Thirty years of waiting they are long, very long, especially if during this one we entertained ourselves with something that, despite not bearing the same name, does not have the same charisma, the same creators, or more simply the same quality behind it. Return to Monkey Island it is exactly the title that all longtime fans have been waiting for, from the longest running to those who have discovered the old chapters during this long period. Lucasfilm Games e terrible toy box, the studio headed by none other than Ron Gilbert in person, they have the honor and the burden to continue the saga in a canonical way, assisted by the leading publisher in the field of independent titles Devolver Digital. The legendary saga continues, and next to Gilbert we also find Dave Grossman, who also worked with him in the creation of the first two Monkey Islands (the only absent of the magical trio is Tim Schafer, currently busy with his personal projects). The introductions for the title that needs no introduction have come to an end, so it's time to finally discover Return to Monkey Island in our review.
Without hiding behind a finger, it is quite obvious that much of what has been put into the pot is for a clear "Nostalgia operation", and that's fine. We are talking about the sequel to historical milestones, whose fans have now grown and matured, col time that has passed not only for them, but also for the technology, and also for the new way of dealing with comedy. Some interpretations have changed, the approach has changed, the standards have changed, and in all we must also add that this title wants - and must - also interface with a much younger type of audience (or that at least has recovered and enjoyed the old chapters).
An apparently very complicated mission, which nevertheless seems to have been completed successfully. However, I strongly emphasize that the mass of easter eggs, quotes and references to the old games it is mammoth, and a good refresher is therefore recommended of them before embarking on this adventure.
The secret, but the secret secret!
Taking us by surprise to say the least, Return to Monkey Island opens up in front of us with a prologue / tutorial who deliberately and kindly tries to deceive us with obvious references to… something that we will let you discover for yourself. The real adventure to find the secret of Monkey Island begins immediately after the prologue, and will see us start with the good old Melee Island, where things have changed a lot since our last visit, including the governor and the trio of pirate leaders. Here Guybrush Threepwood, our long-time protagonist, will immediately learn that his nemesis is the hour pirate ghost zombie LeChuck, is setting up a crew to reach Monkey Island and steal his secret. It is not clear whether out of spite or fate, but the objectives of the two pirates will coincide again. So Guybrush will look for a ship on the island in every way, and will try again to form a crew to set sail. Will he make it? You will discover the answer by playing.
The modern classic
Following in the footsteps of the most modern point and click, definitively abandoning the SCUMM (not the bar, that's still there! Ed), from a playful point of view, Return to Monkey Island is streamlined to a minimum, not only automatically suggesting two one or two dialogue options directly when pointing the mouse at a character, but also greatly simplifying inventory. In fact, the objects can be used simply by selecting them and moving them to the point of interest of the seabed, and within the inventory it will be possible to combine them or analyze them (visual or commented analysis). L'drying of the mechanics has cut a lot of what would now be considered decidedly superfluous, such as for example the number of active or analysable points on the seabed has been drastically reduced, as well as the try and error on a practical level has been almost completely canceled because a “stop” symbol will tell us directly that an object is not usable on something before even clicking.
This simplification philosophy, inevitably, it also contaminated the puzzles of the game: if we were to make - and we must - a comparison with the old chapters, the difference in difficulty between the two is really great, with this Return to Monkey Island which is hands down undoubtedly the easiest of the series. This does not happen only for the intelligibility of the puzzles (just a couple of carelessness can make you lose the thread and slow down), but also because as is happening more and more often, in the game there is also a book that can give us suggestions, which can even go so far as to give us the solution of the required riddle and unlock us. Let's add that at the beginning of the game we will also be able to choose to play a simpler mode where the puzzles are simplified and reduced to a minimum, and the picture will be complete. This is certainly not going to ruin the experience, mind you, but it could in a sense disappoint the lovers of challenges who were expecting bread for their teeth at Monkey Island 2, or even at Thimbleweed Park staying on the Gilbert theme. Finally, the subdivision of the game into 5 parts (6 with prelude), which combined with the various changes of scenery helps to achieve a longevity worthy of today's games without forcing.
Art and took part
If you have followed the history of the game since its announcement, the storm of insults and criticisms towards the look and feel of the game, which abandons the cel shading of Curse, the pixel art of the first two chapters, and also the more purely “videogame” style of the two Special Editions. Using the artistic style of Rex Crowley, already famous for Tearaway, the series therefore acquires an unprecedented aspect, which without beating about the bush has blown away the fans… even before playing the game or actually seeing everything in action. No mistake could be more serious.
Honestly, this stylistic choice has also displaced those who write to you, but luckily I have seen fit to give hasty opinions, because Return to Monkey Island is nothing short of exquisite to the eye. Of course, it could be unusual or sometimes out of tune (for example on maps), but everything else - and believe me - the rest took on a very pleasant aspect, which despite being different from the previous ones made us hit in the face by melancholy at the sight of certain places. or characters.
The only thing that, perhaps, could in a sense mancare, is it detachment between the comic and the serious. Let me explain: much of the comedy of the series was in the fact that in terms of graphics everything was recreated to recall the "realistic", which with the bizarre comedy of the situations and of some aspects in particular, created a contrast that was it same comedy. In the case of this last chapter the detachment fails, and the kind of comedy we get from Gilbert and Grossmann is exactly what we expect from the graphics. We reassure you, however, because we reiterate that the art work was excellent.
Diary of a longtime pirate
Last but not least, it is right to devote a small part to the melancholy aspect of the game, which as we said at the beginning of the review is one of the focal points of Return to Monkey Island. Throughout the adventure, in addition to following the events and making new acquaintances, you will be literally submerged from references, quotes, encounters, objects, mechanics, and similar situations to past video games of the series, a real one love letter to fans. The amazing thing is the way all of this has been consistently reshaped and built with the story we are living together with Guybrush (and not only). What if you want to compete with yourself? No fear! Because Gilbert also thought of this.
At the beginning of the game you will find a empty card album to fill, cards that you will find scattered around the various game backgrounds. Simple collectibles? No! A great quizzes, with each card will represent one question different to which we can respond when we want. The questions concern not only Return to Monkey Island, but the rest of the titles in the series as well! A nice way to test both our memory and our melancholy affection for the saga. Be careful not to make mistakes though! Otherwise the card will be destroyed. Finding them all and answering the questions can turn out to be a pleasant pastime, a completely optional break between one puzzle and another.
We close the review by talking about the audio sector of Return to Monkey Island, which incorporates some of the items that we had the pleasure of listening to in the Special Editions, with Dominic Armed in pole position in the role of Guybrush. The level of the dubbing it's great, and all the characters, old and new, have been characterized to the fullest. Also there colonna sonora it stands at great levels, despite the fact that on balance it is able to leave less "the footprint" compared to the main theme of MI2, for example. Fitting, pleasant, and with some "galvanizing" flash that never hurts.Review
- Return to Monkey Island (Tested on PC) 8.5 Final grade
Approaching a game like this, with such an enormous historical and emotional weight, is certainly difficult for all players, a situation where hope and fear come together in a single, very justifiable magone. Fortunately for our joy, Return to Monkey Island is a little gem, which despite the decidedly subdued difficulty is played in an absolutely pleasant way, and with a story that manages to captivate us right away. The gameplay has adapted to the most modern players, drying some more cumbersome mechanics, oiling where a lubricant was needed. The humor is not lacking, not even the quotes, and artistically it turned out to be very pleasant. The rest are only sterile stances ...