Well, Monkey Island fans, the time has finally come. The first season of the recently-revived classic series comes to an end this month, bringing about bittersweet feelings for many of its followers. Over the last several months, Telltale Games has tickled our funny bones and tested our intellects with the hit series that has had folks working their way through hairy situations with the ingenuity and sly wit of Guybrush Threepwood. As this first season concludes, there is likely to be a number of questions… Just how good is the last installment? Is it a fitting end? Does Guybrush ever learn the meaning of “rue”? Find the answers to these and more in our Tales of Monkey Island 5 review.
Spoiler Alert: Go! Gaming Giant does what it can to provide in-depth reviews without spoiling any parts of the plot. However, with an episode game like this, adequately discussing the storyline without revealing certain plot points is nearly impossible. If you have not yet played Episode 4 of the series, it is advised that you skip over the next paragraph.
Having been run through by the still-evil LeChuck, this latest episode starts up with Guybrush crawling out of his grave and finding himself in the afterlife as a ghost of his former self. Armed with only a Shred of Life and a pocket full of dirt, it is up to the Mighty Pirate™ to somehow find a way to navigate through the afterlife, outsmart the guardians of the pirate heavens, create a rip in reality to communicate with the living world, reunite with his rotting corpse, defeat the evil once-again voodoo zombie ghost LeChuck, and free the lovely Elaine from demonic wedlock. And with any luck, he just might expand his vocabulary along the way.
After the somber turn taken in the latter segments of the previous episode, many were worried about the direction that would be taken with this conclusion. Being a series that prides itself in providing laugh after laugh, it makes sense that changing this format to a more serious one would be a cause for concern. While Rise of the Pirate God is indeed a bit more serious than usual, it does so naturally and to a much lesser extent than Episode 4. The jokes aren’t so constant as episodes such as Lair of the Leviathan, but they are high quality and usually hit right on the mark. And we all know what they say about quality over quantity. I didn’t laugh as much, but I laughed harder.
Everyone likes Monkey Island for different reasons, so there is no way to really agree on which episode is the best. However, it is safe to say that Rise of the Pirate God is probably the most well-rounded of the bunch. It uses familiar aspects of the previous games and uses them all in moderation so you are able to get a little bit of everything without it feeling forced. Hopefully most players enjoy the series for its story because the last installment is very story-driven in a good way. While the characters remain zany and quirky as ever, they are given more depth and become easier to relate to than before.
Unfortunately, this strong focus on story causes the puzzles to suffer somewhat. For at least the first half of the game, the puzzles are significantly easier than other. If you’ve been paying attention to the logic so far, most of the game will be a breeze. When the puzzles do become more challenging, they also become more frustrating thanks to the types of puzzles presented. Episode 5 features what is probably the biggest map of all—featuring several locations in the afterlife and the world of the living—and you will be doing a lot of backtracking through it, which isn’t particularly exciting. Also frustrating is the fact that you are faced with several long and involved time-based puzzles, most of which require going through a few times in order to figure out.
This is the only issue I saw with the gameplay. However, because many of the puzzles in the first half or so are quite easy, the game’s length suffers somewhat. While most of the games generally take as long as four hours to complete, Rise of the Pirate God can easily be completed in less than three hours without the use of guides or walkthroughs. Perhaps this was due in part to me playing all of the games in close proximity to each other and I have grown accustomed to the puzzle style, but I think it is fair to assume that most people will finish this one faster than any of the previous episodes. All the while, I have to wonder if the short length is what allowed the story to have more quality and less filler.
As great as the story was, it still had a few questionable moments. I won’t spoil anything, but I was slightly disappointed that rather than explaining certain things, the characters merely accepted them. One small example is Elaine’s reasoning for giving Guybrush her ring a few episodes back. Things like that were somewhat irksome, but thankfully, these moments are few and most loose ends are tied up by the end of the story. The biggest loose end for me was tackled after the credits and while it provided me with a sense of closure, it also left things open enough to justify a second season, which I am sure I am not alone in hoping will surface sometime next year if at all.
Rise of the Pirate God has a few minor gameplay issues and it is shorter than it should have been, but it is a very solid game with fantastic storytelling and clever dialog. A satisfying conclusion to a fun-filled season, the finale is an action-packed tale of hilarity and intrigue that wraps almost everything up. We get some closure, but enough plot points are left open to ensure the possibility of an increased lifespan for the series. I can’t guarantee everyone’s enjoyment, but as far as the story goes, I think this is easily the best episode. And the way the game pokes fun at itself and its limitations had me laughing heartily on a regular basis. It may not be as long as it should have been and there isn’t a lot of replayability for most people, but it is definitely worth the money and will have no problem finding its way into the hearts of Monkey Island who are in need of some pirate-y goodness.
And no, Guybrush still doesn’t know what “rue” means.
- Excellent story-telling that never feels forced.
- Quality humor that doesn’t have to resort to crudeness.
- Great conclusion to a fun-filled season.
- Many puzzles may be considered too easy.
- Backtracking and timed puzzles are frustrating at times.
- Seems to be shorter than the rest of the season.
- Random Fact:
- According to writer Mark Darin, Tales of Monkey Island is the most successful Telltale franchise to date, and deservedly so.
Tales of Monkey Island: Rise of the Pirate God was developed by Telltale Games and and published by Telltale Games and LucasArts. It was released for PC on December 8, 2009. A Nintendo WiiWare release is soon to follow.