Staring contest, old man. Let’s do it.
Please note that since each episode of Minecraft: Story Mode — Season Two 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 Hero in Residence.
We begin Episode 4 with Jesse and his friends stuck in the land that spawned the three Admins, referred to here as “The Underneath,” and facing a giant Enderman. They’re able to at least temporarily elude the creature, and Jesse (along with Radar and Petra) embark for a stronghold that once served as the home of Fred, an Admin that fell when confronting Romeo, the Admin the group originally encountered.
Their mission in Below the Bedrock is to find a weapon that Xara spoke of that they can use to defeat Romeo once and for all. So as Xara looks for a way to teleport them back to their world, Jesse must partake in a trivia contest to prove his knowledge of Fred and earn the right to spend a night in the ex-Admin’s home — ostensibly to search for the weapon.
That quest proves to take up the majority of the episode, and there’s surprisingly little of note for your critical decisions outside of an early one involving Jack. You’re given a little bonding time with Petra, who sees parallels between the falling out of the Admins and the strained friendship between her, Jesse and Season One mainstays Axel and Olivia, but outside of that there isn’t much relationship building.
There’s also basically no appearance from Romeo or Stella, who have served as your primary foils over the first three episodes, and with the storyline of Fred’s weapon being wrapped up before the credits roll it gives Episode 4 a very contained feel. In a lot of ways it comes across as something that would happen off-screen in a film or be explained away with a few lines of dialogue.
Below the Bedrock does attempt to vary the gameplay a bit, using the usual QTEs and fixed perspective fighting along with the aforementioned trivia (and the parts leading up to it where you gain the info necessary to win) and sections where you can build whatever you want. Some of it can lean on the tedious side, but at least TellTale is trying to keep things fresh as it goes.
A couple of nice surprises also work their way into the episode, and you’re given more insight into the relationship between the Admins, all of which is nice, but there’s no getting around the fact that when things wrap up you’re basically right back where you began — albeit better prepared for the showdown we all know is coming in the finale.
Touring the Underneath is interesting, and there is a couple good set pieces, but Below the Bedrock doesn’t ramp up the intensity in a way befitting the penultimate episode.