Review By: Jared Black
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Prior to Tales of Monkey Island, it had been eight years (almost nine on PC) since we’d last seen Mighty Pirate Guybrush Threepwood in action. I think it’s safe to say at this point that Telltale has successfully resurrected the once-dead and beloved franchise, with a solid episodic series that’s only seen a few minor missteps along the way.
Speaking of resurrections, Chapter 5: Rise of the Pirate God starts out with one of its own, as Guybrush wrises from his gwrave. OK, so it’s not exactly a resurrection since Guybrush is still technically dead, but he does have in his possession a promising Shred of Life...and some dirt. Finding himself near the Crossroads of the afterlife (which lead to several eternal destinations for pirates who have passed on), Guybrush must find his way back to the realm of the living and stop the demonic LeChuck from making Elaine his demon bride and laying waste to Caribbean civilization.
I think the most striking aspect of Chapter 5 is the visual style, which takes what we’ve seen in the series to date and mixes it with a bit of Tim Burton-esque style. The underworld is presented with more angles and pronounced features, such as the tall hill where Guybrush’s grave resides and the skeletal Grim Reaper who ferries ghostly travelers to and from the Crossroads. Some of those elements existed in previous games already, but they’re more pronounced here to great effect. Ghosts have an ethereal glow to them, and the LeChuck-controlled real world (what you see of it anyway) is a smoldering disaster area.
As for the gameplay, there aren’t any great surprises. The first half of the game moves along pretty linearly; although the Crossroads do allow the player some freedom in deciding where to go, ultimately solving early puzzles is all about collecting the right items and the game funnels you through the same areas. Later the world opens up a bit, with a couple of clever puzzles requiring the player to think outside the box to solve them.
The dialog is consistently excellent throughout the game as it has been for most of the series, and the ending is satisfyingly conclusive while leaving the door open to future Monkey Island titles (as I fully expect there to be). Standout characters from this chapter include the Voodoo Lady, who’s in hiding and appears covertly to Guybrush in different forms, and the insane underworld denizen Gable (whose look is half-Leprechaun, half Caribbean) who promotes himself as an expert on voodoo magic.
A fantastic ending to a satisfying revival of the Monkey Island franchise, Rise of the Pirate God nails all the small details in a brisk adventure. While the first half of the game is pretty straightforward, the excellent artwork and dialog makes it not feel like a chore regardless, and the puzzles in the second half of the game are a joy to solve.
Posted: 2009-12-22 16:18:06 PST