Since we last left Guybrush Threepwood in Telltale Games’ first piece of episodic content, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, fans of the series and newcomers alike have been aching for Tales of Monkey Island’s next voyage into the laugh inducing and voodoo inspired world. The first episode proved that Telltale had enough swashbuckling intrigue to revive the series and appease the fans, while appealing to an entire new generation of gamer.
Now, after six weeks of waiting, The Siege of Spinner Cay has appeared on the horizon, ready to continue where wannabe pirate Guybrush was left in a familiar life-threatening pickle. Can Telltale keep it fresh and entertaining? Or has the scurvy set in too heavily?
As the game launches, the famed fat voodoo lady appears on screen to recap the first episodes’ events in typical vague, fortuneteller fashion. Guybrush Threepwood is now captain of the Screaming Narwhal after escaping Flotsam Island and the lunatic Doctor DeSinge, but now finds himself looking down the wrong end of a sword, thanks to pirate hunter Morgan LeFlay. One thing I admire about Tales is the truly unique story that the first two episodes have introduced and begun to flesh out so well, but not straying far from the series’ roots.
The second episode hurls the player face first into the plot, with Guybrush losing his Pox infected hand and struggling to think of a way out of his predicament. You’ll have to use the ship’s surroundings and your ol’ noggin to defeat LeFlay, all without your trusted skills as an insult swordsman. The game also uses this beginning scene to re-familiarize the player with the controls. As awkward as they may seem at first, they eventually become comfortable, and necessary, to retain the experience of a classic graphic adventure game in a 3D world.
By utilizing the ship, Telltale keeps the puzzle adventuring fresh, making use of your positioning to your advantage, rather than frantically combining items in your inventory while you think of a solution. Though fun, repetitive use of any game mechanic gets old, and the simple inventory combination is no exception. Its refreshing to see an adventure game that not only remains true to the genre’s roots, but strives for innovation as well.
However, there will be times where frantic item combinations will occur, but whats an adventure game without a little friendly frustration? At certain points though, where Spinner Cay was meant to be brain-racking, it just simply wasn’t quite up to par. I breezed through the first half of the game, encountering only minor setbacks while Guybrush kept me continuously chuckling as I traversed the Jerkbait Islands. Yet the second half proved to be more challenging, making me sit back in my chair and think quite a bit. These challenges were very few though, as this episode was easier than the first.
Although the varying degree of difficulty may annoy some, the humor (a staple of the series) does not take a turn for the worse. The writing is superb and delivered relatively flawlessly by the voicing cast. It keeps all of the “Everyone 10+” audience laughing and entertained throughout the episode, even referencing some of Guybrush’s more unique talents.
To accompany the game’s unrivaled sense of humor, Telltale Games creates some impressively colorful and fitting backgrounds that add to, if not create, many of the jokes throughout the episode. The less-than-piratey antics of the crew and the fantastic surroundings compliment each other well, and help make the lackluster supporting character models seem a bit more intriguing.
Tales of Monkey Island: The Siege of Spinner Cay offers an enthralling adventure experience that is hard to come by: an experience, however, that is not without its problems. This second episode is quite short, clocking in around 2 to 3 hours, depending on your puzzle solving skills, and is generally easier than the first installment. However, what we lose in slight challenge and length, we gain in story and character development. We know more of the Pox and how to cure it, as well as receiving some much needed background stories.
The Siege of Spinner Cay will most likely not be the best episode in the series, but its still a fun continuation to a five episode set. And hey, if you played the first one, you’re already in for $35.00. So, seven bucks aint too bad for an episode, eh?
The artwork for the backgrounds worked very well with the game. The supporting character models were a little bland, however.
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There are no big changes to the fundamental gameplay, and none were expected. Telltale's interesting solutions utilizing one's surrounding kept the game fresh.
Quality music was a nice touch to the island settings, complimenting the nearly flawless voice work.
Episode 2 was quite short, even for episodal content standards. And once you're done, all there is to do is wait for the next one.
The Siege of Spinner Cay is not as good as the first episode, but still worthy of carrying the Monkey Island name.