A palpable fondness for the first two Monkey Island games radiates in each of the three gagged monkey games and the insulting sword fight in Return to Monkey Island. It’s the kind of love that flows down from the top, as Guybrush Threepwood’s latest adventure sees series author Ron Gilbert welcome back for the first time since Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge in 1991. Gamers The self-described nerd directed the development of this unexpected sequel alongside veteran writer and designer Dave Grossman and the talented team at developer Terrible Toybox. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that Return to Monkey Island is tinged with nostalgia and basking in this wistfulness with obvious joy. It’s also a thrilling sequel in its own right; a film that sees the beloved series return in hot fashion by combining ideas both old and new.
Like the first games in the series, Return to Monkey Island is a traditional 2D point and click adventure game built on storytelling and puzzle solving. The useless Guybrush protagonist Threepwood is back – older and just a little wiser this time around. The intrepid pirate also features a ton of returning characters, including his familiar teammate Elaine Marley and zombie arch-nemesis, LeChuck. However, the most compelling aspect of Return to Monkey Island is that it starts right where LeChuck’s Revenge has stopped.
When it comes to returning to the series, Gilbert and Grossman want to use the opportunity to finally unravel that game’s ending, but Return to Monkey Island isn’t exactly a direct sequel. First, it still takes into account the events of every Monkey Island game released after 1991, with characters like Murray, the talking skull demon appearing. The way it does this and the way it frames its narrative is fascinating, but diving into the specifics encroaches on main spoiler territory. Instead, I’ll just say this unconventional approach adds a mysterious wrinkle to an otherwise simple story, and the ending is no less provocative than the ending of LeChuck’s Revenge.
The main thrust of the story revolves around finally uncovering the secret of Monkey Island. Guybrush is not eligible to do so at the beginning of the game – with neither a ship nor a crew – so your first task is to find your way off the familiar Island of Melée. This is easier said than done, and it doesn’t take long for the story to swing in multiple directions as the twists and turns and doubles and triples pile up. The writing and performance from its returning voice cast is top-notch throughout, with most of the jokes present even when they’re not funny out loud. Monkey Island’s signature brand of absurd humor remains completely intact, whether it’s talking about past jokes, tapping into modern themes with its tongue stuck to its cheek, or showing off wit. self-introduce. There is also a seriousness to the whole experience that is impossible not to produce a permanent smile. For how much nostalgia pervades its setting, characters, and music, it’s also evident in the game’s warm tone as it takes you on another goofy pirate adventure.
Seeing Guybrush stroll out to the viewpoint of Melée Island, with a bonfire burning and a bearded Lookout purging the island, brought me back to playing Monkey Island Secrets for the first time. You can still visit the SCUMM Bar and listen to the pitch for the 1990s adventure game Loom, walk past the giant clock in the town square still stuck at 10pm, and chat with The Voodoo Lady first her bubbling cauldron. There have been a few changes since Guybrush last set foot on the island’s cobblestone streets, with a new, younger generation of pirates in charge and a few new owners taking up residence, but the Returning players will feel at home, especially as the soundtrack – arranged by composers returning from the series’ past – evokes familiar tunes that first entered the ears for the first time in decades. previous century.
Newcomers won’t have this instant connection, but the series has always felt strong and Return to Monkey Island is no different. Whether it’s the fun Caribbean-inspired music or the amount of detail etched into each scene, Monkey Island always feels special. Much of this has to do with the game’s evocative art style, which was an unfortunate point of contention that led to the game’s release. Each entry in the series introduces a new art style to keep things fresh and reintroduce the world with re-imagining, and Return to Monkey Island does this with versatility. Everything from the characters to the backdrops to the items, looks like it came out of a colorful storybook, with expressive caricatures and stunning close-ups that make the world come to life with an eye-catching aesthetic.
It’s a visual style that looks modern and the same can be said for its gameplay. The old SCUMM-based point-and-click interface for choosing different verb commands – such as “talk to” and “pick up” – has been replaced with a streamlined system that normally gives you one or two options that fit the context when interacting with an item or character. Carrying your inventory allows you to take items and drag them into a scene, either to give them to someone, place them somewhere, or combine them with something. There’s also a helpful to-do list that sits in your inventory so you can keep track of your goals. It’s all very intuitive and allows you to focus on solving the multitude of puzzles that Return to Monkey Island throws your way.
At the start of each game, you are given a choice of two difficulty modes: Normal, which makes the puzzles simpler by eliminating some of the steps needed to solve them, and Hard, which has more puzzles and is difficult More like 90s games. Whichever option you choose, Return to Monkey Island continues the series’ tradition of challenging you with abstract creative conundrums to solve. They are rarely completely abstract and have a funny logic to most solutions. The puzzles are all intertwined with the game’s storytelling, with many puzzles often triggering a chain reaction where solving something for one character unlocks the solution for others. Figuring out how different items come together and then using them to crack the brain is inherently satisfying, although there are a few puzzles that disappointingly reuse the same solution and then there are some trips back and forth between multiple locations that could have been handled more smoothly.
If you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular puzzle, Return to Monkey Island presents a magical hint book that you can turn to when completely confused. Instead of giving you the correct answer right away, you can ask the questions in this enchanting book to gradually receive hints that will help steer you in the right direction. It sounds simple, but the system is quite ingenious. The game knows which puzzles you’ve solved and what items are currently in your inventory, so each question and hint is tailored to your current situation. The use of the hint system is also completely optional, allowing you to skip it entirely or just rely on it when you’re really stuck.
Return to Monkey Island is a game for fans of the series. There’s a scrapbook on the main menu that recounts the events of past games, but it’s light on specifics and feels more like a refresher course than an important tool for newbies. catch up with previous hijinks. Returning players will love the fan service and familiar warmth that pervades the entire experience, but it still manages to make itself more accessible to beginners. There’s no denying that certain elements would be lost without that longstanding connection, but having a history with the series isn’t essential to enjoying Guybrush Threepwood’s latest prison break. . Return to Monkey Island tells a wholesome and engaging tale of horrifying pranks that can appeal to anyone looking for a hearty adventure at sea.