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A pirate existence for me!

When Return to Monkey Island was announced, longtime fans of the series were both excited and somewhat cautious. This was a revival of the franchise that fans had been waiting for, but some comments caused some concern and confusion. This was supposed to be a sequel to Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, but would also feature the other games in one form or another, and then there was the art style that left many with a bad taste in their mouths at first, and as a result, there was any anxiety.

However, after playing Return to Monkey Island, two things are clear. One is that the art style isn’t nearly as bad as claimed. Yes, the classic art style would have been great, especially with how Ron Gilbert already released a retraux point-and-click game titled Thimbleweed Park with a classic look, but this new art style actually looks excellent while playing the game. The other thing that was clear is that Ron Gilbert is a huge troll in the best possible way, especially regarding the game’s status as a sequel.

Return to Monkey Island is a true return to classic adventure gaming, with the best elements we loved returning. Puzzles, witty dialogue and excellent writing are all there, and as in The Curse of Monkey Island, there are two options to play, a mode with fewer puzzles and a mode with more puzzles. This is great for people who want to play but may be intimidated by the puzzles of an adventure game, but it’s also great for adding replay value a second time through the game.

Return to Monkey Island is playable on PC and consoles, with the game currently being a Nintendo Switch exclusive, and the console controls work flawlessly. You can use touchscreen controls to play like a classic point-and-click game or use stick and button controls that are smooth as butter and feel completely natural here. In fact, the controls are so good that this interface feels like a point-and-click adventure like Monkey Island was always meant to be played on console.

But is this a good new entry? Oh, very much, because Return to Monkey Island doesn’t just hit all the high notes, we’re used to it, but aren’t slavishly committed to the retro style and willing to try new things. The result is a return to classic adventure games in a new and modern style. Think of the best classic Lucasarts games, but with a lot more tools available to the developers to make something truly epic. We’ve got a new take on classic puzzles, new riffs on old jokes, and some brand new ways of storytelling. Apologies for not specifying more, but we don’t want to spoil the game and the puzzles are an essential part of the story.

One thing that can be mentioned is the inclusion of an in-game hint book to help you figure out what to do next. This is done to avoid players having to go online to look for solutions to puzzles they are stuck with and risk seeing spoilers. This even comes with a warning not to use it more than necessary as it is really important to experience the game for yourself.

There are also some great modern additions, such as quality of life improvements to the general formula in addition to the hint book mentioned above, as the game feels much more accessible than typical adventure games. There are also in-game achievements and the means to get one are really hilarious and in keeping with the Monkey Island tradition. The most important thing to mention is the incorporation of a Trivia Card collection system into the game which, while not required to complete the game, manages to bring a lot more content to players looking to get more out of an adventure game and it’s back on track. done in a welcome way.

So we’ve found that the controls are great and the gameplay fun, but what about the presentation? Well, as mentioned, the controversial art style actually looks really good during gameplay and the developers have managed to create situations that take full advantage of it. As for audio, the voice acting is great as always, and most of the cast has returned, except for some who have retired, and the music, something that has always been a highlight of the series, is excellent too.

There’s something else about the game and that’s the overall theme. This is a game about aging and facing a new generation that does things differently and shows that you still have what it takes to match the younger people. This is true both in-game with Guybrush’s adventure, and it seems to be true for Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman and his company, who have shown that Monkey Island is not only still relevant and fun, but they still have the job of not only just great adventure games, but great games.

This is why so many twists on classic ideas are presented as they are, to continue this theme to show what worked before, can still work now, even if it is in a different way. Characters in the game may now be feeling their age, but the experiences are still as exciting as ever, we just experience how the characters adapt to new changes. This even ties into the visual style and gameplay choices, as it shows that the game is both a return to a classic gameplay style, but in a more sophisticated way and with art that reflects the change.

Overall, Return To Monkey Island is a triumph of adventure games. It’s both a return to classic form and a great example of building on the foundations. This is the game Monkey Island fans have been waiting for and the wait has been well worth it. We highly recommend this.

Available on PC and Nintendo Switch

Rated on Nintendo Switch

All photos captured on Nintendo Switch hardware

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