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Tales of Monkey Island review

Tales of Monkey Island

Episode 5 - Rise of the Pirate God

Please note…if you haven’t played the previous episodes in the series, this review will contain some spoilers.

Back from the dead


The penultimate episode in the first series of the Tales of Monkey Island series left us with a number of unanswered questions. Could LeChuck finally have got the better of Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate? Is Guybrush really dead? How are the Voodoo lady and LeChuck involved? The final episode certainly answers those questions and more.

Rise of the Pirate God starts off at the gravestone of Guybrush Threepwood, a small dog sniffing around. A hand appears from the mound of dirt and gradually Guybrush works his way out. Guybrush though, isn’t his normal self. He has in fact been vanquished by LeChuck, who has garnered the power of La Esponja Grande to make himself a demonic pirate god. With his belongings gone (except for ‘a shred of life’ and ‘dirt’), it is up to Guybrush to find a way out of the crossroads of the afterlife. He soon learns that LeChuck had previously escaped the crossroads using a voodoo recipe, which Guybrush decides he must find, so that he too, can return to the land of the living. Unfortunately, things in the land of the living don’t go as Guybrush would have liked, when his beloved Elaine becomes LeChuck’s demon bride.

Timing is everything


The puzzles in Rise of the Pirate God are quite varied in difficulty degree. There are certain puzzles where you pick up an object and it immediately comes clear how you are required to use it, whereas other puzzles are just plain frustrating. There are the standard fetch puzzles, including collecting the ingredients to LeChuck’s voodoo recipe, and these are fairly straightforward. The puzzles that required traveling between the afterlife and the land of the living though, required a bit more legwork. This may certainly have been because the brainteasers were more difficult and not knowing exactly where to go.

The final timed puzzle was the most frustrating puzzle of the whole season. The puzzle requires certain actions to be completed in a short time frame. If the action isn’t completed in the allotted time frame, then Guybrush is thrown from one scene to the next until he is back to square one. Whilst figuring out the solution, going from point to point can get wearisome. I certainly hope that Telltale leaves similar timed-event puzzles out of future installments.

There’s even zombies


But apart from the frustration at that one major puzzle, the game is a joy to play. The visuals are slightly darker and less cheery (except at the conclusion of the game) than previous episodes, but this fits in well with the locations and the story. The locations too, are more varied than in previous episodes which without doubt helped to keep the game interesting despite the fact that there was plenty of walking back and forth to the locations. Indeed, a number of locations had been visited in past episodes, but were used sparingly.

Although the locations may have changed, the characters remained basically the same. During the course of the chapter, Guybrush takes on several forms. His initial form as a ghostly spirit is done extremely well. Of course, a number of new characters were added to this installment, but none of them are overly important to the overall story. The game is filled with return characters, such as the Merfolk, Bugeye and Judge Grindstump, essentially combining the episodes together. One new character that may play a future role could be the loveable dog, Franklin. After all, which pirate couldn’t use a hand (or paws) to dig up buried treasure?

It’s pronounced Espon-ha, not Espon-ja


The game is filled with in-jokes (Winslow and his map obsession, the name of the unnamed voodoo lady), references to pop-culture (including a “mostly dead” Princess Bride reference - classic), and even has the Monkey Island favorite – Insult Sword Fighting (as well as this series’ adaptation, Pirate Face-Off). The humor in the series has certainly continued to improve and the season climax certainly upped the ante.

As with the humor, the audio has also improved as the series has gone along. Although the voice acting has been great in previous episodes, the final improved a notch. Maybe it was the great one-liners. The music too, continues to set a high standard. The melodies just seemed to fit the scenes perfectly.

With the completion of Rise of the Pirate God, the first series comes to a close. Will there be a second series? I’m not sure, but there seems to be an indication in the ending that would suggest there is more to come. Telltale Games have proven themselves to be quite good at producing quality adventure games with the likes of Sam & Max, Strong Bad and of course, Tales of Monkey Island, and I am eagerly awaiting their next project. In the meantime, I may just head back to Episode 1 and start this adventure all over again.
Fun score 7.0

Pros

The return of insult sword fighting – Monkey Island fans rejoice

Cons

The final timed-puzzle can be frustrating, having to repeat things over again and again if you don’t do an action in the timeframe allowed.

Game Screenshots