Review: Return To Monkey Island - A Flawless Reminder For An Adventure Gaming Icon

Review: Return To Monkey Island – A Flawless Reminder For An Adventure Gaming Icon

In 1990, Ron Gilbert created the seminal point-and-click adventure The Secret of Monkey Island. He grabbed hearts and hasn’t let go for 32 years. In 1991, he concluded Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge on an explosive cliffhanger. In 1992 he left Lucasarts, and the secret third part of his trilogy went down in legend as a sunken ship. Fan communities have theorized and fantasized for a few decades about where the story might have gone, desperately seeking confirmation from Gilbert or his colleagues.

In 2013, Gilbert wrote, “I always envisioned the game as a trilogy” – a trilogy he could only achieve with “total control over what [he] was doing and the only way to do that is to own it. In 2015 he wrote, “Monkey Island is now owned by Disney and they have shown no desire to sell me the IP.” The fans’ last breath What if? was suffocated. He lamented April Fool’s Day every year on his blog, proudly remaining “Free Fool’s Day” for 18 years. He once tweeted, “If I ever manage to create another Monkey Island, I’ll announce it on April 1.”

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On April Fool’s Day 2022, Ron Gilbert joked, “I’ve decided to make another Monkey Island.”

And here we are. To say that Return to Monkey Island is highly anticipated fails to capture the mental and emotional pilgrimage of aging gamers who were whisked away as children to the shores of Booty Island by a pair of smirking demonic eyes. It’s a event gameand perhaps the only event game imaginable in what is – despite some bright lights scattered over the decades – a frustrating genre.

But what is this “return”? Back to the past: retrograde fan service for 40-somethings? A return to commercial interests: Monkey Island watered down to accommodate later sequels of dubious canonicity? Or could it be… perhaps…a return to form for the graphic adventure genre – back when you didn’t know what point-and-click would do next and were captivated by what it did?

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Terrible Toybox, under the direction of Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman, set out to deliver something new, but at the same time the whole game is punctuated by musings on “What is is the secret of monkey island? – the rallying cry of giant ape heads around the world. We are invited to join Guybrush in side expeditions both for the Secret™ of the game and for a greater, transcendental secrecy of what exactly we’ve been yearning for all these years, and whether either ever existed. .

It is immediately clarified that Return will rely on its history. The title screen menu directs players to an album that provides an overview of the story so far. This politely covers all Monkey Island games, but it’s clear which ones take priority. Monkey Islands 1 and 2 enjoy a glorious multi-page narrative through images painted in Return’s new art style, with each loop lovingly styled. The Curse of Monkey Island gets a tidy distribution of high-level plot points… and there were two more games.

The most hypersensitive Monkey Island fan will sense a little selective respect for post-Gilbert works. It may have been our imagination, but sweet little digs are made in the directions the story was taken, with particular interest in how Elaine Marley was portrayed. When Guybrush returns to the image of Elaine frozen in a statue in The Curse of Monkey Island, his remark that LeChuck “considers her like furniture” could easily be addressed to the writers of this third game. that the Elaine of the first two games never needed to be saved by Guybrush. It’s ironic that Gilbert and co-writer Dave Grossman have to work to save her here.

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Despite all this looking back at the series so far, Return to Monkey Island is incredibly fresh. He owns the nostalgia that surrounds him and weaves it confidently into the fabric of his story. New characters abound that immediately captured our hearts – friends and foes alike – and the grand scale of adventure allows space to bask in reimagined versions of familiar locations, while conjuring up tons of new locations full of mystery. and pleasure. The jokes and ubiquitous silly seriousness are fresher than they’ve been since 1991, picking the right moments to recall classic lines, but not making them the main attraction. The new art style speaks for itself and is gorgeous in motion – and, of course, is also harvested for metafictional jokes. The variety of perspectives on the action, the depth of the settings, and the tantalizing complexity of the characters’ little worlds are remarkable.

But the biggest triumph is probably the new interface, which provides the framework for every aspect of the game to come together in a rich player experience. On Switch, it’s with direct joystick control from Guybrush, using ‘R’ and ‘L’ to highlight interactive elements and cycle through them. This provides the exploratory experience of hovering over the landscape – the first joy of reaching a new area. In a sense of graphical adventure, there are no “verbs” – no selectable on-screen action types to apply to objects in the world. However, in a more general sense, verbs are infinite. Where some modern graphic adventures have reduced all interactions to “doing thing to thing”, Return to Monkey Island displays text to show what a button press will do. So instead of always seeing “Walk to…”, “Pick up…”, “Talk to…”, “Look…” etc., Guybrush can “Brave…”, “Fly…”, “Clear the air with… ”, “Congratulate the excellent…” etc. This is treated as another play space for writers – a place for more jokes, surprises, and rewards for progress.

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The combination of graphics, writing, excellent voice work, new ideas and joyful reworkings of music across this interface is sublime. There is a strong sense of authorial control over the entire experience, all coming together to deliver a cohesive vision – a story of fun, adventure, deliverance and sentimentality, played out through carefully crafted puzzles. and inspiring, intertwined with sets and asides that made us laugh.

Considering the depth of the fans’ well of passion, it would have been absurd for Return to Monkey Island not to draw on it. Given the specific claims for Ron Gilbert’s tracking to his first two games, it would have been absurd not to play this. Similarly, it would be absurd to blame him for the addiction of this game to its roots. Yeah, people who aren’t longtime fans of the first two games will be have a great time with Return to Monkey Island, but Terrible Toybox has harnessed the incredible storytelling potential of fan fervor to deliver something rare and spectacular to those in the bullseye of the target audience. If that’s you, go ahead and add a point to the score below.

Maybe Return finally found a way to exist thanks to the multimedia craze of the remake as a genre, but if so, it had no bearing on the game: it’s designed with a total integrity and a contagious joy that sparkles in every scene.


Return to Monkey Island reaches into your heart, rips out your desire to know THE SECRET and squeezes it in front of your face. As hard as it is to admit that The Secret of Monkey Island™ was always a McGuffin, it’s nerve-wracking to imagine that your 30-year longing for the Monkey Island 3 could be the same thing. Delighting as you tremble, Return presents a phenomenal point-and-click adventure to your pierced gaze, seething with passion and fun. Along the way, you will painfully hope for the big reveal – and then…

#Review #Return #Monkey #Island #Flawless #Reminder #Adventure #Gaming #Icon

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