We’ve seen the revival of plenty of gaming icons over the last few years, but nothing feels better to me than seeing Guybrush Threepwood grace my screen once more. Return to Monkey Island marks the long overdue comeback of the Monkey Island franchise, bringing with it the original creator Ron Gilbert as he continues the adventures that first begun in the early 90s. Yes, there have been other releases in the series over the years since, but this is considered the true ‘third’ entry and carries directly on from the conclusion of the second game, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge.
It’s a WHOLE lot of fun too, with it capturing the vibe of the original games perfectly with its witty writing, complex conundrums, and wondrous sense of Pirate-themed charm. Returning players will undoubtedly appreciate it the most, but even newcomers will be able to enjoy the return of this point-and-click adventure great.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Return to Monkey Island sees Guybrush Threepwood returning to his adventuring ways as he looks to form a crew to embark to Monkey Island in order to uncover its secrets. Sounds familiar, right? Well, it turns out things have taken quite a turn since the first two games, with Melee Island less welcoming to the old-school pirate and instead embracing a new younger generation led by the Captain Madison. There’s only one solution then, and, surprise-surprise, it involves a certain zombie pirate named LeChuck. What happens next? Well, you’ll have to find that out for yourself.
The storytelling of Return to Monkey Island is wonderful, with Guybrush Threepwood and the supporting cast proving as lovable as ever as they embark on another adventure. There are plenty of throwbacks to the older games to be found (both with the jokes and the characters you meet), whilst the clever writing ensures each bizarre situation Guybrush finds himself in will leave players giggling. It’s just easy to get completely absorbed into the tale, with the series’ sense of humour certainly standing the test of time over the past thirty years.
Whilst there are plenty of nods to previous games that returning players are sure to love, newcomers won’t be left completely alienated. Sure, there will be some moments that they won’t be able to appreciate quite as much, but the game ensures that the storytelling caters for those who’d never even heard of Guybrush Threepwood before. Best of all, it’s possible to recount all of the previous stories in the Monkey Island franchise (including those after the first two) before playing, so you can find out pretty much EVERYTHING about Guybrush, his wacky misadventures, and the friends (and enemies) he made along the way. It’s not a necessity, but it’s a nice addition that will pull newcomers straight into the loop.
“The excellent blend of clever design and complexity ensure that the puzzles remain a treat to solve, whilst the in-game hint system ensures players of different skill levels will never be out of their depth.”
When it comes to the gameplay, Return to Monkey Island offers a refreshing blend of the old-school puzzling but with modern refinements. It feels great to play on the Nintendo Switch too, with players able to freely walk around with Guybrush by using the left stick, whilst using the shoulder buttons to flick through interactions. Alternatively, you can use touch controls, making it easier to interact with objects or sift through your inventory of items with a few quick taps.
It’s easy and convenient to play without a mouse, whilst the simplifying of interactions means that you won’t have to perform needless actions to solve puzzles; gone are the verb-based forms of interactions of yesteryear, with Return to Monkey Island instead allowing gamers to only perform the actions that they NEED to. It streamlines the experience in an effective way that makes puzzles that bit easier to solve, all whilst eliminating the need to click everything in the environment and hope for the best (come on, we’ve all done it). It feels good and shows the progress point-and-click adventures have made in becoming controller-friendly.
Whilst the puzzles are easier from a UI-basis, they still require an anarchic sense of logic to solve – and I mean that in the best way possible. The first two games were renowned for having players use all sorts of different items in often bizarre ways to complete puzzles, but there was always a clever sense of thinking to the process that made sense. The same applies here, with Return to Monkey Island giving players plenty of enigmas that’ll really leave them scratching their head, but never in a frustrating way. Sure, there were times where I was completely clueless as to what I needed to do, but all it took was thinking things through in the way that the game WANTED me to in order to succeed. It might sound strange, but it’s a hallmark of the point-and-click adventuring that players need to embrace themselves in the oddness of the world… that’s certainly the case here.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Thankfully, the excellent blend of clever design and complexity ensure that the puzzles remain a treat to solve, whilst the in-game hint system ensures players of different skill levels will never be out of their depth. Whether you require a subtle clue as to what you need to do or just the full solution, Return to Monkey Island will never leave you in the dark (or quickly looking up GameFAQs on your phone). The only real issue with the puzzle-solving was that it could be easy to find yourself traversing all corners of Melee Island just to come up with one small solution, with backtracking common in the game. It’s something returning gamers would have already done plenty of in the first two games so they’ll be used to it, but newbies might find it a little less endearing.
With the brilliant writing and puzzle-design on full show, it’s easy to see Return to Monkey Island as a true return to the series’ roots. However, it does have one change that makes it feel different to previous entries: the visuals. Gone is the old-school aesthetic, with it now replaced with something more modern (and at times more peculiar) in design. It was something that I wasn’t sure I liked when the game was originally revealed (I’m a sucker for old-school), but after playing through the whole adventure and seeing all of its wondrous sights, I loved it. The animation looks fluid in motion, the world and its characters are rich with detail and vibrancy, and, most importantly, it still manages to retain the charming vibe of the original game. I was unsure of the aesthetic when I first started playing, but by the end I was completely sold on it… this is how a Monkey Island game SHOULD look in 2022.
Return to Monkey Island Review
Return to Monkey Island is an absolute triumph, with the excellent storytelling, clever puzzles, and wonderful visuals making this a glorious return for Guybrush Threepwood. Returning fans will love all of the little nods to the previous games throughout the world, whilst new players won’t feel out of the loop thanks to the re-telling of the older adventures and how they tie into this sequel.
Add to that that the modernised control scheme, the streamlined UI, as well as the generous hint system, and it’ll be easy to see that Return to Monkey Island truly is a modern point-and-click adventure great that feels befitting of the series’ legendary stature.
Developer: Terrible Toybox
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC