Star Rating:

Return To Monkey Island

Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch

Release Date: Tuesday 20th September 2022

Play Modes: Single Player

Long-awaited sequels aren't usually worth the wait or live up to the years of expectations, but 'Return To Monkey Island' is a minor miracle.

The latest in the long-running series is back to remind us why the 'Monkey Island' games were so beloved to begin with.

Following up from 'Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge', the new entry is a wonderful exercise in nostalgia while still standing on its own as its own game.

The graphical style is simple but effective, puzzles require a bit of brainpower but aren't typical LucasArts depraved levels of torture, and perhaps most crucially, the writing is as sharp and laugh-out-loud funny as ever.

We value games that treat writing as the most important part of the game, and 'Return To Monkey Island' has diamond-cut, first-rate dialogue.

A big part of the 'Monkey Island' appeal is wearing out the conversation options just to see what happens next, and it is still as fun now as it was in the original games.

The greatest success of 'Return To Monkey Island' is that while the game works even if you've never played a game in the series before, it feels like a 'Monkey Island' game through and through, and fans will feel right at home.

Monkeying about

The continuity of backroom staff is the secret to the success of the game.

Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman are the engines behind the franchise, and their style is a major part of making this feel like a 'Monkey Island' game instead of a cheap nostalgia cash-in.

The Ron Gilbert brand of writing is a major part of why the original 'Monkey Island' games have endured for so long, and he slips back into the world of Guybrush and friends like a pair of old jeans.

The writing is smart but not pretentious and broadly funny as opposed to silly.

Characters are fleshed out people with hopes, dreams and fears, and trying to woo them with Guybrush's built-in sense of delusion is still as funny as ever.

Puzzles are pleasingly tricky, but it isn't like old LucasArts games of the past where the logic to complete the puzzles required you to undergo an 'Altered States' style trip to attain higher consciousness to figure out what the game wants you to do.

The game offers you a hint book to tell you what to do next, and while purists may decry this, it works from a flow point of view - you don't have to consult an older sibling or tab out of the game to look up a walkthrough to figure out what to do next.

The UI has also been majorly streamlined, and is now more of a straight-up point-and-click affair as opposed to there being 10 different action buttons on screen.

The sub-text surrounding the new 'Monkey Island' is how the franchise has been missing for so long, and how it can adapt to the modern day.

An early encounter in the game with a voodoo salesperson muses about the virtues of embracing the future but also keeping an eye on the past, and this is the thesis statement of the game.

By embracing its past, but also keeping an eye on the future, 'Return To Monkey Island' manages to please fans both old and new.

Making a game that can appeal to old and new fans of the franchise is always a tall order, but the game makes it look effortless.

Fans have been waiting for nigh-on 30 years to see what happens next to Guybrush, and suffice to say, fans won't be disappointed.

The game can be played in one sitting, but you will want to revisit it again and again, which fits with the 'Monkey Island' tradition of being replayable.

'Return To Monkey Island' is like seeing an old friend you haven't seen for years and realising they are funnier than ever.