Telltale Games is probably the only publisher in the world right now that can consistently deliver quality adventure game titles. They are also one of the only companies that manage to follow through when it says that its games are going to be episodic in nature, pumping them out on a monthly basis until the story arch is done. Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal fits perfectly into Telltales already amazing line up of titles with its quick wit and ease of play.
Tales starts off as Guybrush Threepwood finishes a grand adventure to finally vanquish his long time rival LeChuck. Most grand adventures Threepwood has had over the decade since the last game are hinted at, but never fully discussed beyond how amazing they were. This is probably one of the game’s greatest assets; how self aware and willing to make fun of itself it is. While the plan to foil LeChuck doesn’t go quiet right, it does manage to launch Threepwood into an entirely new adventure instead.
The gameplay itself is pretty standard point and click fair, pick up object in the environment and click on other objects with them to see if anything happens. Interestingly enough, Guybrush doesn’t move around the environment by clicking on something have having him run towards it, but instead by using the WASD and arrows keys to move him around. At first, this is kind of annoying as it breaks the conventions of the other interface that Telltale has used up to this point, but after some time spent with the controls they started to make more sense and turned out to be easier to use. Hopefully this will carry over to the next Sam and Max.
Most of the puzzles in the game are pretty straightforward as well. That isn’t to say that they aren’t the same insane cartoon logic that other adventure games have had in the past, just that they have found a nice balance between solvable and humorous. Happily, all of the puzzles in the world seem to fit and their solutions even though they can be a little nutty.
Even if the player does become stuck, there is the ever present Telltale guide to fall back on. This isn’t the best example of previous guides that the company has done, but it is still easy enough to find the current puzzle and solution within. Still it is rather awesome that the company took the time to guide stuck players through the game instead of letting them search the internet for fan made walkthroughs.
Besides the spot on humor, the best part of the Monkey Island is the voice acting. While some of the jokes are only funny the first several times that you hear them, as they are normally repeated when an object cannot interact with another object (the U-tube comes to mind), most of the jokes are presented well. It is kind of annoying that subtitles are defaulted to off in the main menu though, as some of the jokes come out in such quick succession that they can be easily missed without them.
Strangely, this is the first Telltale episodic game that can only be bought by the entire season. Most of the other games done by them were purchased episode by episode, but sadly if you are interested in buying Tales of Monkey Island, the only way to go about it is to purchase the entire season of content. It isn’t that this is bad, as all of the Telltale games have been amazing quality, and it makes almost no sense to purchase them episode by episode as they end up being vastly more expensive that way. Still it is a little odd that the entire game must be purchased all at once, especially now since only one episode has been released.
With all of that in consideration, Monkey Island is an amazing purchase. From the spot on comic humor, to the amazing voice acting, everything adds up to a worthy investment. For those that played the old games, there are enough in jokes to make this game feel like the long lost continuation of a beloved series, and for those new they are downplayed enough that you won’t feel like anything is going over your head. Although the single choice pricing structure on this release is a little odd it is still worth every cent, as long as the other games hold up to this amazing standard.