The long-awaited sequel Return to Monkey Island is heading to Xbox Game Pass after debuting a few months back on PC and Switch. Ron Gilbert returns to lead a team in attempting to recapture the magic of the old SCUMM Engine classics. Have they succeeded? Yes! Let’s dig into how they pulled it off.
The game starts off with you controlling Boybrush, son of Guybrush and Elaine, in a cute and funny tutorial section. Soon though you’re back into our “hero’s” memories as Guybrush Threepwood tells the tale of when he finally found the Secret of Monkey Island. For fans of the original series and new players alike, there is just enough backstory and exposition to get you caught up if need be, alongside a healthy dose of callbacks to tickle you right in the nostalgia bone. In the end, the story is all about the cost of chasing one’s obsessions and how you can lose sight of that which truly matters.
Old enemies like LeChuck are back along with new ones like the vicious Captain Madison. Throughout my 9 or so hours in the story, I laughed more than I had in a video game than I can ever remember. The writing and voice acting really is spectacular and carry the game. A lot has been made about the graphical styling, but I love it. Everything is highly stylized with deeply saturated colors. Playing through on first on PC it ran at an extremely high framerate and the animations were smooth as butter. The same held through for my time on a Series X. My favorite parts were the cuts to high detailed zoom-ins a ’la Ren & Stimpy cartoons.
Hint Books Rule
The best part of Return to Monkey Island for me is the hint book. I played on casual mode because I don’t hate myself. This offers up a handy hint book that helps you when the game forgets logical solutions for a second. At first hints are nice and vague and simply point you in the right direction. Only a few times did I need to keep asking for specific solutions which is a massive improvement from the days of Discworld and having no clue how to get the monkey it’s gosh darned BANANA. From what I can tell there is no way to fail any objective or die in the game outside of purposefully leaving Guybrush in the ocean during the game’s few underwater segments which is a big plus for me!
It’s your typical point-and-click adventure with tons of dialogue which is all spoken. If you prefer the old-school style you can turn off the narration and just have text or use both as I did for the video review. The music is excellent, hitting all the tones I remember from the first two games while adding depth to each scene. It’s never in the way or overly cutesy and I could sit on the main menu screen all day listening to it with a big dumb grin on my face.
Performance-wise on PC, it’s extremely stable and I had zero bugs or issues. You’re given a large number of save slots to use and loading is extremely fast, in the milliseconds every time. I’d say my only issue with the game is the large amount of backtracking you need to do, though I know that’s a staple of the genre, and how a few of the puzzle solutions felt off compared to most.
Return to Monkey Island is great. It takes the adventure game to new heights of hilarity with a clever narrative, fantastic stylized graphics, wonderful music, and a huge amount of heart.
|Reviewed on||*Xbox Series X, PC|
|Available on||Switch, PC, Xbox, PlayStation|
|Release Date||November 8th, 2022 on Xbox|
|Rated||T for Teen|