"Itís rarely a chore to play through. The short length helps that, and the restrictive nature of the game world and its neatly intertwined objectives only contributes to the tightness. It raises plenty of smiles. But when itís essentially becoming the same episode stuck on repeat ad nauseum, how much praise is it reasonable to lavish?"
Since the summer, Guybrush Threepwood has turned his spectral arch enemy into a living human, unleashed and been infected by a terrible pox, had his hand sliced off, been repeatedly attacked by a sassy pirate hunter, been eaten by a giant manatee and double-crossed like heck. Some mighty pirate. And so begins his latest adventure, on trial on Floatsam Island and framed for a variety of side-splitting crimes. Itís a good job the prison guard canít get his head around the fact that, just because Threepwoodís defending himself, it doesnít mean heís actually two separate people.
Threepwood remains witty, pirate hunter Morgan LeFlay retains a surprising amount of humanity, and the remainder of the supporting cast do a decent job at playing the numskull nutters that the series has always portrayed so well. Each of Telltaleís Monkey Island efforts seems to ramp the humour up ever more so. Weíre now at the point where Tales of Monkey Island has far surpassed the original incarnations in the comedy stakes. If you think otherwise, go back and play them. And take off those rose-tinted specs. You look ridiculous.
Itís true that each episode, taken entirely in isolation, seems to be marginally improving the formula every time. The script gets barmier, the locations tighter, the objectives more fluid. But these arenít isolated games. These are part of a five-strong series of monthly outings, and now, as we near the finale, things are starting to wear a little thin.
You may have noticed this review is a little late. Thatís because I played The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood a couple of weeks ago, and have been struggling with an angle ever since. Itís a solid adventure game. The puzzles are functional, though often uninspired and recycled from earlier games. The characters are well developed, with consistent and endearing personalities. The settings are... well, theyíre ones weíve seen before, only this time itís dark... Had this game been bundled into the context of the first episode, the series would have made an impossibly brilliant start. But it wasnít. This is Episode 4. And it screams out for something fresh.
Itís rarely a chore to play through. The short length helps that, and the restrictive nature of the game world and its neatly intertwined objectives only contributes to the tightness. It raises plenty of smiles. But when itís essentially becoming the same episode stuck on repeat ad nauseum, how much praise is it reasonable to lavish?
Thereís just nothing that stands out as truly inspired, nothing that leaves an impression for more than a few hours after youíve completed the game. Itís a decent few hours of entertainment, but not an adventure youíll be talking about for months in the way that, say, Machinarium will surely be. Monkey Island remains about as traditional as itís possible to get. Thatís fine, but stick rigidly to that formula month after month after month, and youíd better have some spectacular little ideas to mix things up.
The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood has far too few of these. It also has a perplexing graphical glitch that renders a characterís shirt with big purple splodges all over it Ė something to do with the light-mapping having not worked properly, I believe, from my limited technical knowledge. When the gameís as by-numbers as it already is, big screaming problems like this one only solidify the negative image it exudes.
Freelance review by Lewis Denby (November 17, 2009)
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