Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 3: The Lair of the Leviathan: review

Now going into the third chapter of their foray into the world of Monkey Island, you’d expect Telltale games to have hit their stride and have started delivering upon the promise of an episodic version of the classic series. In some ways that’s exactly what they’ve done. Generally the dialogue, script, voice acting and characterisation throughout the series has been of a pretty good standard. But episode 3 steps it up notch. The cast of characters you meet in the episode are colourful, well written and entertaining. The dialogue is pitched at the right level of wacky humour for the series. This is without a doubt Monkey Island, carrying the spirit of the classic games on with gusto and panache.

Highlights of the episode include the return of Murray the demonic talking skull, who as far as talking skulls go is right there at the top of the pile (only Planescape Torment’s Morte can hold a candle to him). In fact throughout this episode you get a sense of fan service, as though Telltale are intent on rewarding Monkey Island veterans for sticking with them. With nods towards our hero’s ‘mighty’ reputation, towards the infamous Scummengine and puzzles which fondly recall our previous pirate exploits. For instance one of the episode’s key puzzles revolves around engaging in a ‘face-off’ with a mouthy adversary, which involves pulling ridiculous pirate faces that you have to collect and combine in order to win. If you fail to raise a smile at some of the more ridiculous offerings you can create, your heart is probably made of stone. But more importantly, the puzzle brings to mind what went before it, with pirate insult sword-fighting instantly springing to mind. The episode succeeds completely in inhabiting the Monkey Islandverse.

Ahhhhhaaaaaaa is a bit of an understatement.

Ahhhhhaaaaaaa is a bit of an understatement.

Telltale have managed to create interesting dynamics between characters too. New girl Morgan De Slay flits between psychotic and rather charming, even hinting at a possible romance between her and Guybrush as they are pushed into posing as a couple. The only misstep in terms of characterisation this episode is the introduction of one of those ‘duuude’ surfer types. The kind that were in fashion mid 90’s and subsequently had all of the humour squeezed out of them via populating pretty much every game and film released at the time.

So, the characters and dialogue for Episode 3 are all pretty much pitch perfect, but ‘what about the puzzles!?!!?’ I hear you cry. Well there’s some good news and some bad news on that front. The good news is that on the whole the puzzles are entertaining, such as the aforementioned ‘face-off’ puzzle. The bad news is that nearly all the puzzles are very very easy. So much so that even persons of dubious intellect and failing logic such as ourselves were able to breeze through most of them without any trouble.

Ahh..that old adventure game staple of unconscious girl molestation.

Ahh..that old adventure game staple of unconscious girl molestation.

One slight annoyance for Lair of the Leviathan is the story. Not the story of the episode itself, because it’s well told and engaging, but rather where the episode fits in to the series as a whole. Nearly the entire episode feels like a detour from what Guybrush was supposed to be doing in the first place. For those of us who were waiting on the cliffhanger from The Siege of Spinner Cay, it feels a little bit like a sit-com. You know the kind, where at the end of the episode, after all the silly lines are said and punchlines hit everything returns to the way it was before.

But perhaps that’s point of Monkey Island anyway, the story is just an excuse to engage in ridiculous pirate competitions and solve amusing puzzles, whilst talking to unhinged lunatics. If you go into this episode looking for the plot to thicken, you may come out disappointed. But for the demonic talking skull fans among you, it’s a treat.

4/5

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Written by Michael J

Michael is a self proclaimed PC gaming fanatic and is equally at home with all genres, bar platformers and puzzle games. Except Bejeweled, he's awesome at that. Seriously, he is totally like second on his Facebook Bejeweled leaderboard. And they said he'd never amount to anything...

2 comments

  1. Pidgeridoo /

    Insult Sword Fighting Yeys!! I Love This Game!! Pirates … Arrgh M’Heartys!!

  2. KrazyFace /

    Hush yar puss, ye wee scally-wag above I’s!!! It’s been ages since I’ve seen a Monkey Island game, I might just put this on my Wii soon. It would be cool if they put some of the earlier ones up on the Virtual Console too.

    …and none of yar barnacles go stealin’ mah personal pine leg ya hear!

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