Return to Monkey Island Review
Return to Monkey Island is the follow up to 1991’s Monkey Island 2, that’s right 31 years later we got the follow up to the cliffhanger ending of Monkey Island 2.
For those of us old enough to remember and appreciate it. Legendary point and click game creator Ron Gilbert (Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Thimbleweed Park) had always wanted to continue to work on the series he created however when Disney bought Lucas Arts he no longer had access to the IP. Over the years he continued to work on gaming, until he finally had the opportunity to make the right connections with folks to get access back to the license and was able to work on Return to Monkey Island.
A game that surprisingly was worked on in secret, he told no one outside of the people working on it that it even existed. The game had been in development since 2020 even being worked on during COVID-19 remotely. Thankfully Disney was willing to work with him to allow him to make the game his team wanted to make and have the creative freedom they desired.
The plot picks up right where Monkey Island 2 left off with Guybrush’s son Boybrush is playing around with his friend at an amusement park, recreating his father’s legendary adventures. After some prompting from the boys Guybrush decides to tell them the tale of how he found the secret of Monkey Island.
Having learned that his former (and still nemisis) LeChuck has a map to direct them directly to the secret, Guybrush decides he needs to stop them, however the heads of the new pirates refuse his plea for help, so he has no other choice but to infiltrate LeChuck’s crew to stop them once and for all.
Now for those not familiar this game plays just like all point and click adventure games, where you collect items, solve puzzles and often have to use items in weird placed to proceed. Well, none of that has changed for Return to Monkey Island.
It’s all there in its glory. It can take a bit to get used to if playing with a controller for sure, but anyone who played Thimbleweed Part in the past couple of years shouldn’t have any problems with it. But if you can play on PC, I think it was meant for it primarily, but don’t let it discourage you. Obviously, this is a Monkey Island for 2022, so gone are the pixelated graphics which are now swapped out for some snazzy more hand drawn art style which is very cool and still fits the vibe of what Monkey Island is all about honestly.
The game still keeps its hilarious writing style and doesn’t hold anything back. Taking jabs at Gen-z, keeping 4th wall breaking (since a majority of the cast is back for this adventure commenting on things from 25+ years ago and so forth. The puzzle solving is a little more straightforward than the confusing games of old, but not too easy. There is an easy mode that makes the puzzles easier and focuses more on the narrative for those interested. But if you played the other games in the series, you really shouldn’t have any problem with this one.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable experience, with a great tale to weave from a masterful team of developers who genuinely love the product they put out. It’s as every bit as masterful as Thimbleweed Park but with updated graphic style and a little more flair. But every bit as sharp witted and hilarious fun to play through. This may not bring too many newcomers to the series, however as a player of the original games, this was a welcomed delight as a distraction from all the Call of Duty and Battle Royales for once. It’s just another reminder that the point and click formula should never die and when it’s done right, it’s a joy to play through.