Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 5: Rise of the Pirate God review
The Monkey Island series is one of the richest in gaming history, and with good reason: tight scripting, well-told jokes, and a simple gameplay system made the series a must-have throughout the 90s. As a fan of all the original games (well, maybe not Escape as much....), I have thoroughly enjoyed the Tales of Monkey Island series so far. So now, we reach the conclusion: how does it all end for our favorite pirate wannabe?
First things first: Spoiler Alert! This review discusses points from previous chapters in the series, and if you have yet to play them, please do before you read this!
Tales of Monkey Island Part 5 is the final part of Telltale's series reboot, another classic point-and-click re-imagined for today's gamers. You are once again cast as Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate, killed off at the end of the last chapter, and waking up in his grave with nothing but a Shred of Life to keep him company. Anyone who has ever played a Telltale title is on familiar ground from the get-go: ToMI:5 utilizes exactly the same system again, with movement controlled with either keys or the mouse, and all inventory tucked away at the side of the screen. Even the somewhat irritating combine system returns, alongside all our favorite characters (well, except Murray....).
This time around, the bulk of the game is set in new locations, with most characters returning, and a coupe of new faces too. The new cast fit in well (Galeb, in particular, is fantastic!), and all the returning characters fit in with the story perfectly. LeChuck is finally back to his evil best, and Guybrush is once again the highlight of the episode. The puzzles have been improved too - although the first couple of problems are swiftly overcome, you soon are required to keep track of several things at the same time, bringing everything together correctly to progress. This is less difficult in practice, thanks to the simple hint system, and a real feeling of knowing what to do, just not how to achieve it.
Graphically, nothing has changed. ToMI:5 maintains the simple-yet-stylish look of previous chapters, allowing it to run smoothly on all PCs. Everything has an over-the-top sheen to it, whilst still drenching the locales in heavy atmosphere: colors pop, shading is subtle, and yet the simplicity of the design ensures everything still feels somehow believable.
The sound work is, once again, fantastic: voice acting balances believability and sheer hamminess to create a good-yet-tongue-in-cheek delivery from most characters, rounding out their credibility. Script writing is also great - established characters feel right, and play off against each other very well. Sound effects play nicely, and the classic score is still annoyingly catchy.
The story wraps up well, finally answering most of the questions built up throughout the series (although some things seem to be left purposefully vague - make sure you watch the credits all the way to the end), and bringing a definite end to this chapter. Everyone gets a conclusion, everything has a purpose, and nagging problems (why did you have the ring for the entire adventure?) get resolved. Most collected items integrate well into the story too, and are used in a variety of logical ways. The actual ending is little weak, however, and let the series go out with more of a pop than a bang.
As always, point-and-click veterans will steam through the story quickly, and ToMI:5 is not more difficult than previous iterations. The whole thing can be wrapped up in about 2-3 hours, and although the new dialogue and settings add a freshness, there is little reason to return once you have finished. Viewed in the right context (i.e.: a chapter as opposed to standalone), however, ToMI:5 is a decent finale.
In reality, most people will have purchased this as part of the series, and will undoubtedly enjoy it as much as the other chapters. The content and characters are handled extremely well, maintaining a great balance between nostalgia and new ideas, yet keeping it within the established world. The nod to classic gameplay schemes (such as insult swordfighting) work brilliantly, providing an extra laugh to old fans, and yet ToMI never feels like pure fan service: as a standalone game, the whole season is one of Telltales best. Whilst maybe not the best episode (that distinction goes to chapter 3), ToMI:5 ends the tale well, blending excellent puzzles with a fun script to produce everything pirate fans could ask for.