce a larger ongoing crisis to help link the next and final episode of the series.

This episode builds upon the formula from previous episodes, where Jesse and co. travel to foreign worlds using a portal. The group chemistry emanates a dreary undertone as it’s revealed they have been travelling from world to world attempting to get back home. This idea of finding a way home is reminiscent of a sci-fi story and it’s clear that Telltale takes on this idea to flesh out well constructed self-contained stories. These stories allow Jesse and the group to feature in stories that span a multitude of different genres, it’s great.

Set in a dystopian-like world where an AI (Artificially Intelligent) machine rules supreme, Access Denied explores the age old Frankenstein-Creator relationship where players are introduced to Harper, a mysterious genius. It’s quickly found out Harper created the AI machine, PAMA. This AI-like villain sets the tone for the dystopian and bleak world they are faced with. Barron and without greenery, the world is shown to be teeming with robot-like zombies, humans and animals.

After a confrontation with PAMA it comes down to Jesse and his merry gang to take down the machine that’s hell-bent on making everyone ‘useful’ by implanting and controlling them with chips. This Minecraft take on the subgenre of a dystopian, almost Stanley Kubrick-like world shows that Telltale isn’t afraid to take the series in a different direction. While the premise comes off as an interesting direction, the execution of it ultimately results in a clichéd hero-villain story. And although Access Denied is filled with fun, humor, team work and other aspects that players have come to love from the Minecraft: Story Mode series, it does feel as if it’s lacking integrity and uniqueness.

The overall involvement of players actions is an immense factor that is lacking in Access Denied. The actions chosen by players didn’t feel as important as previous episodes while the puzzles also weren’t overly complicated. Most puzzles could be completed in a very quick fashion. This lack of player involvement makes the episode feel less like a video game and more like a TV show or Movie where the outcome is always the same regardless of audience interaction. What makes traditional Telltale games distinct is feeling the weight with every decision made by the player, holding a sense of consequence as a result of selecting to do one thing over another. This episode completely lacked in that regard.

Gameplay aside, Access Denied familiarized players with some history of the Minecraft universe with its introduction of Harper and presented an interesting new storyline that will come to fruition in the next and final episode. Some issues that existed in this particular episode can hopefully be resolved in the final episode through the inclusion of an end goal which can hopefully give it some integrity.

While some interesting characters were introduced with Harper and PAMA, it left me yearning for an episode following some kind of structure, beyond the basic idea of defeating the villain to win. The formula of a self-contained story that the series has been following is now starting to show its flaws through its use of generic hero, villain characters.

Without a general direction or end-goal a lot of the actions feel insignificant in Access Denied. The puzzles aren’t too special and exploration isn’t too prevalent either. While this episode was a letdown it does end on an intriguing proposition that will hopefully come to redeem the negatives of this episode, in the next and final chapter. If it can be skipped, I’d give this episode a miss.

The Good

  • Some interesting characters introduced.
  • Great direction premise with an artificially intelligent machine.
  • Interesting to see team not get along so well.
  • Ending made for an exciting follow up.

The Bad

  • Plot was overall clichéd.
  • No real end goal.
  • Decisions felt insignigicant.
  • Puzzles were fairly easy to complete.

The Score: 6