Season two of Minecraft: Story Mode got off to a surprisingly strong start, with some fun new characters, welcome gameplay tweaks, and an intriguing new story. It did an excellent job at feeling like an interactive cartoon, with an overall sense of light-heartedness, punctuated by just enough seriousness to keep things interesting. With the pace set, though, can episode two keep up the momentum?
I arrived in town bright and early, and was quickly greeted by a company representative. Almost immediately, they began rattling through their “best practices” list that every new hire has to hear. To be honest, I didn’t really mind; this wasn’t my first run as mayor, but, seeing as I’d been out of the game for a while, it was good to get a refresher course. Something seemed off, though. The rep’s ear-to-ear grin and exuberant shaking of my hand seemed to mask the fact that they were more than a little scatter-brained. Within minutes, they jumped from the acquisition of Lings (citizens of the town) to resource gathering and management, and then into combat and trading.
“But wait, how do I—”
“Aaaaand that’s it! Good luck!” cried the rep as they dived past a Mushface (a race of lumbering mushroom-folk) into the town’s dimensional portal. I looked at the Mushface, confusion and worry plastered all over my face, but he just shrugged and walked through the portal. An auspicious start.
Another day, another new Telltale series. It seems that every franchise is getting adapted to the tried-and-true “interactive movie” format, and with the first season of Minecraft: Story Mode, the formula was starting to show its age. The series wasn’t without its high points, but these came with tonal inconsistencies, technical problems, and some downright cringe-worthy moments. The prospect of a second season didn’t so much appear as a chance at redemption as another cheap cash grab on top of the first season’s questionable Adventure Pass. However, completely out of left field, Telltale actually seems to have made some changes with this one! The question is, are they enough?
Of all the franchises that Telltale has tackled, Minecraft seems to be the one that was met with the most scepticism. There’s no real plot in the original game; any sense of story comes from the player’s own creativity. The world is randomly-generated, with a distinct lack of memorable landmarks and locales. How can a game that amounts to a digital toy be turned into a linear, narratively-focused adventure? Well, Telltale seems determined to find out, even if it must build a new world from scratch to do it.
I have a confession to make: I did not achieve 100% completion before reviewing Immortal Planet.
Now, for anyone well-versed in the practice of games journalism, that should come as no surprise. There are too many games and not enough time in the day to see every bit of content in each. However, in the case of Immortal Planet, I was tempted. See, completing the game on the Normal difficulty rewards you with an achievement called “Bad Ending” and unlocks the Nightmare difficulty: effectively a New Game Plus mode. There was some speculation that beating the Nightmare mode would unlock the “good ending” for the game, and this later seemed confirmed in some developer patch notes on July 29. The notes clearly stated, “added Good Ending” as one of the points. Seems self-explanatory.
In the end, though, I decided against pursuing this ending. I figured that forcing myself through the game for another 10 to 15 hours would only sour my thoughts on it. Better to take some time away from it and come back to it on my own time; not like a new ending was really going to change my thoughts on the game.
It turns out that that may have been a more prudent decision than I at first thought. A recent post on the Immortal Planet Steam forums has seen players testing countless methods of unlocking this ending, all to no avail. Simply beating the game on Nightmare mode isn’t good enough, and neither is completing all the in-game challenges.
Eventually, data miners got fed up with this debacle and started hunting through the game’s files. Their discovery? A file (named English.loc) containing all the text for the game, including everything that was exclusive to the Nightmare mode. The last few lines of this file contained the intro and outro text for the game, clearly labelled as such. Lo and behold, there was only one of each. No extra text for an extra ending means only one thing: there is no secret “good ending” in Immortal Planet.
Slow, stamina-based combat? Check. Enemies that respawn whenever you rest to heal? Check. Experience points that get dropped every time you die? Check. No, this isn’t some ill-promoted sequel to the Dark Souls series; it’s an isometric action game by the name of Immortal Planet.
To say that Immortal Planet draws heavy inspiration from FromSoftware’s famous series is an understatement. For the first half hour or so of the game, every time I asked, “I wonder if it does this thing that Dark Souls does?” the answer was a resounding, “Of course!” Thus, Immortal Planet takes place in a semi-open world backed by a largely vague narrative. As a mysterious Awakewalker, you are tasked with restoring the Cycles of the planet, the lack of which has caused it to turn to a frozen wasteland. In your way stand countless enemies with varying attack patterns, all of which need to be analysed and circumvented to succeed.