Return to Monkey Island review: a treasure trove of nostalgia 🐔

King Guybrush is back. 32 years after the first adventures of Lord Chicken, Monkey Island has not yet revealed all its secrets.

We weren’t expecting it anymore. Announced last April, Return to Monkey Island had the effect of a cannonball among the players. After more than a decade of absence, a war of rights and sequels not really hailed by critics, Guybrush Threepwood is back, determined to unlock the last secret of Monkey Island. An unexpected sixth game, for a reunion as sweet as the sea breeze.

The Threepwood Legacy

From the first minutes of Return to Monkey Island, Ron Gilbert sets up an unexpected setting: a seedy amusement park, three kids out and about… the era of piracy seems far away for Guybrush Threepwood. The pirate has traded in his saber for a quieter life, but has lost none of his talent for telling stories. By catapulting his character into a timeless tutorial, the game skillfully manages to create a bridge between past and present. The new wave is here, and the next generation is assured.

© Lucasfilm Games

In three decades of adventures, the ineffable Guybrush has experienced many adventures, but he has also built his legend. It is moreover through these notions of inheritance and transmission that is articulated Return to Monkey Island. The game does not hesitate to play the fan service card, skillfully juggling between easter-eggs and self-quotes. True declaration of love to one of his most illustrious characters, Ron Gilbert even goes so far as to dedicate a museum to the glory of his exploits… but where the filibuster’s name never appears. The visual and narrative references are numerous, the players of the first hour will be able to relive with emotion certain cult scenes of the license. Far from feeling the warmed grog, this return to Monkey Island reminds us of the good memories of the character, for a reunion that we no longer hoped for.

Return to monkey island sonm dialogue
© Lucasfilm Games

Guybrush’s new adventures on the island of Mêlée may offer an air of deja-vu, yet they are anchored in a very different time frame. The setting is familiar, but the city bears little resemblance to the one we left in the early 2000s after Escape from Monkey Island. Only the pirate and his inimitable ponytail have remained the same. The world has had all the time to evolve. In three decades, the paunchy pirates have given way to the new generation. The Scumm Bar has become an almost respectable establishment, and even the terrible ghost pirate LeChuck now offers the services of a communication consultant.

Return to monkey island Lechuck 2
© Lucasfilm Games

overwhelmed by a world that changes faster than himGuybrush Threepwood stands out as the faithful double of a Ron Gilbert overwhelmed by the breadth of his work. If you have followed the adventures of this sixth installment, you know that the developer has come a long way. Following the success of the first two parts, the creator of the saga leaves the ship. The episodes The Curse of Monkey Island (1997), Escape from Monkey Island (2000) then Tales of Monkey Island (2009) will be done without the original team, and will not meet the critical success of yesteryear. After fighting for years to recover the rights to its license from Disney, the return to Monkey Island was to offer a second wind to the license. A difficult weight to bear for the developer. In the age of social networks, critics on Return to Monkey Island will have been right for the patience of Ron Gilbert, to the point of pushing the developer to no longer want to speak on the subject. The Internet is an ocean of hate, which even the fiercest of hackers cannot face without leaving a few feathers behind.

Oh, a three-headed monkey!

The narrative talents of Ron Gilbert are no longer to be proven. Back in the golden age of point’n click, Guybrush and his makeshift companions are a assumed parody of bombastic pirate epics. Savagery and honor are slashed with great cowardice and contests of insults. The absurd oozes even in the moldy holds of LeChuck, and if the character’s romantic quest to steal the heart of the beautiful Elaine is no longer relevant, it is to another of his loves that the pirate will turn. tackle.

Return to monkey island Lechuck
© Lucasfilm Games

Surrounded by his original team, Ron Gilbert is betting on a recipe that has already proven itself. Without denying his ancestors – or even the latest opuses which are readily cited in the pirate’s illustrated album – the creator of Monkey Island surrounds itself with its historic co-screenwriter Dave Grossman, who juggles with quirky lines and the absurd humor that made the golden age of the saga, to which we must now invite nostalgia. The dialogues are incisive, the insults devastating. More than the secret of Monkey Island, Return to Monkey Island lingers above all on the innumerable superfluous detours of the trip to make us relive the great hours of point’n click.

The reunion of Lord Chicken

Return to Monkey Island Although it is (very) largely based on the nostalgia that it instills in each of its scenes, the game nevertheless offers itself a successful passage to modernity. Unlike Guybrush, Elaine, LeChuck, Murray, and even Lady Voodoo have had time to evolve along with the years. The point’n click codes are still there, but take advantage dynamic animations and better readability of commands.

Who says modernity also says visual overhaul. Gone are the clusters of pixels that smack of the sea air and the 1990s, Guybrush’s new head is surprising. However, once the astonishment of the first scene passed, the bias of Ron Gilbert reminds us to order: yes it changes, but the result is damn successful. Carried by a masterful soundtrack by Michael Landwho also signs his big return to the saga, the new adventures of Guybrush Threepwood once again succeed in scuttling our hearts.

In addition to gaining in playing comfort, Return to Monkey Island gives pride of place to budding pirates, who would need a little help for their first boarding. With two difficulty levels and an integrated (but optional) help system, the game proves that modernity is often good. Let the purists be reassured, this arm-skeleton reaching out to the new generation is not synonymous with simplicity. The puzzles remain just as wacky and tasty. On this point in particular, Ron Gilbert has lost nothing of his superb, and multiplies the absurd finds and the associations of twisted ideas to solve the many puzzles of the island of Mêlée.

Return to monkey island melee
© Lucasfilm Games

To this joyful anything is added a good number of collectibles intended to make the adventure even tastier. We particularly appreciate the unlockable successes and the quiz cards that punctuate the gameplay. Only disappointment finally: the absence of dubbing in French. The original version is far from being bad, but the memory of Paolo Domingo’s dubbing still reminds us of the good memories of this dear Guybrush.

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