Thanks to this morning’s particularly disposable Nintendo Direct Mini, we finally saw footage of Ron Gilbert Back to Monkey Island. Although there has been an information and PR blitz for the game since its announcement in Aprilthis is the first time we’ve gotten a glimpse of what it will look like while playing.
After some in-game art narrated by Guybrush Threepwood’s returning actor Dominic Armato, this morning’s reveal moves on to a series of somewhat awkwardly muted clips from the game, showing off a very handsome paper-crafty look to the characters and their animation.
If anything, the art style reminds me of the very pretty (but ultimately awful) Double Fine broken ageso hopefully we can give it a story and puzzles to match the beauty.
I can’t tell you how much I worry about anticipating this game. Like anyone old enough to have had the original monkey island games define a part of their teenage years, this swirling mush of memory and nostalgia makes it too valuable a property to fuck up.
Again, we have survived as a species the lack of love for the (indeed unfairly maligned) Escape from Monkey Island in 2000, then the boring mediocrity of Telltale’s attempts in 2009 with Tales from Monkey Islandso maybe at this point what we’re really looking for is the first one correctly good entered the series since 1997, about 25 years ago now.
It’s all speculation at this point, but the trailer oddly suggests that in addition to playing as the mighty pirate Guybrush Threepwood, Come back can also see you play as Elaine Marley, swordsman, ship’s captain, and former governor of the Tri-Island region. What is this trailer doesn’t show us how the game will actually play out, and that’s my biggest concern. Everyone is so afraid of proper point-and-click interfaces these days, instead trying to chronically simplify – and as such impotent – the genre so that it works on a single button on a controller. monkey island creator Ron Gilbert had the confidence to return to LucasArts’ classic verb-based interface for his latest game, 2017’s Thimbweed Parkbut I’m afraid no one will be disappointed to have let him do it in this much more publicized project.
The game’s own site says it will have “a clever evolution of classic adventure game controls. Contextual interactions, responsive dialog trees, and an easy-to-use inventory system,” so do what you want with it. It could be anything from exactly what i hopeto something that essentially plays the game for you as in too many recent examples.
The plot will pick up at the end of Gilbert’s last involvement in the series, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, but luckily has the good sense to incorporate the third game’s best addition, Murray the Talking Skull. With Gilbert and Grossman’s writing, there’s good reason to have high hopes, though it lacks the Tim Schafer factor that (I believe correctly) made the second game much funnier than the first.
There’s still no release date, just an ambiguous “2022”, which of course could very easily switch to “2023”. Due to the lack of voice clips in the trailer, I have a sneaky suspicion it’s further away than I’d like.