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I have some history with the Monkey Island franchise. I played through and loved the first two Monkey Island games back during the ancient days and even purchased them on the iTunes App Store (but never got around to really replaying them). I know I played the 3rd game, The Curse of Monkey Island back in the late 90s, but I don't think I ever finished it. I have no memory of ever playing the 4th and 5th games (Escape from Monkey Island and Tales of Monkey Island).

When I found out creator Ron Gilbert was returning to the franchise with the sixth game Return to Monkey Island, I was excited to give it a go.

I was honestly a bit underwhelmed, maybe I expected too much. I think the game pretty much lives up to what the series originally was and that's fine. Maybe my tastes have moved on. As a story-driven game, the plot is simple and ridiculous and the humor and tone were fine, but I think I just wanted something more than what I've already seen before. The puzzles are still challenging and I found myself stuck quite a few times. I shamelessly admit I had to Google my way out of being stuck a few times.

A lot of the puzzle solving is either trying out inventory items to see if they can work in certain places or wandering around to previously visited areas trying to see if you missed something, which is how it was in the olden days! I think a lot of these puzzles depend on a level of obtuseness that probably won't be appreciated by many modern gamers. As a concession to modern gamers, there is an in-game hint book this time around (I never used it) and you can even play on a "casual" difficulty with easier puzzles for accessibility purposes.

I do like the new, simplified interface of context sensitive mouse clicks (no more verbs to click, etc), but I was disappointed with the lack of insult sword-fighting in the game. I think that was one of my favorite parts of the earlier games, though I can see why it might be challenging to adapt to modern sensibilities.

The new art style got some pushback when it was first revealed, but as a stylistic choice I think it's fine and a good reminder to not take the game too seriously.

The game's story takes off from the the second game's fairly controversial ending and manages to pull it off, which is quite a feat. (As I recall the writers of the third game simply handwaved away that nonsense ending). Despite pulling that off, they had the audacity to


do it again for this game's ending

and honestly, hats off to Ron Gilbert for that.

There is an in-game set of trivia cards, covering the series entire history. Normally I would love this sort of thing, but collecting and answering all of them is such a chore (they drop randomly and you need to answer for completion!) and honestly the only reason I did not manage to go for completion in this game. I played the game for 16 hours and only found and answered 34 trivia cards, I did not have the patience to try to spawn the rest of them for completion. It's not like I can answer most of them anyway. HLTB says average completion time for this game is 17hrs, but I think it would have taken me and additional 3-4 hours to collect the remaining trivia cards I need. This implies I already spent too much time being stuck in the game proper, which is 100% true.

Overall, I did enjoy playing through the game and seeing many of the characters return and be fully voiced this time (Stan's voice is great!) and Guybrush and Elaine are such a cute couple, so maybe that makes it all worth while.

Edit: I forgot that I have a video of me playing through the start of the game:

(Click photos to view full-size)

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Return To Monkey Island 04_04_2023 4_46_38 pm.png
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Return To Monkey Island 12_03_2023 12_35_22 am.png
Wed, April 5, 2023, 12:39 p.m. / / blog / #games / Syndicated: mastodon twitter / 💬 2 / 665 words

Last modified at: April 10, 2023, 7:48 a.m. Source file

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games Return to Monkey Island (PC Game Pass) Apr 05 2023 3.5


Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m also a MI nut, the series left a big impression on me as a teenager. The Special Editions that came out in the 2010s did already come with full voice acting, there’s a patch that extracts those sound files to use them in the original DOS VGA ones if you’re in that kind of thing (which of course I am).

Roy Tang said...

Oh, I think the iOS versions I got a while back were already the special editions, but I never got into them too much so maybe I just forgot they were already voiced