Back to Monkey Island Review

Return to Monkey Island is the adventure game equivalent of Spider-Man: No Way Home. No, wait, don’t go! Hear me out: most will agree that No Way Home is an excellent, very entertaining movie – even for a kid who’s never seen Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man. But if you’ve done those cinematic memories with the Peter Parkers of the past, No Way Home explores something more: nostalgia, even evoking genuine emotions at various points.

Returning to Monkey Island, which is very remarkable to bring series author Ron Gilbert back to the director’s chair of the franchise for the first time in 30 years, is also a similar trip. It’s a funny, beautiful, polished and well-paced story packed with lots of puzzles that are both fun and challenging for anyone who appreciates a good adventure game. And Return wisely offers “Guybrush’s Scrapbook” in the main menu, as a fun, visual way to recap previous Monkey Island games narrated by Guybrush. But for people like me, for whom the first Monkey Island games were a formative part of our gaming youth, this reunion with pirate Guybrush Threepwood feels like coming home. Finally, I love the no-nonsense Quiz Cards scattered around many scenes, testing your knowledge of the franchise.

The most obvious difference that makes Return to Monkey Island compared to its predecessors is in the art style. Gilbert could have gone the pixel art route to pick some lower nostalgia fruit, but he went with a much bolder modern look instead. I’ll admit: I didn’t love it when I first saw it. It was a jarring start to my favorite games, but then again, so did the first post-Gilbert Monkey Island game, Curse of Monkey Island, which used a Disney cartoon-like style. that I love. Return’s art direction is more abstract, but somewhere over the course of 11 hours I finished the story that I fell in love with. It uses a large range of color palettes, and its top character design fits very well with Monkey Island’s sense of humour.

Exciting music can easily fool you into thinking you’re still in 1991.

But while you’d never confuse Return to Monkey Island with any other game in the series, the delightful music can easily fool you into thinking you’re still in 1991. Composers Michael Land and Peter McConnell are back with another exciting Caribbean soundtrack, and it has a long way to go to make this feel like a true return to Monkey Island. The same goes for the voice cast, played by Dominic Armato as Guybrush Threepwood, who brings a blunt, restrained sensibility to a game filled with often absurd situations, despite him. don’t be afraid to add a bit of irony when situations arise. call it. Everyone in this world knows Guybrush is a well-meaning mess, but they can’t help but root for this hopeless underdog and befriend him. Armato’s performance was a big reason why I felt that way; there’s an innocence that Guybrush shines through.

And what’s the plot? Return is set right after Monkey Island 2, but it’s framed in a clever way that I didn’t expect. That showed me a new side of Monkey Island: its big heart, which quickly becomes apparent in the playable Prologue that I won’t spoil here, and is constantly recalled in transparent. Its overarching story involves – what else – the quest for the Secret of Monkey Island, and that quest revolves around Guybrush’s never-ending rivalry with zombie-pirate villain LeChuck , and their love triangle with Elaine Marley. In fact, Return haunts the underlying mystery far more than any of its previous installments, and it’s played with repetitive comedic effect. Our decades of wondering if Gilbert will ever reveal the real Secret of Monkey Island is reflected in the game, with even Guybrush’s wife, Elaine, pondering why his heroic We continue to cling to it. In the process, it will revisit familiar places like Melee Island and of course Monkey Island, and take us to new places; as well as it also brings back familiar faces (like Murray!) and introduces a bunch of new characters. Say hello to Locke Smith, who you’ll visit a few times and who knows well that her name is a play on words.

Confused happiness

An excellent story and memorable characters are only half of the classic puzzle game equation: the rest is a series of puzzles that are both difficult and satisfying to solve, which serve as the foundation of the game. Any amazing point and click adventure. Return supports them enthusiastically here, always including a comedy theme that runs through the traditional question of which item you should use on which person or position at each turn. Puzzles are more of a dopamine hit than ever, and the 2022 iteration of Monkey Island has learned to avoid the notoriously silly “adventure game logic” that often reminds people of the original in day.

The puzzle structures and solutions don’t really catch on new ground, but nothing so abstract that it makes me wonder how I came up with a solution once I did. And while nothing has let me down so much as to want to give up and try again later with a clear mind, I still get a little stuck at times, which is evident in these games – such as when I had to use an “apology frog” to win back the favor of the governor of Melee Island, Carla. So I used Guybrush’s always-available recommendation book here and there, and I quickly realized that I didn’t have to swallow my pride completely before using it. It’s a very welcome evolution of a feature first introduced in the series in LucasArts’ 2009 remake of Monkey Island 1 and 2, and it’s comfortable to use because it’s not just simple. as simple as using a guide. Instead, it gives you class-by-layer hints, propelling you in the right direction but maintaining the sense of satisfaction you get when you finally solve the puzzle on your own. In fact, only once did the book suggest something to me that I really didn’t want to know at the time. The new to-do list also helps you keep track of everything you’re currently trying to tackle without making you feel like you’re being led.

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