January 27th, 2010, 12:05 Posted By: RedXIV
Developer: Telltale Games
Tales of Monkey Island: Bringing Point-and-Click back.
Before people read this, I must confess a personal bias. I personally loved all the other Monkey Island games and the prospect of reviewing a game that was to continue such a favoured series was hugely appealing to me. I will try and keep this review unbiased but on a last note before I begin, if you haven’t played the other Monkey Island games and you enjoy this title, it’s definitely worth the purchase.
Tales of Monkey Island is the newest instalment of the immensely popular Point-and-Click adventure series from Lucas Arts. You play as Guybrush Threepwood, a “mighty pirate”, who prefers to use his head instead of his cutlass to solve any of life’s difficulties. In previous instalments of the series we have learned that he has a steady and persistent cast, for example, his wife Elaine Threepwood, a pirate far more at home with violence, the Voodoo Lady, Guybrush’s guide in this world (and the next) and the fearsome LeChuck, Guybrush’s nemesis. Tales of Monkey Island has entered a new realm of distribution however, offering the game in five chapters, all downloadable straight to your PC. In each of these chapters, Guybrush must face mind stretching puzzles and use whatever is available to him to proceed along his quest.
The gameplay is simplistic with the cursor lighting up as you roll over interactive objects and their names popping up to identify them and movement is controlled by holding the left mouse button down and dragging it in the direction you want Guybrush to walk in. This takes a little while to get used to but becomes second nature very quickly. Then you have the inventory of the items which you steal, borrow, pillage, earn and find throughout the game to aid you in your quest. The only other interaction you control is how you hold a conversation. This simplistic system is just what the game needs as, with every other game in the series, the best part about Monkey Island is the humour and wit. This is exactly the kind of game that you can use to just whittle away hours from a tough day with little input from you. The series is famed for the classic one-liners that is sprouted by the characters, with Guybrush taking center stage as one of the most likable character to be created in the digital realm. The only thing that worries me about this is that some of the jokes are derived from the previous instalments and this may take away some of the charm for newcomers to the series.
The graphics are simply beautiful with the world captured in the playful style that the story is portrayed in and they reflect the idea that the game is something to be enjoyed at your pleasure rather than mind-blowing special effects to keep your adrenaline high. The characters all have very definite styles and while the lip synching is nowhere near perfect (or even close for that matter) we can get definite bursts of identifiable emotion when they are portrayed.
The audio in the game is one of my favourite aspects. The cast have been excellently selected to compliment the physical nature and personality of their respective characters. Dominic Armato (Guybrush) in particular does an amazing job portraying the Caribbean’s most endearing pirate. The music, while sometimes over the top, does the job of getting the scene’s temperament just right. In the frequent scenes of battle between Guybrush and LeChuck, we get ominous tones which still have a playful air to them, cementing the idea that the game is still just out to make you laugh.
The chapters can be purchased separately or altogether as a pack and from my experience, it took me about 3 hours to complete a chapter, apart from chapter four which, in my mind was the trickiest. Which leads me to the one flaw I found with this game. Once again, alot of the puzzles will make sense when you sit down and really think about it but some of them are simply bizarre and unless you’re somewhat used to the tricks that LucasArts like to use in these games, I can’t see people figuring them out themselves. That said, it did feel slightly easier than the earlier games but I still would expect a newcomer to be searching for a walkthrough by chapter two.
Finishing up here, I still think the Monkey Island series are a solid gaming experience that everyone should try at least once. I know the humour might not appeal to everyone but for the life of me I can’t think who. Best thing about this game is you can buy the first chapter on it’s own if you want to try it. And I’d recommend you all do that.
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