It’s that time of the month again! It’s time for our review of the latest episode in the Tales of Monkey Island series. Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood, begins with our hero’s return to Flotsam Island where he promptly arrested. Finally all that mischief he caused in Chapter 1 has caught up to him. But not only does he face death at the hands of the pirate justice system, prosecuting him is none other than everyone’s favourite snake oil salesman, Stan S. Stanman.
Like the previous episodes, this one comes with the same visual charm and appropriate soundtrack. In terms of the voice acting, the return to Flotsam Island also means the return of many of the supporting character from Chapter 1. Those of you who’ve been following along this entire time may remember that I didn’t like their voice-overs then and that hasn’t changed. Fortunately, the primary characters are as solid as ever and Stan’s voice, now preformed by Gavin Hammon, is more appropriate and less jarring than the Stan from Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition.
Spoiler Alert: In spite of my efforts to be as vague as possible, the following may ruin some elements of the game if you haven’t already played it. If you don’t want to risk it, feel free to skip right to the summery at the end.
Up until this point, I have refrained from commenting heavily on the story behind this series both to keep spoilers to a minimum and to allow it to progress before criticism. But in this episode, as the story arc reaches its climax, the plot takes a few surprising and unsettling turns. Without sounding like a screaming fan-boy, the events of Chapter 4 diverge sharply from the traditional and feel distinctly non-canon. Very bad things happen and, as a result, some characters show an emotional depth that seems uncharacteristic of the series and inconsistent with the characters themselves.
I can appreciate the attempt to inject some substance into both the story and characters but it creates two problems. Firstly, these dramatic scenes are not very believable or moving because they don’t match the overall feel of the game and they’re not done well enough to work. Secondly, the emotion generated does not carry into the rest of the game. Guybrush will go from totally enraged in one scene to delivering silly quips in another. And this is part-and-parcel of the way the game is designed, as something terrible can happen in the plot and then the player can move onto another character and choose humorous dialogue option at will. Even if you tell others about the incident, the reaction is usually strange and inappropriate.
So What I’m Trying To Say Is…
I have mixed feelings about Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood. In terms of presentation, it delivers nice graphics, good sound and some mixed but generally acceptable voice acting. The gameplay is what you’d expect by now, moderately difficult puzzles with fairly logical and humourous solutions. It’s an enjoyable and fun play until the story careens into some contentious territory. The developers try to introduce some dramatic elements to what is generally a silly game and it doesn’t work very well. The major twists in the plot feel out of place and characters begin acting out of character. Events meant to illicit a sense of crisis and heightened emotion fall flat.
Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood is developed and published by Telltale Games. Game provided courtesy of Telltale and completed in 3+ hours. The entire 5 episode series can be purchased online for $34.95 USD from Telltale’s website. Feeling after completion: “I think I need a hug”.