By Marty Mulrooney
Chapter 4 of Tales Of Monkey Island was awarded Alternative Magazine Online’s first ever perfect 10 score last month, finishing on a cliff-hanger that blew many fans old and new completely away.
My main worry initially was that the season final would not be able to hold this momentum through to its conclusion, although I also noted in my review for Chapter 4 that I had the upmost faith that Telltale were up to the challenge. Thank god I was right. Rise Of The Pirate God dials that 10 up to 11 with admirable ease.
Before I begin, please be aware. This review will contain minor spoilers, although the main reveals will be clearly marked. It has been hard to review this series from episode to episode: the story has just been so consistently fantastic.
Indeed, Rise Of The Pirate God is no exception: it is the most difficult chapter I have had to review yet. As you will all be aware, Guybrush kinda… died at the end of Chapter 4. Chapter 5 doesn’t waste any time getting started though. The credits haven’t even finished rolling and we are already digging him out of his grave, before talking to a hilarious dead Ferryman (superbly voice acted) that will look strangely familiar to long time fans.
I don’t know if it’s just me either, but everything about this episode reeks of quality from the outset. The graphics, showing off a pirate afterlife (of sorts), are nothing short of beautiful. The lighting effects, paired with Guybrush’s new form (trying not to spoil things here!) make everything feel quite new, fresh and artistic to boot.
Voice acting sounds faultless this time round. I enjoyed every conversation, didn’t skip any lines and thought Dominic Armato was at the top of his game, 100% of the time. Guybrush has always been quite a comedic character, the funny man, a loveably oaf. The fact he can now also emote more grown-up emotions and still feel true to character (and most importantly, authentic) is a testament to the screenwriter’s and Dom’s collaboration here.
Earl Boen as LeChuck is just the way it was always meant to be. He growls his lines with glee… yet this time, he is actually threatening for the first time in a long time, which is as it should be. Again, kudos to everyone involved for making the game just the right shades of light and dark. I really felt involved with the battles that took place and my emotions were constantly running high.
Supporting characters are great. There are some new ones (gotta love Franklin the Dog) and old friends such as Winslow make a welcome return. In fact, Winslow very nearly steals the show (and some of Jack Sparrow’s moves!) with his hilarious comments and banter. Considering he used to annoy me, it is amazing now how much I would miss him if he didn’t return in future.
The new environments are great, mixing with familiar ones in fresh new ways. Not once did I feel that Telltale were being lazy, or just recycling material. This episode has the greatest sense of place yet seen in the series: it is a joy to explore, feeling tangible and real.
The puzzles are nigh on perfect. I don’t even care if that seems like a bold statement, because they really did just work perfectly here. I knew what I had to do at all times, even if I wasn’t quite sure how. Not too easy, not too hard and thankfully never obscure (the one area of Chapter 4 that annoyed me slightly)… Telltale really nailed it here. The final has a great sense of pace and progression that never lets up.
So now, Spoiler Time…
/ Controlling Guybrush as a ghost who cannot pick things up and then as a zombie was a complete stroke of genius from the Telltale gang. Sure, we have seen LeChuck that way before, but Guybrush? It worked really well, was very funny and made the return to his human form all the more satisfying. It also ties in very nicely with the original adventures.
Morgan’s return was really satisfying as well, making me smile and feel strangely at east. Perhaps her demise last episode had left things feeling unresolved for me? I am glad that she got to reunite with Guybrush and somewhat make amends.
Speaking of female characters, Alexandra Boyd easily steals the show back from Le Flay as Elaine in the finale; cocksure, manipulative and feisty… what a gal!
And the ending? Not that ending! You know, the extra ending after the credits have finished rolling? WOW. If we don’t get a series 2 now, I actually don’t think I will be able to cope! Shocking stuff that potentially paves the way for a whole new tangent within the Monkey Island Universe… I can’t wait! /
This may seem like quite a short review (because truthfully, it is!) but what more can I say that I haven’t already said a million times before? Chapter 4 finally made Monkey Island and the adventure genre feel relevant and mainstream again.
Chapter 5 has taken this success and proceeded to powerhouse it into a 200 meg install called Rise Of The Pirate God that lasted me for more than 5 hours of playtime, made me laugh and (almost!) cry (again!) and quite frankly left me salivating for more. The ending feels deceptively flat, before surprising you with a revelation so shocking that it can only hint at what has actually begun.
At the price paid, for the amount of fun, entertainment and nostalgia offered, I don’t see how anyone could feel let down by what Telltale have done here; they have actualised a dream that many gamers thought would never come to fruition, especially in 2009.
I care about this world, I care about the characters (especially Guybrush) and I now truly care about Telltale Games as well. Congratulations if you have recently finished playing the series final and then read this review: you have just completed one of the best adventure games of the last 10 years. Episodic gaming does work… next month will feel so empty.
11 OUT OF 10 (Adventure Gaming Perfection)
You can also see what Guybrush Threepwood voice actor Dominic Armato thought of the series finale in our interview here!