The beloved adventure game franchise Monkey Island set sail on a new episodic journey earlier this year and has recently come into port with its fifth and final episode. Tales of Monkey Island chronicles the further adventures of Guybrush Threepwood--Mighty Pirate--as he pursues his often-imperiled wife, Elaine, and tries to vanquish his nemesis, LeChuck. Yet this tale is no heroic cliche, and it takes some amusing twists and unconventional turns. The relationships between lead characters are the engaging heart of the story, while the supporting cast and wacky environments provide ample opportunity for humor. This is a funny game, and though there are some lulls in the otherwise lively pace, the clever puzzles and the playful ways you have to go about solving them will keep you entertained for the duration. Tales of Monkey Island is a lengthy adventure that's easy to enjoy and easy on your wallet, as well as sure to please both newcomers and veteran insult swordfighters alike.
6213074NoneGuybrush enlists some simian aid to help him escape the clutches of the maniacal Marquis.
The first episode, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, starts off where you might expect an adventure game to end, with you (as Guybrush) poised to deal the killing blow to LeChuck and rescue Elaine. Naturally, things don't quite work out as planned, and this sets the tone for the adventure to come. Tales of Monkey Island doesn't stick to predictable conventions, and it doesn't resort to merely flipping these conventions on their heads. It puts a whole different spin on things, creating adventurous and refreshingly odd situations. Yet the game doesn't get bogged down in weirdness or whimsy and continues at a good clip from episode to episode. The story moves nicely among brisk action sequences, thoughtful puzzle wrangling, and expository cutscenes. Though there is occasional downtime, and the first episode feels a bit like taxiing out of the harbor, Tales of Monkey Island cuts through the water at a good pace, keeping you interested and amused throughout the 15-to-20-hour adventure.
Yet it's not just the strange situations you find yourself in that make the game so engaging but the people that populate this whimsical Caribbean. The lead characters are clear standouts because they have fleshed-out personalities and interesting relationships. Guybrush is a goofy hero who would just as soon chew gum stuck on a window ledge as pull out his sword, and it's impressive that his well-meaning-yet-somewhat-bungling heroism shtick never really gets old. Elaine is much more on the ball, and her spirited independence and occasional exasperation with her husband are sweetly countenanced by her steadfast love for him. The evolution of Guybrush's relationship with Morgan LeFlay from The Siege of Spinner Cay (Ep. 2) through Rise of the Pirate God (Ep. 5) is another emotional (and comical) high point, and LeChuck's personality overhaul is a clever inversion of his traditionally evil role. The superb voice acting and great dialogue bring these and other characters to life remarkably well. Although the lead characters are definitely more interesting, even the assorted pirates, brigands, and lawyers you come across have a spark of personality.