Tales of Monkey Island has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the past three episodes. Telltale Games has consistently brought the funny through a great story and script, but often the puzzles, character depth, and episode length felt uninspired, especially with the last two entries of the series.
Episode four hopes to point the ship in the right direction, picking up after Guybrush’s expulsion from the bowels of a giant manatee. While I can’t tell you how The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood will play out, I can tell you this: it is definitely the best episode yet.
Like the previous episodes, the game begins where the last one ended, continuing the excellent story that Telltale Games has scripted. Characters of old have made genuinely funny reappearances, as Murray, the talking evil skull, showed his bones in Lair of the Leviathan, and Stan, the ADHD wonder-salesman, makes a comeback this time around (as does his seriously tripped out coat). While you’ll be returning to Flotsam Island, the backdrop of the first episode, you get to explore new areas, meet some interesting pirate folk, and, above all, finally get back to the roots of Monkey Island‘s challenging puzzles.
We last saw our hero at the end of Episode Three in a familiar spot: staring down the wrong end of pirate hunter Morgan LeFlay’s sword. Being The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood, one can deduce that a coup will come into play; but this isn’t your run-of-the-mill democracy in the world of Monkey Island. Guybrush must answer the call of “Pirate Law” and appear amongst his buccaneering peers to defend himself against his “crimes” (see: puzzle solutions) in Pirate Court, and against Stan and his fabulous coat, who make their grand appearance as Guybrush’s prosecutor. Your goal? Get out of court with your neck unbroken, and not hanging from a tree.
Doing so, however, will take some serious wit. Telltale stepped up their game in terms of challenging and intriguing puzzles for Trial and Execution; there will be a lot of playless pondering, followed by many thwacks to the forehead as you solve your way along the adventure. A point-and-click adventure is only as good as the challenge that its puzzles hold, and if the solutions pop out at you too easily, the experience of the adventure is compromised.
Episode Four doesn’t fall into such a linear progression, as you’ll definitely have to think outside of the box; it’s a great change of pace from the last two episodes. Though you’ll still be following the point-and-click, and combining items style of play, it’s all done quite creatively, and equally comically. One such puzzle has Guybrush needing to make a paralyzed cat move, and you’ll have to use your noggin to figure out how some iron filament and a monkey can mobilize it once again. Simply genius.
Comedy has always been a strong point for the Tales of Monkey Island series, and Episode Four does not disappoint. The script’s delivery is excellent, as always; the voice actors are spot on, and will keep a constant chuckle ringing in the air. What really strengthens the humor in Trial and Execution, though, are the puzzles, and some further character depth that has been missing since Episode One.
Because of the trial setting, you’ll have to investigate the crimes against you by questioning the witnesses. Learning their stories and exposing their tomfoolery is a blast, especially arms-a-flailing Stan and his overly loud coat. Stan is a great (re)addition to the cast: he’s odd-looking, 100% ridiculous, and knows Guybrush’s shenanigans well enough to counter with witty retorts to bolster the already awesome story.
Like the first episode, Trial and Execution will clock in at around three to four hours, longer if your puzzle solving skills were put into a lull by Episodes Two and Three. But, like all of them, it holds no real replay value, for there’s literally nothing to do once you’ve completed the game, unless you want to sit back and listen to the nifty music while you stare at the pretty artwork. Sure, you could explore every dialog choice there is, but, chances are, you’ve already done that looking for your next puzzle solution.
This fourth episode not only captures the comedic spirit of the classic Monkey Island series, but also boasts stellar puzzles that enhance the script’s humor, and challenges the mind. The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood is a return to form for the Tales series; it’s a superb climax to the five-part episodic content, and will have you jonesing for the final act.
The script is fantastic, the story is solid and original, and the artwork is as vivid and goofy as ever.
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A triumphant return to the challenging puzzles that the Monkey Island namesake is known for. The game provides great fun and many laughs.
The music is fitting, as it always is for the swashbuckling series, and the voicework is spot on.
Though it clocks in as the longest episode, theres still nothing to do once you've beaten the game.
Finding its stride, The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood is the best episode thus far. The puzzles will make you think while you laugh your way through the stellar adventure, and try not to fall to Stan's seizure-inducing coat.