Two weeks are down on the RPS Advent Calendar this year, and you’ve started to feel the call to adventure again. You thought that you’d rolled up your treasure map for good, and swabbed your last deck, but it seems like the wind is here to fill your sales once more…
Relive your pirate dreams in sweet nostalgia-fest Return To Monkey Island!
Alice Bee: One of the first games I got properly obsessed with was The Curse Of Monkey Island, which is in fact the third game in the series, and I worked backwards to play the first two. Getting a new Monkey Island game in 2022 seemed like dreaming the impossible dream – but we did! So this September saw me doing the 2D point-and-click around a group of colourful, imaginary Caribbean islands with Guybrush Threepwood once again.
It was extra exciting because this time some of the original creators were back on (almost literal) board. This had a big effect on the tone and story, which is a mix of sweet nostalgia and looking towards the future. You are, once again, racing to find the secret of Monkey Island, because guybrush and dread zombie pirate both got distracted the first time by falling in love with the same woman, the no-nonsense and very practical Elaine.
Elaine and LeChuck are only two of a bunch of fan-favorite characters who make a return, but none of them overstay their welcome, and there are just as many – more, even – new piratical pals to talk to. Return To Monkey Island doesn’t have a firm place in the canon, only taking place somewhere after the third game, but a lot of the fun is in seeing how characters’ lives have changed. Elaine is running a charitable lime farm to combat scurvy, and the pirate lords have retired to run a fishmongers.
It’s possible that none of the names I’ve mentioned mean anything to you, but I think that’s also fine. There are references, and even an optional trivia mini-game, for Monkey Island fanatics to enjoy, but that’s never the actual aim of the game. It’s a new story that you don’t need the entire canonical context for. I know someone for whom Return was both their first Monkey Island game and their first point and click adventure, and it has now made them interested in both. Return To Monkey Island has two different puzzle difficulty settings, an unbelievably specific hint system, QOL changes to the controls, and a beautiful new art style that lends the whole thing the air of a storybook.
You can never go back, truly. But sometimes you can visit. And that’s what Return To Monkey Island’s story is about, too.