Review: Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 4 – The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood (PC)

cover-02Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 4 – The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games/Lucasarts
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 10/30/2009

The latest in the ongoing monthly Tales of Monkey Island series, this latest chapter has quite a bit of plot going on in it, and so far it’s got some of the more complicated things you need to do to make it through it. It took me more than just a few hours to get through it, and boy was it fun and hilarious. But wait! Haven’t read our reviews for the rest of the series? Check out Chapter One, Chapter Two, and Chapter Three before you see what we have to say on this one. And since some elements haven’t changed as this is a monthly game, anything I’ve ripped from a past review will be in italics. Enjoy.

Story/Modes
The beginning of this chapter has our hero, Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate, being delivered to the Marquis by Morgan LaFlay. It seems he’s to be part of the Marquis’ experiments yet again when he’s summoned magically to a court. The Marquis order Morgan to go get him, but she already delivered Guybrush, it’s the Marquis’ job to get him now. Still though, Morgan didn’t seem happy to be handing Guybrush over. Could she be having some kind of feelings for him? Maybe actually feeling guilty for her sudden, but inevitable betrayal?

It seems Guybrush stands accused of several crimes, one he didn’t commit, one he is guilty of but hardly warrants an execution, and the other he’s guilty as sin of. In a scene that feels like some sick twisted Phoenix Wright and Law and Order crossover event, the man with the poorest fashion sense you’ve ever seen attempts to prosecute you. From there you have to hear witnesses and then read a few briefs, and after you ask for a recess you end up behind bars. Apparently they’re not too smart, because if you ask for your lawyer, they’ll let you out to go talk to him. Send me to that jail!

From there you go about trying to prove your innocence, even of the guilty crimes, because hey, you’ve got a world to save and a giant sponge to use! Elaine’s back in this chapter, making things fairly difficult for you, especially with the jealous fights between her and Morgan. Oh yeah, things are really heating up in this chapter. Like I said in the intro, there is a lot going on in this chapter that ties up quite a bit of what you’ve been doing in the other chapters and should lead well into the fifth that really has me curious what’s going to happen next.

Story/Modes Rating: Classic

screen001Graphics
Much like the last chapter, many of my problems with the first chapter have been fixed, or hidden better. We’re back in somewhat familiar territory on the island from the first chapter. The pox victims still look quite, well, diseased, and for the most part the character models are quite good. The fashion victim’s shirt looks awful, which I’m sure is intentional, and watching the pattern not move with his shirt really messes with you, which is again intentional and brilliant.

The lighting really helps set-up the mood and is well done, and the leg lamp nod to A Christmas Story was fantastically done. All in all, the look has improved in the series. I just hope it’s not too jarring when I go back to the first chapter to play through again.

Graphics Rating: Good

Sound
The character voices are fantastically done and really bring this game to life and suck you in. The dialogue is really well written and fits each of the characters. There is music to the game but it’s not that memorable.

The dialogue here is witty as ever and delivered well. I can’t complain about the voice actors they picked as they work so well. No syncing glitches with the lips, which is also a good sign. Overall the sound just works.

Sound Rating: Very Good

Control and Gameplay
The controls in this game are very simple. You can move around with the keyboard or mouse, point and click on objects with the mouse, drag items in your inventory to interact with other objects with your mouse, and in a few instances you’ll have to use the keyboard to arrange certain objects to escape. Simple, but effective.

screen002Gameplay pretty much follows what you’d expect from an adventure game. Wander around, talk to people, pick up objects and figure out how they fit into certain puzzles, if at all. There are a few instances where they change camera angles which make it a bit difficult to figure out where you’re supposed to be going, but the environments are usually detailed enough where it isn’t that much of a problem. You do have several dialogue options with the differing characters you meet, but other than revealing different parts of the story or backstory for the characters it really doesn’t change the interactions thereafter, so you can be as much of a jerk as you like if that’s how you want to play it.

The one area in this chapter I had a few issues with was later on with all the mixing and timing. It wasn’t terrible, but if you’re not ready for it, you’re going to end up re-doing a number of sections and end up being pretty miffed about your lack of reflexes. I did love having to change tactics and use Guybrush’s male wiles and wit to get people in an uproar to get around the bar or even get outcomes to pop in your favor. The puzzles and options have been fairly different from chapter to chapter and that continues here as well.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Great

Replayability
While this was a ton of fun, subsequent playthroughs will be faster and easier which might cut down on the fun for some players. That and you can’t really skip some of the more inane dialogue (or at least I couldn’t figure out how when I was playing the first chunk over again). Really the only reason to play this over again is for the amusing dialogue and puzzles as there’s nothing really to collect here. This is fine for people who like these games, but won’t be for the people who have to unlock everything.

Replayability Rating: Mediocre

screen003Balance
While the other chapters have run around 2 hours to beat, this one will probably take most people a bit longer, mainly because of the steps you need to take to get things done in their varying orders. This isn’t a bad thing, as it’s still highly entertaining, but you’re going to need to give yourself a little more time to get it done. Also, being the fourth chapter, the series puzzles have gotten a bit more complex as they go, which is something we like to see.

So if the 5th chapter keeps up with the complexity, you’re really getting a fantastic deal on this set. It’s priced well, and it’s a fun series. What’s not to like?

Balance Rating: Great

Originality
While this game is a nice addition to the series, and this is really the first time it’s been episodic, there isn’t much that’s original here. You’re still dealing with the overall main villain, the same hero, his wife, and a few other pop-ups from previous games. So while this has a fresh new spin it’s mostly things I’ve seen before. And again, it’s a sequel, so, um, yeah.

The trial is a nice touch, and all the other additions to this in the form of their respective parodies and the ridiculousness of the whole trial in general was a ton of fun. But with being a parody and a continuation of the first games, you’re not going to get much original here, except in the form of story-telling.

Originality Rating: Mediocre

screen004Addictiveness
Shortness aside, this game does suck you in even when you’re frustrated because you’re missing something obvious about the current puzzle that’s staring you in the face. When I actually got down to play this game it was a fast two and a half hours, but it was the only thing going on and I didn’t really take a break from it until those end credits rolled. Then I wanted more.

What I said before still applies for the most part, but this chapter took me several more hours than the others to get through. The challenges are a bit harder, and timing is everything. If I didn’t have to wait for the last chapter I’d be wanting to play that one too.

Addictiveness Rating: Classic

Appeal Factor
Four chapters in, and it’s still got that Monkey Island feel. This chapter is a bit more complex and may take a little longer than the others, but it’s still a lot of fun to play and beat. With only one more chapter to go, I’m hanging on in hope for our hero. Telltale has done a great job with this, and as I’ve said before any fan of the Monkey Island series should give this game a shot. It’s got a lot of charm to it, even if it has jumped to 3D. I know there are some old school players who’ll be shaking their heads, but this game series has it going on.

Appeal Factor Rating: Classic

Miscellaneous
One thing I’d like to touch on here since I didn’t have any glitches, is how well emotion is coming across while I’m playing this game. At the beginning you can really see how torn Morgan is to be turning our Mighty Pirate over to the Marquis De Singe. One thing Telltale has really captured is this kind of inner conflict with her, and even with the others. They have this great emotional oomph to them which really says a lot to the quality of the animators and designers that they’re able to carry that off so well in a video game. Not very many companies can capture that look and feel and this chapter really plays that off well with several different scenes.

Miscellaneous Rating: Incredible

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Classic
Graphics Rating: Good
Sound Rating: Very Good
Control and Gameplay Rating: Great
Replayability Rating: Mediocre
Balance Rating: Great
Originality Rating: Mediocre
Addictiveness Rating: Classic
Appeal Factor Rating: Classic
Miscellaneous Rating: Incredible
FINAL SCORE: VERY GOOD GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresize Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4 really tackles the herculean task of telling its own story, tying up elements from the other chapters, and getting you ready for the last installment in chapter 5. The comedy is still there, and the puzzles and gameplay have gotten a bit more complex, which is nice to see. Telltale has done a fantastic job with this series which has been a joy to play and I look forward to the last chapter and would love to see more from them. If you liked the originals, you should definitely check this out. Only one more month and it’s all out and ready to play from start to finish. Don’t let our Mighty Pirate down.

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