Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 4: A Block and a Hard Place delivers solid humor with surprisingly excellent drama to emerge as the best episode this series has seen yet. Lack of character development from secondary characters still plagues A Block and a Hard Place, but the action-packed moments and high stakes nature of this fourth installment drive it forward and make it compelling throughout its roughly two hour run time.
A Block and a Hard Place picks up right after the Wither Storm resurrects and forces Jesse and his crew to run. This results in the group teaming up with Ivor to attempt to defeat the storm permanently. The twist at the end of last episode regarding the true nature of the Order of the Stone still carries over to this episode, and the resulting fallout between each character is uneasy and changes the dynamic almost entirely. The choice to confront the issue of focus on the wither storm was compelling, and I only wish the episode gave more opportunities to see how each character reacted, because seeing characters like Soren under a different light made their backstories and personalities much more complex.
Without giving away too much of the plot, A Block and a Hard Place wraps up the main story we’ve been presented so far. The most intriguing aspect of this being that there’s still one more episode to go. This is certainly one of the more surprising elements Telltale has presented so far, and I’m actually really excited to see what new adventure Minecraft: Story Mode has to offer, and I wonder how much, if any, the main storyline is involved.
A Block and a Hard Place mixes its humor and drama well, as most of the humor is sprinkled inbetween the tense moments or ditched entirely in order to focus on more dramatic scenes. It’s nice to see that Telltale knows when to turn the humor on and off in this episode so uneasy moments can turn humorous, but conversely being able to lock down a darker moment and capitalize on the aftermath.
When the episode winds down, there’s still plenty of loose ends left over, or it at least seems like a lot of plot points were tied up without every explaining what happened or why something isn’t an issue anymore. Even with one more episode to go, the promise of what’s to come seems like it’ll be an entirely different story.
Minecraft: Story Mode is riddled with underdeveloped characters, and A Block and a Hard Place still continues these issues. Olivia, who has been ignored almost entirely throughout the series, finally has a great interaction with Jesse when she talks about being self-conscious in redstone engineering, but it’s quickly brushed aside just as Olivia seemed to finally get her due. Axel has some great lines, but he too has a limited role in this episode. The sheer number of characters in Jesse’s group has grown to an amount that the (at most) two hour length doesn’t allow enough time to really meet and understand each character and their role in the conflict.
Outside of the secondary characters, Jesse and Reuben have amazing screen time together that establishes Jesse’s love for his pet and Reuben’s loyalty to his owner. Jesse and Reuben’s dialogue have stolen the show each time they communicate on screen, and that’s put center stage right up to the episode’s finale. The resulting humor and drama between the two is one of the more memorable relationships Telltale has created with their characters, and it shows with their ability to use subtle moments to perfectly capture feelings between two characters.
A Block and a Hard Place continues the positive upward trend for Minecraft: Story Mode, and the excellent mix of humor and drama has been produced with more finesse than previous entries. This episode does a fantastic job of making every moment feel important, and the pacing toward the end felt natural and much better than what we’ve been offered, so far. A Block and a Hard Place is the best episode yet, and what’s to come in the finale has
This review is based on a review copy of the PC version of Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 4: A Block and a Hard Place provided by Telltale Games.
- Intriguing ending
- Jesse and Reuben's interactions
- Good mix of humor and drama
- Underdeveloped characters
- Lots of loose ends