Return to Monkey Island Game Review by lminieroI'm devastated to do this, considering how much I waited for this game (I'm old enough to have played the first two about when they came out, and I played them all since), but I cannot in my heart recommend it. The black and white nature of Steam reviews forces me to choose a thumbs down, because a thumbs up wouldn't feel right: the actual vote would probably be a 5/10, in that it's a passable game, just not one that I enjoyed for several different reasons. I'll keep the review spoiler free, as I don't want to ruin the experience to anyone who hasn't started or finished it yet.
Of course, all the reasons I'll list are subjective, as I'm not claiming an objective perception of reality: I know many did like the game, I happened not to. As such, please assume there's a "IMHO", "to me", and things like that in pretty much everything you'll read.
- FIrst of all, I'll start with the thing that annoyed me the most: I didn't find the game funny. Considering how hilarious the previous chapters were (the first two in particular), this felt like a true stab to the heart, as I only laughed once (ONCE!) in the entire game (I still remember where, it was in chapter two), and maybe had other two chuckles in the rest of the game. Nothing else in the 12 hours I spent with it. This can also be noticed in the very sparse use the writers made of dialog puzzles: rather than being used for humour opportubities, they're often just items you have to go through to exhaust the conversation. I don't want to think Ron, Dave and the others can't write humour anymore, so I just have to assume they chose a style that targeted someone that wasn't me: considering how they apparently did everything they could to widen the audience, especially younger ones, I assume that's who they wrote their jokes for.
- This un-funnyness of the game was immediately apparent from the prologue, which acts as a very much unneeded and annoying tutorial chapter. It's very much uninteresting (despite the WOW effect of how it starts), with incredibly annoying characters. Definitely not the best way to start, for me.
- That said, the game is very easy. It starts asking you to choose between a casual and difficult mode, but if you've played other adventure games in the past, the difficult mode actually IS the casual mode, as you'll very rarely be challenged, and when that happens not for long. I can't even imagine what the casual mode is: I can only guess the mouse moves by itself and solves puzzles for you while you eat a delicious snack.
- To make things worse, and the game even easier, the developers added a forced hints system that you cannot disable. Pretty much right away you're given an object in the inventory that is a hintbook (because they didn't want people leaving the game to look for walkthroughs), but even ignoring it completely (as I did) the game still hammers you over and over and over with hints on everything you're supposed to do, or how to approach things. Just in the first chapter, pretty much every character you talk to will remind you time and again in conversations that you have to talk to a specific character to solve a puzzle. Even just hovering on objects and locations will remind you of things and give hints. They didn't want to make the same mistake as previous games and add impossible puzzles: unfortunately they ended up with a complete and utter dumbification of the gameplay as a result.
- The dumbification of the gameplay gets even worse when you realize the game ships trivia cards: you pickup objects on the ground, only to figure out it's not an actual object, but trivia questions you can answer to, I guess to unlock additional achievements. I hated this very much, as it felt way out of place, and completely ruined my immersion in the game. But again, that's apparently how modern games are written today, maybe because players are not considered entertained enough by just playing the game anymore.
- Another thing that greatly saddened me was how plain and uninspired the soundtrack was. Even if you're barely familiar with the Monkey Island series, you'll probably know how memorable its themes have been in many of the previous games. All the original composers came back to score RTMI, but unfortunately it feels like they just phoned it in... There's not a single new memorable tune, as the few times you'll feel something good is actually playing, you notice it's just a rehash of an old tune to match an old location. Notice, I'm not saying the music is bad: it's "fine", but fine is not enough, as it's bland and backgound-y, while it almost was another character in the past (especially in the first three games).
- Many people are saying it already, so I'll just say it too: without spoiling the game for you, the ending is just BAD. Let's just leave it at that: if you want to learn more on why, I'm sure some more spoiler-y reviews will fill you in.
- I played the game on Linux, and the experience was quite frustrating (feel free to ignore if you're not a Linux user). We did know there would not be a native Linux client on day one, but the devs did claim the Windows version worked fine via Proton. Unfortunately, that wasn't true for the vast majority of us: the game could not be installed out of the box (you had to force a Proton compatibility mode), and even when installed, it just showed a black screen, which could only be solved by hacking several workarounds in sequence using the terminal. As soon as the first patch came out, mouse clicks broke entirely (in a point and click game!), which again required a hackish workaround (downgrading manually via the Steam console, since it cannot be done from the application). Apart from this, the game did play fine, but those were very frustrating hours: and considering how easy the game is, it definitely felt like getting the game to run was a much harder puzzle than those in the game itself.
- I left the art style for last, because I'm well aware of how divisive it's been since it first came out. I'm one of those who hated it, and not because of any nostalgia for pixels or stuff like that: I just found it horrible to look at, and playing the game didn't make me change my mind. It further gave the impression of a game for kids, written for kids. It's not necessarily a bad thing: many of us were kids when we played the first two. But I'm not a kid anymore, and I don't like popup books either.
In a nutshell, it's not a horrible game: it's just painfully not the great game I was expecting. Many of the other fans did like it, so as for many other things that exist in the world, YMMV, don't take my words as gospel. If you're likely to be bothered by the same things that bothered me, though, then do brace for a possibly rocky experience.