'The Last Place You Look'
Credit: Telltale Games
  • Video Games

From the opening minutes of Minecraft: Story Mode’s third episode, “The Last Place You Look” announces itself as something better than the last two episodes preceding it. Telltale Games has ramped up its opening credits game this year (with Tales from the Borderlands use of great rock tracks and the adaptation of HBO’s Game of Thrones now-iconic opening). And “The Last Place You Look” steps up to the occasion with an extended, interactive action sequence over the credits, blending story, character, and action in the way Telltale’s strongest episodes do.

And so “The Last Place You Look,” plays like a breath of fresh air, with no scene, whether it’s a quiet, conversation-filled one or a bombastic, world-saving sequence, wasted. Each matters in fleshing out the world, the characters both new and old, and the existing relationships. Whereas Story Mode’s pilot offered a light but charming introduction to the world, and episode 2 delivered a lithe, underwhelming affair, episode 3 feels like a turning point in the series, for both its story and its quality.

As players work to gather The Order of the Stone, Jesse’s ragtag group has to learn to work together and save the world. Story Mode’s characters may not be as complex as some of Telltale’s more mature affair, but anchored by Patton Oswalt, Scott Porter, Ashley Johnson and the rest of the strong voice work, “Last Place” is full of heart as it lands a number of honest, sympathetic character beats. Whether it’s Petra’s plight, Jesse’s attempts to be a leader, or the mismatched Order bouncing off one another, “Last Place” makes good on the promise of the pilot and offers hope for the homestretch.

The episode introduces the final Order member in the form of John Hodgman’s Soren. Without spoiling too much of the fun, Hodgman paints a picture of what Jesse and players expect to be a towering hero into an eccentric hermit. And yet even only a few minutes after his introduction, Soren and his clear desire to find where he belongs packed as strong an emotional punch as Petra’s illness or the group’s overall tension.

“Last Place’s” writing rises to the occasion, making for the first compelling entry in Story Mode. The episode doesn’t rewrite the book on Telltale’s formula, but from its introductory sequence to the final moments that genuinely tugged at my heartstrings, “Last Place” is a successful and, most importantly fun, cut above its predecessors. Throw in a genuinely interesting (if cliched) cliffhanger, and the midpoint of the season serves as both the end of the season’s less impactful build-up and the beginning of its true potential being fully realized.

Minecraft: Story Mode episode 3 is now available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, Windows PC, iOS and Android devices.

Minecraft: Story Mode
  • Video Games