Return to Monkey Island, the review: rogue nostalgia

We return to the legendary Monkey Island in Return to Monkey Island, the new chapter of the saga born thirty years ago. Here’s how it went.

Thirteen years have passed since the last release of the Monkey Island series, an old-fashioned point and click graphic adventure, and fans have long been waiting for a sequel. Return to Monkey Island is canonically the sixth installment of the saga and the Terrible Toybox team is led by the original creator, Ron Gilbert. Dave Grossman returns as a co-writer to unravel the secret of Monkey Island, which has never been solved in all of the previous five titles.

Writers weren’t the only ones returning. The protagonist Guybrush Threepwood is here again with his adventurer wife Elaine and the ever-angry ghostly antagonist LeChuck. The old puzzles are back, as are the witty dialogue sequences and insult sword fighting, which is exactly what it sounds like – an insulting battle. Not everything has remained the same, though. The team has clearly put a lot of effort into updating the series for the 21st century, which makes sense if you think the first episode is over thirty years old.

Return to Monkey Island has an art direction – an aspect the series has never feared changing from chapter to chapter in the past – fascinating and all new. The game retains the Monkey Island feel, but puts retro pixel art behind it that hasn’t aged particularly well. This is not to say that the original style was bad but, in a point and click adventure where you scan each scene for clues, the clarity of the objects is at least necessary. This lighter style is much appreciated.

Some things never change –

Despite this technical change, other elements have remained unchanged. The original composers are back with a soundtrack, which feels both new and strangely nostalgic. The voice actors of Guybrush, Elaine and Murray the Talking Skull are back and, while LeChuck’s (Earl Boen) voice has retired, Jess Harnell is a more than adequate replacement.

Return to Monkey Island

Some attempts have been made to update the puzzles. The original is known for some obtuse puzzle solutions, but this was partly due to the fact that the video games of the time had to extend their length beyond the limits imposed by the memory of the old platforms. There are now two modes: a casual mode, for those who mostly want to enjoy the story, and a hard mode, for those who enjoy the obtuse puzzles of the original more. There is also a book of hints, in both difficulties, which allows you to know which are the necessary steps to move forward, in case you get lost.

The difficulty –

The problem here is that the casual difficulty starts to get a bit heavy when it comes to getting to the next part of the story. Guybrush writes everything on his to-do-list, making the game feel like it’s your day off, with the fridge empty and the laundry basket overflowing. We understand the desire to make puzzles easier in a genre that has fallen out of the mainstream but, with the hint book, it seems like the main hook of the game has been removed in the name of brevity.

Return to Monkey Island

However, Return to Monkey Island isn’t short. Other than the puzzles, what made the series so popular, in the first place, was the story. It is set in a tropical paradise full of bizarre and unexpected humor, and swashbuckling pirates. It has always been a series that has blown all player expectations, which can be clearly seen in the way it overturned the damsel-in-distress trope in the original chapters.

There is something wrong –

This sixth iteration fails to do the same. There are still lines that break the fourth wall, which is much appreciated, but the writing lacks the acumen of the old episodes. And it seems the developers already knew that. Not only is there a button to skip dialogs in the game, but you are still forced to acknowledge its existence in the tutorial.

Return to Monkey Island

In a point and click adventure, you always expect a lot of backtracking, but you always hope not to spend too much time trapped in loops of already read and heard dialogue. Return to Monkey Island doesn’t clearly mark which dialogue is new and old, which means you’ll just have to keep chatting with everyone and hear the same lines of dialogue, over and over. This doesn’t respect your time. Tim Schafer’s absence seems to have lost the heart of the series: without his unique writing style, Monkey Island is just as competent point and click as many others.

Return to Monkey Island, the verdict –

That doesn’t mean there’s no room for this game. Gilbert has always had an innate ability to perfect a smooth and cohesive playing structure, without relying on fillers to lengthen the stock, and that still holds true today. There are also predictable lures for the nostalgic, with many references to the old releases of the saga. However, pointing the old games and making us remember how funny some of those scenes were is not comical in itself. Return to Monkey Island really needed something new and unique to shine with its own light.

Return to Monkey Island

Despite all this, it is still a good point and click adventure. Nothing less was expected of some of the best developers committed to the genre. If it did not have the name of Monkey Island, we have the impression that it would have been unanimously praised. However, it has “Monkey Island” written on its forehead. We’re back on mysterious Monkey Island, but we haven’t returned to the place we once knew: it has changed, aged, yet stubbornly refuses to carve out its niche. Here, you already know what to expect.

Written by Georgina Young for GLHF

Source link

About Alex Marcell

He likes dogs, pizza and popcorn. Already a fanboy of Nintendo and Sony, but today throws anything. He has collaborated on sites and magazines such as GameBlast, Nintendo World, Hero and Portal Pop, but today is dedicated exclusively to Spark Chronicles.

Check Also

here are three things you didn’t know …

The first PlayStation turns 27 in our country and Sony brushes up the memory of …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.