Avast ya scury sea dogs!
Another month and we are on to the second release in the Tales of Monkey Island series. Telltale offer up the latest (mis)adventures of Guybrush Threepwood in The Siege of Spinner Cay. (Episode one spoiler alert!) When we last left our hero his smug satisfactions of overcoming the winds on Flotsom Island are short lived when he not only discovers his wife Elaine getting friendly with LeChuck , but also finds himself on the end of a mystery swordsman’s blade. A brief altercation later and Guybrush is left with only one hand and a cracked mast. The damaged mast forces Guybrush to the nearby Jerkbait Island where he discovers his wife Elaine, a worryingly helpful LeChuck and the secret to locating La Sponja Grande.
Graphically the previous edition was no slouch. My main complaints from the last episode was that the character models, except the main protagonists (Guybrush, Elaine, LeChuck etc) all looked a little plastic and bland. Well this seems to of been addressed in this edition. Some of the characters still look a little stilted, but the work Telltale have done to improve these models is evident from the start. The backgrounds are once again beautifully drawn and colourfully realised. The art style of this new iteration is really growing on me. After playing some of Lucasarts attempt at resurrecting the original Secret of Monkey Island I have to say that Telltale have done a much more satisfying job with the art style.
Sound wise TSoSC grabs the best parts of the first episode and layers a new level of finesse on top. The voice acting once again is top notch – I did notice a slight static lisping to Elaine’s vocal tracks but this maybe due to the pre-release code we had as I am sure Telltale would of cleaned that before shipping. The spot effects are again high in production value and offset the environmental absorption fantastically. The package hangs together so well it just captures the original spirit of Monkey Island so well.
Gameplay wise not a lot has changed – as you would expect. Once again the control scheme makes little sense to a mouse based environment. The control of Guybrush is once again via WSAD or the mouse and uses a directional method rather than just “point & click”. This method still feels like it should be used with a controller but what the hey, it works well enough most of the time. It just niggles when you get stuck trying to move perspectives at times. The puzzles this time out seem to be a little bit tougher. It might just have been me being shit but I got stuck a few times on this one where as last outing it was pretty much a breeze. Telltale’s in game prompts do a good job or pointing you in the right direction but sometimes you just have to fall back on combining random crap to resolve your problems.
The premise of this episode is you are looking for the three summoning artefacts that will help you get to La Sponja Grande. Just when you think you’re in the clear negotiations break down between pirates infected with the “Pox of LeChuck” and the local mer-person inhabitants. The pirates then lay siege to the islands and you must try and escape with Elaine and the three summoning artifacts. This time around it feels more like you are progressing a story. It is easy now to see that the first game was a “Hi, here is the interface, new artsyle and general premise – check it out!” kind of thing. These outing feels much more cohesive. The whole thing is a little short on locations, and the fear that ran through me when I had to walk through a very similar looking forest to last outing was only short lived. The game, possibly due to the increased difficulty, weighed in at around 4 ½ – 5 hours this time. Adding a good 30 – 60 mins to the first episodes time. My only real concern with these titles – just as it would be with Sam and Max, Strongbad etc – is that once completed there really is little need to replay them – but at the price they can be throw away experiences without being seen as too extravagant.
Once again Telltale have managed to produce a great episodic title. Reviewing these games is getting harder as mostly they are spot on, with only minor tweaks or niggles in place each time. This episode sets up the third iteration handsomely and has a more satisfying ending than the last. I will admit to not getting so many laugh out loud moments from this episode, but it retains it comedic nature throughout. It offers, in my opinion, a more rounded Monkey Island experience and gives you more depth to the story. All in all I will be waiting eagerly to get my hook into the third instalment when it ships towards the end of September. If you like these games or fancy a dabble to see what the fuss is about, go buy it – hell I think it is safe to say pre-order the rest of the season as Telltale have this series firmly in their capable grasp.