Tales of Monkey Island – Review
Follow Genre: graphic adventure, point and click
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: LucasArts, Lace-Mamba Global ltd.
Platform: PS3, PC, Wii, Mac

Tales of Monkey Island – Review

Site Score
8.6
Good: Unique chacters, interesting story
Bad: Camera angles are frustrating at times, apparently final installment in the franchise
User Score
9.5
(8 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.5/10 (8 votes cast)

Pirates have risen in popularity during the last decade. Be it real life pirates that threaten the trade routes off the coast of Somalia or silver screen pirates like Jack Sparrow. To add to the swashbuckling goodness, Telltale Games has come up with the fifth and final installation of the Monkey Island series. Will this game set sail to success or will it walk the plank? Tales_of_Monkey_Island-logo

Story:

“Guybrush, mighty pirate” (as he likes to call himself) has set sail to thwart the evil plans of his arch nemesis, the evil undead pirate LeChuck. LeChuck has our protagonist’s wife, the lovely Elaine Marley, captive and is about to sacrifice the thirteen monkeys of Montevideo. The only way of stopping the undead evildoer is by drenching the cursed Cutlass of Kaflu in enchanted root beer. Guybrush manages to find enchanted root beer aboard his ship, only to break the bottle. Not willing to give up, he boards the vessel of LeChuck. There he finds the ingredients to make root grog. While it seemed to be a good plan to substitute magical voodoo root beer with less magical root grog, it turns out to be a big mistake.
For when our sea-faring hero finally delivers the supposed to be fatal-stab to the undead pirate, it merely turns him human (or human-ish). This not only transfers LeChucks evil mojo (aptly called: pox of LeChuck) unto Guybrush, but also starts a chain of events that blow up the ship!
Guybrush gets cast away on Flotsam Island. There he awakens and not only finds that he has contracted LeChucks terrible disease but also realizes that his beloved Elaine is nowhere to be found! So he sets off to find his beloved and destroy LeChuck once and for all. Little does he know that his seemingly formulaic quest, to save the damsel in distress and vanquish the evildoer, will make him come face to face with the worst scum of the sea, the most dangerous pirate hunter and betrayal from those he least expects it!

At first one might think that the story of Tales of Monkey Island is as normal as everyday life. Well they are right, but on the other hand also wrong. Whereas the beginning and the end are your typical good versus evil/damsel in distress kind of thing, everything in between is not. Trying not to spoil too much, all that can be said is that the story contains more twists than a ship going at 500km/h (that would be around 269,97 knots). The comedic style, hides the seriousness of what is actually happening (PETA is probably cringing at the notion of 13 monkeys getting sacrificed). This is masterfully done! To draw some lines to another successful franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean also had a dark and (for me at least) heavy theme. People’s freedom was at stake, an evil force was threatening the world and all that stood between was a freedom loving, clumsy pirate. By no means does this mean that the story of Tales is the same, it merely accentuates that it is of the same caliber as POTC.

The characters are well designed and fleshed out, which makes them not only memorable, but also very likeable. At this point it is worthy to mention , that the personality design of the main characters are well executed. Guybrush seems like the typical carefree (as a matter of fact “naïve” would be more appropriate) hero, who survives most of his adventures because of sheer luck. His obliviousness to his surrounding or predicament, will surely irritate most (it sure did annoy me). But as the story progresses, the player discovers that there is more to him than just the funny lines and clumsy acts. There is some genuine concern for the safety of his wife, which will move even the most stoic of players. Even his acts, seemingly random, can later be attributed to actual planning. As the aforementioned hero qualities surface, so does the likeability of Guybrush rise.

Perhaps the only and only gripe that players would have with the story is the fact that it progresses only as fast as the player is good at puzzle solving. This might contribute to actually having a hard time remembering what is going on (akin to laying down a book for too long and picking it up again). But this is a given for most games, only that this game has a story that is really worth remembering.

tales-of-monkey-island-chapter-5-01Graphics:

For those looking for excellent realistic graphics, this game doesn’t have it. The developers stayed true to the original Monkey Island series and have just converted that style into 3D graphics. The animation style is reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons, that are (assuming they had a decent childhood) loved by everyone. This doesn’t mean that there is nothing special about the graphics.
Simplicity has always been dangerous in the ever-evolving gaming environment and often frowned upon.
What most don’t realize is that the secret lies not within complexity but rather in when to know to keep it simple. The characters are given life and personality, not by detailed facial expressions, but rather by clever design. As mentioned before, the characters are very unique and the design contributes to this greatly.

Perhaps the only minus point about the whole simplicity thing is, that the environments sometimes seem bland. This can be justified by the fact that having too much clutter on your screen might make some puzzles unnecessarily difficult.

flotsamtown

Sound:

When it comes to sound, Tales does a magnificent job in submerging you into the situation with its soundtrack. While the sound quality might be average at best, this is by no means an indicator of how well the soundtrack is. Every location in the world of Tales of Monkey Island has its own unique tune. These are not only very fitting (the first chapters of the game have a lighter sound track than later ones), but also very catchy. I personally find that the soundtrack does not distract the player from solving puzzles, it is subtle yet memorable. The voice acting is on the spot and there was never one moment where it felt like the lips were out of sync. Telltale managed to achieve this feat by making use of a lip sync system capable of large facial expressions.

Gameplay:

Seeing that this is a point- and- click game, getting to understand the controls is no issue at all. In fact one does immediately get to face LeChuck in the first chapter of the game and most will find that it is fairly easy to manage the controls.
You can either drag the cursor around to let Guybrush walk around. You can also make use of the directional keys or WASD controls. Perhaps it should be mentioned that while making use of the directional/WASD keys, they are in relation to the environment. For example: if Guybrush would be facing to the left and the player would press down or S, Guybrush would start facing the player instead of simply stepping backwards. It takes some time getting used to this, but yet again just a minor nuisance.

Items can be picked up by clicking on them, once they are picked up they will be visible in the item menu. Items can be used by dragging them out of the menu and pointing them towards intended target of use (for example if you want to strike LeChuck with a sword you have to drag the sword out of the menu and click on LeChuck). Current items in use are visible because of their icon that will replace the cursor.

The item menu is also a valuable tool when it comes to puzzle solving. Items can be further inspected by using the magnifying icon. They can also be combined by dragging two items into two special slots at the left side of the menu. While I am a fan of the latter, I find that the former could have been done more simple and effective. As to why game developers didn’t just use a simple click on the item for this, is a riddle. With that being said, there is no other reason for discontent when it comes to gameplay.

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Conclusion:

Tales of Monkey Island is like a bottle of good rum. It has plenty of character, a colorful history and it leaves a sweet aftertaste. Excellent story writing combined with memorable characters, make this game in my opinion a must- buy for those who love the franchise or simply just the genre. I recommend it even to non-fans of the genre or franchise. The simple game controls and relative short learning curb, make this game a solid option for everyone. There are a few minor imperfections here and there, but they are really just minor. As it stands did Telltale not only deliver a solid game, but also a very well told story. Like a maelstrom the game starts slowly at the edges, but as you get closer to the center the pace fastens and it’s harder to get out.

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Rating: 9.5/10 (8 votes cast)
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Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
Tales of Monkey Island - Review, 9.5 out of 10 based on 8 ratings

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