Return to Monkey Island Review
The Secret of Monkey Island is a household name in point-and-click adventure games. First released in 1990, the game was written and directed by Ron Gilbert, and it became one of the genre’s greats due mainly to its storytelling and memorable cast.
While Monkey Island would release a number of games over the years, fans have long waited for a return that would see Guybrush Threepwood take on the lead role again. Nearly 30 years after Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, Gilbert opens up the treasure chest, giving the gaming world Return to Monkey Island.
Long-awaited is quite an understatement.
It’s been a long time since I last played any form of Monkey Island, long enough to have a very foggy memory of the events that went down during previous installments. Despite that, playing Return to Monkey Island was such a pleasant experience and a much-needed change of pace after other recently released titles.
It turns out, my worry was unfounded. Return to Monkey Island offered me a recap through an interactive scrapbook that will give both longtime fans and newcomers a refresher before the coming events. It’s an essential step, and even for the biggest fans, this retelling is a welcome addition to a release that’s almost 30 years in the making.
This latest installment tells the story of our hero, Guybrush Threepwood, as he seeks to return to Monkey Island (it’s literally the title) with ship and crew at hand. The meat of the game is in its fantastic story, so we’ll fully avoid talking about any part of it, but players can expect a wonderful time thanks to its biggest change – the overhauled visuals.
Prior to its release, there were furious discussions about the new art style of Return to Monkey Island. Some loved the refreshed look, some hated it, while some just wanted to play a new Monkey Island game. I loved the new look, and while I do understand the conversations about it, this was part of a modernization effort for the game that was a step in the right direction.
Other than looking snappy, Return to Monkey Island also feels snappy despite not revolutionizing its tried and tested formula. Players will move around while exploring and interacting with points of interest, all translated properly through a control scheme that is easy to pick up and play with. In fact, the Nintendo Switch feels like the perfect vessel for Ron Gilbert’s latest effort, allowing for bite-sized sessions at any given time.
Another aspect of the game that’s undergone a touch-up it in its hint system, which will be a useful tool for players that get locked by the many puzzles throughout the journey. Return to Monkey Island implements hints in such a way that not everything is given outright, gradually opening up clues that point players towards their current objective, just like those pirate maps.
Some of the smaller aspects of the game actually make the biggest impact, tying the whole experience together with fantastic voice acting and joke delivery that makes the Return to Monkey Island shine. References to previous entries abound, and while it’ll delight the longtime fans, first-time players won’t be left in the dark too much to not enjoy the proceedings.
Being a point-and-click adventure, players looking to give the Switch version a whirl will be glad to know that performance is silky smooth, reinforcing the aforementioned point of Nintendo’s handheld being the perfect way to play the game.
What We Liked:
- Unmissable for fans but also a delight for newcomers
- Classic gameplay
- Hit or miss visual style (We loved it!)
What We Didn’t Like:
- It’s not on more platforms as of writing
- Prior games should have been released as well
Verdict: Buy it!
Return to Monkey Island is a delight for both fans and newcomers, showcasing the genius of Ron Gilbert and providing an unmissable experience from start to finish.
The latest entry makes changes and upgrades to where it matters and keeps the personality of the series by still making it a point-and-click affair, resulting in a charming and heartfelt entry that surely makes the 30-year wait worth it.
*Return to Monkey Island was reviewed on a Nintendo Switch with a review code provided by the publisher.