Recently, some popular video game series are celebrating comebacks - not all have succeeded. With Monkey Island, the prerequisites for success seemed to be right: the original developers of the first two adventure parts are responsible for the implementation. What can possibly go wrong? The new look for example, right?

Video games don't usually age very well. Many a retro game from back then is hardly worth a pixel today. And the sometimes almost forgotten brands no longer exude their old charm. But Monkey Island? Serious?! This will definitely be an exception. Exactly!

Monkey Island: 30 years is (not) old

Guybrush Threepwood and his friends are more than 30 years old. The bad guy LeChuck doesn't look any better. When The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge came out, they were highlights of their years. Real Pearls. Excellent quality click adventurer. The two titles still have their fans today – so connoisseurs from back then wanted nothing less than a return to the good old days for the comeback. Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman obviously had different ideas about a real successor. You don't just feel that, you can see it too: the graphic style is completely different - more Paper Mario than Monkey Island. It wasn't well received by everyone in the scene. There was even a real stink on social media. But that was before Return to Monkey Island was released.

Cheerfulness has now replaced skepticism. Yes, you have to come to terms with the new look first, but once you have done that, the new part of the Monkey Island series is at least as good as its predecessors. In some cases, the creators even succeed in raising the gaming experience to a new level thanks to their experience and progress in game development. With all the adjustments that Return to Monkey Island brings with it, one thing hasn't changed with the first click, even in 30 years: the typical Monkey Island feeling.

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There is mystery on the "monkey island". Image: Devolver Digital

A lot of laughs are part of it, sometimes a shake of the head and frustration at some of the puzzles - that was the case then and it is the case today. Return to Monkey Island is Monkey Island at its finest. At this point, a well-intentioned piece of advice (it's actually an order!): Stay away from the "Book of Hints" - this helps in tricky situations, but also takes away a good portion of the challenge from the game. You should only use the game help in extreme emergencies, because the adventure can also be managed without it. 

Those who know the predecessors will also pick up the first sequel to the series in around 13 years, everyone else will need some time to warm up to the characters and the story of the cult adventure game. This is mainly due to the many bizarre moments that make fans of the series smile, but sometimes leave the uninitiated at a loss. Be that as it may: the humor ignites, even if you may never have heard of Guybrush and LeChuck before.  

Back to "Monkey Island"

The narrative structure is a highlight of the game: Return to Monkey Island is a flashback. Ultimately, players take the father-son story back to Melee Island, the location of the first series in 1991. The Mission: Find the true secret of Monkey Island. Connoisseurs know: LeChuck - Guybrush Threepwood's nemesis - tried it too. There shouldn't be any more spoilers about the story and its twists and surprises at this point. One could go far and positively emphasize the subtle tricks based on the course of the game, but it would take away part of the fun factor. So that has to be enough: it is worth tackling the adventures on Monkey Island. As a newcomer because it's playfully fulfilling - as a veteran because familiarity is outstanding. 

Return to Monkey Island regularly delivers anecdotes and references to its predecessors. Hardly surprising, as nothing less than that was to be expected. 

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The locations are pretty, atmospheric, but sometimes lacking in detail. Image: Devolver Digital

Otherwise the game presents itself in a modernized way: polished graphics with an unusual style, which can however also be seen as a mix of various older Monkey Island styles; the sound is good, there is a pirate flair, and with a notebook even newcomers to the series can experience the adventures of yesteryear. Above all, fans will celebrate that.  

Return to Monkey Island is undoubtedly modern, but a true classic. The revisions are particularly noticeable when controlling with the mouse and keyboard. The look has also been modernized, but not necessarily the animation technology behind it. The simple movements are ultimately due to the small budget, you have to come to terms with it. The voice output, on the other hand, is simply wonderful, albeit in English alone. After all, German subtitles can be switched on, which is good for fans in this country. 

Return to Monkey Island is the usual slow-paced gaming experience. This is exactly what could bother modern gamers: Today it is often action-heavy, fast, sometimes wild. The new Monkey Island is the opposite. It develops, the story unravels at a leisurely pace, the puzzles require walking around - point & click has its heyday behind it, eke out a niche existence these days, even if many fans have always remained true to the genre. The focus has always been and still is the plot: it is terrific in Return to Monkey Island. There are sometimes problems with the trappings: animations are wooden, the surroundings are partly poor in detail, the transitions look like mothballs. Fans of the series know that, everyone else will be surprised. The fact is, however, that the plot, structure and gameplay of the new part are aimed at long-standing fans anyway. You won't be bothered by the flaws. 

When you're at that point, there's one more thing: almost limitless fun with the wit and charm of yesteryear.

A pirate life

Pirate life is long and full of adventures. Return to Monkey Island lets players experience stories about Monkey Island for the sixth time. With "The Secret of Monkey Island" the debut title came on the market in 1990, not without controversy. Today the game is considered a milestone in the history of video games as a whole and one of the best examples of point and click adventure. The follow-up title "LeChucks Revenge" hit a similar horn, in the end fans were confronted with a cliffhanger that has not yet been resolved. Because Ron Gilbert was no longer available as the author of the two original parts for the third series offshoot, the open end was simply ignored. Now, finally, there's the sequel to the sequel, which explains why the sixth part of Monkey Island is actually the third.  

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The graphic style takes some getting used to, but fits the series. Image: Devolver Digital

We also have to thank Disney at this point, because without the company's consent, Return to Monkey Island would probably not have existed - at least not in this great form with the participation of Gilbert and Grossman. The duo's story is clever, entertaining and works from start to finish - there are highlights and lowlights here and there in the gameplay. There are five chapters to complete, the fourth is what players should look forward to from the start. 

Return to Monkey Island was released on September 19th for PC and Nintendo Switch.

Infobox

Number of players: single player
Age: from 6 years
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: low
Genre: Adventure Games
Subgenre: Point and Click Adventure

Developer: Terrible Toybox
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2022
Platforms (Test system): PC, nintendo switch
Language: English (voice-over)/German (subtitles/texts)
Cost: 22,99 Euro 

 

Summary

After a 13-year hiatus, Return to Monkey Island feels refreshing: the story is superb. It's worth playing the title for that alone. However, the developers hardly allowed themselves any blunders in the gameplay either – on the contrary. The puzzles are mostly well designed, but overall the new part of the series is a bit too easy, at least for connoisseurs. The game series is far from being old-fashioned. The controls are well done and up to modern standards, the music is wonderful and the voice acting is also fantastic. However, there is one flaw: you only hear English. German players have to be content with localized texts. 

In the end, however, Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman made it again: fans in particular will celebrate the title. The developers shoveled tons of humor into the game. Return to Monkey Island is in no way inferior to its predecessors, even surpassing them thanks to modern tricks. And the humor is also different: silly, funny, bizarre, but sometimes also subtle along the border of what is still acceptable - you can literally feel how jokes and jokes have changed in society. 

The game is also officially the sixth installment in the series, but thankfully follows on from the 2 adventure Monkey Island 1991: LeChuck's Revenge. Brilliant! Towards the end, some of the momentum is lost, but the fourth chapter is a real feast.   

Once you get used to the style, nothing stands in the way of pure gaming pleasure. Yes, Return to Monkey Island is fan service first and foremost, but that's not a flaw. Because: you will only be able to experience the full fun factor if you know the predecessors. For beginners it means: Make up for it!

Last updated on 9.02.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API