Tales of Monkey Island Episode Two – The Verdict
So, as you may have gathered from last month’s review, we at the Reticule rather liked the first episode of the resurrection of gaming’s favourite pirate Guybrush Threepwood. After setting such a high precedent with Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, can Telltale match the high standard for the second episode, entitled The Siege of Spinner Cay or will they fight like a cow? (Fired -Ed)
We pick up exactly where we left off with Guybrush on a mission to find his wife Elaine along with the now human LeChuck. Meanwhile the evil voodoo pox unleashed in the same incident that caused LeChuck’s transformation is currently making it’s way across the Carribrean infecting many as it goes, including Guybrush’s hand. In this second episode the player is immediately thrown into a great opening swordfight that introduces a great new character while simultaneously progressing the story – which would be an injustice to give away in this review. Soon enough Threepwood finds himself in the Jerkbait Islands, meeting the native Merpeople who don’t waste much time on setting a mission to find – yeah, you probably guessed it – three important items.
Obtaining these items appears to make slightly more sense in this episode, with every puzzle being far more logical in this game. I would have to lay a slight criticism for giving us another jungle maze again, but at least this time they haven’t made the mistake of forcing us to navigate through the medium of sounds. Another niggle – and this may be entirely down to personal preference as to whether it affects your enjoyment – is that in this series there are puzzles that require inventory items obtained from the last episode. While it should be commended that Telltale are enforcing more of a continuity this time around (and making it feel far more like a proper series because of it) be warned if you have a poor memory like me or if you decide to play them out of order you may get stumped on a puzzle or two.
Where this episode really shines is in the humour. It’s definitely the funniest episode of the series so far, and indeed Narwhal was filled with a few chucklesome moments, Spinner Cay genuinely had me laughing out loud at some of it’s jokes. As a result it really becomes a thoroughly enjoyable game. The main cast get some actually brilliant lines, that I even turned off the subtitles for most of the screenshots so as not to spoil them for you. Even the ‘new’ characters introduced in this episode manage to prise a guffaw or two – especially pirate hunter Morgan LeFlay, whom has become my second new favourite supporting character after Murray (who does get a mention this episode, along with the Insult Sword Fighting that Telltale wisely avoided). The dialogue really shines with the interactions between the characters, some of the Guybrush/Elaine and Guybrush/LeChuck exchanges are witty, and great fun.
It’s a bit of a shame then that the rest of the supporting cast, namely the pirates and merfolk, are still suffering at the expense of the main cast. Still slightly bland and not really having much in the way development we never really get to know them , nor are given much incentive to do so. They may not be there long, but you do feel they could pretty much be replaced by any character wearing a pirate suit. Even if they’re only in for one episode they just feel far more 2dimensional than everyone else, and it feels a bit of a shame that they’re underused. The locations also feel a bit desolate this time around, there’s definitely no feeling of a ‘city’ about Spinner Cay, even if they do have the excuse that most of it is underwater. The only parts you can get to are the only parts you need, and that’s that, which does seem like a bit of a shame.
The most frustrating part of this review is not wanting to say too much to spoil it, but it’s a testament to the excellent writing this episode. If you enjoyed the first episode, you’ll certainly enjoy the second. If you’ve not yet tried the series (assuming Telltale make each episode available separately) I do recommend playing the first before this one, but it is brilliant and has a trait much missed from many games: it’s very funny indeed. The bar may have been set pretty high, but Telltale have not disappointed. Finally, the ending – which again I won’t spoil for you – leaves you very much looking forward to yet another episode.