Love it or hate it, Minecraft is a staple of modern gaming. It makes sense that Microsoft and Mojang would want to continue their collaboration – helping to give story to the world of blocks and dragons. The big question, does Minecraft: Story Mode’s first episode for season two, titled “Hero in Residence”, deliver a solid outing?

The premise for the first episode of season two revolves around Jesse, the games main protagonist. Thrown into the role of unlikely hero, he has to save Beacon Town and to solve the mystery of the magical gauntlet he now is forced to wear on his arm. It turns out that the eerie voice growling Jesse’s name had a lot more significance to the first episode than I had originally predicted. This voice was closely connected with the gauntlet, and ended up leading Jesse into even more trouble when discovering an overpowered being called The Admin.

As a whole, this episode had a very dramatic and cinematic feel to it. Personally, I love this impactful vibe because without it, a game like this could easily become mundane and boring. In this case, the powerful feeling worked in Minecraft: Story Mode’s favor and allowed it to be even more epic than it originally was in the first season.

When it comes to the lead protagonists for this season, things have been switched up. Instead of season one’s cast taking center stage, a new set of heroes have taken the spotlight. The main two characters that were kept for the second season as lead roles are Jesse and Petra. Seeing Petra take a leading role for this season excites me because she has always been one of my favorite characters, and has had one of the most mysteries backgrounds out of the gang. Along with Jesse and Petra are two other leads, Jack and Nurm. They are a duo of detectives/treasure hunters who have teamed up alongside our returning heroes for another epic adventure. Their personalities fit in perfectly story wise, and it has all come together beautifully in this first episode.

Another notable point is the wider range of option to free-roam. In the first season, free roaming was very limited. It seems that they have turned the tables for this season and are allowing the players to get a more hands-on, personal experience by giving more of an option to free-roam the map. There is even a section of the first episode where the player can build their own structure of their choosing without any direction. In my opinion, this makes Minecraft: Story Mode even stronger of a game because it allows more creativity from the player.

It’s also nice to see the many updates to the main Minecraft outing making appearances here. New features such as the addition of llamas and parrots are present, becoming key points in Minecraft: Story Mode in how it plays out.

Gameplay itself focuses on a mixture action and adventure, but also on pushing deep and emotional aspects as well. If there is one thing I can appreciate in the game, it’s the efforts to establish lore and canon within this universe. There are some very deep roots within the characters that are incorporated into the game, such as Jack’s backstory. It helps add layers to these characters – and also shows progress from the original season.

I was very close to having one big critique with the Minecraft: Story Mode, but my mind had a complete change right at the last-minute of gameplay for episode one. It seemed that the conflict for the storyline had been resolved, and that was how the first episode would be left off. It was worrying to me that there could have possibly been no cliffhanger at all. However, during the last-minute of gameplay, things did a complete turn and a cliffhanger was made. It was epic, shocking, and I give them props for scaring me in that way.

Minecraft: Story Mode’s second season is worth a try because of the emotional roller coaster it takes you on. It puts your feelings into a whirlwind, right up to the very last-minute of gameplay. It is action packed and heartfelt all at the same time, and it even tops the first season just by the first episode. It is something to keep your eye on as the episodes for Season Two progress.