As recently as a few months ago, almost no one in the world would have expected that we’d be getting a new Monkey Island game anytime soon, let alone in 2022. Return to Monkey Island’s announcement earlier this year came out of nowhere, but it was the very definition of a pleasant surprise. The classic point and click adventure series holds a special place in the hearts of many, so to see it coming back in what looks like very promising fashion is, of course, exciting to see. Ahead of the highly anticipated sequel’s launch not long from now, here, we’ll be going over some key details that you should know about Return to Monkey Island.
A new mainline Monkey Island game coming out after so long would have been exciting enough in and of itself, but what makes Return to Monkey Island a particularly exciting prospect is the fact that a lot of the series’ original developers are working on it. Series creator Rob Gilbert, who directed the first two games, is leading the project, while Dave Grossman is the co-designer. The game’s soundtrack, meanwhile, is being composed by Michael Land, Peter McConnell, and Clint Bajakian, who all worked on previous Monkey Island games.
NEW ART STYLE
One of Return to Monkey Island’s most talked-about aspects since its announcement has been its art style. One look at the game is enough to tell you that clearly, it’s going for a very different visual style than what you might be used to from the series. Rex Crowle of Tearaway fame serves as the game’s artist, and has gone for a very different aesthetic. Interestingly, Ron Gilbert has said that a pixel art style was initially discussed, but the development team ultimately decided to go with something that players wouldn’t be expecting. He wrote in a post on his blog: “We didn’t want to make a retro game… I wanted to keep moving Monkey Island forward because it’s interesting, fun, and exciting. It’s what the Monkey Island games have always done. I wanted the art in Return to Monkey Island to be provocative, shocking, and not what everyone was expecting.”
SET AFTER MONKEY ISLAND 2
Let’s get to the really interesting stuff, because Return to Monkey Island is trying some very unique things with its story. It is the sixth Monkey Island game, but it’s set directly after the events of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, with the purpose being to finally properly resolve that cliffhanger and other plot threads from that game that still remain unresolved. That said, it doesn’t ignore the events of all the games that came after Monkey Island 2 (none of which the aforementioned Ron Gilbert was involved in). How it does that should be interesting to see, but Gilbert has provided some curious hints. Speaking with CNET, he said: “The ending of Monkey Island 2 had a huge cliffhanger. I never resolved it. Future games did their best but we wanted to tackle it head on. While Return to Monkey Island does start right after Monkey 2 ends, it’s not a ‘sequel’ to Monkey 2 either. It’s going to be a fun journey. It will be an e-ticket ride.”
Something that Gilbert has stressed on a number of occasions is the fact that Return to Monkey Island isn’t going to mess with the series’ canon– which, given the kind of series this is, shouldn’t come as a surprise. As mentioned earlier, even though Gilbert wasn’t involved in the games that came after Monkey Island 2, they are still going to remain part of the series’ canon, and in spite of serving as a sequel to Monkey Island 2, Return to Monkey Island is going to remain consistent with the events of the games that come after it in the series’ chronology.
Monkey Island is coming back after a long, long hiatus, but it looks like it isn’t coming back for long. For some time now, Rob Gilbert has spoken about wanting to come back and do the sequel to Monkey Island 2 that he always wanted to do, and properly bring the series’ story to a close. With Return to Monkey Island, that’s exactly what he and his fellow developers are doing. The game’s official website, in fact, very explicitly states that it’s going to be the final instalment in the Monkey Island series.
Given its narrative setup, it obviously follows that Return to Monkey Island will be bringing back a lot of the series’ most beloved and memorable characters. Series protagonist Guybrush Threepwood is returning, of course, as is zombie antagonist LeChuck. Guybrush obviously won’t be alone either, and his usual cohort Elaine Marley will be along for the journey once again. Hell, even the Demonic Talking Skull is returning. Better yet, all of these roles will be reprised by their original actors.
Guybrush is out to find the secret of Monkey Island at long last, and his journey in Return to Monkey Island is going to take him to a number of unique locations, both unique and familiar. Where the latter is concerned, we will, of course, be returning to locations like Melee Island and Monkey Island itself. As you might expect, the game will also feature a number of new islands, with two names that have been mentioned being Brr Muda and Terror Island.
Like its predecessors, Return to Monkey Island is a classic point and click adventure title, which should tell you what to expect from its gameplay. The story and writing are the heart and soul of the experience here, but where actually playing the game is concerned, you can expect to spend the majority of your time picking up items and managing your inventory, solving puzzles, and talking to characters and picking dialogue choices.
MORE GAMEPLAY DETAILS
Return to Monkey Island is very much a traditional point and click game, but it does make several tweaks and improvements to polish the gameplay of its predecessors. That includes a new UI, some quality of life improvements (such as the inventory now using a drag and drop system), reactive dialogue trees, context sensitive actions, and more. The developers also say that the game’s user interface has ben designed so that it works well with both controllers and a keyboard and mouse setup.
An interesting concession that Return to Monkey Island is making for current audiences that its predecessors simply refused to make is featuring a Hint system. Those who’ve played the original Monkey Island titles (or really, any adventure game of that era) will be more than familiar with the feeling of getting spectacularly stuck on a puzzle and having no idea how to proceed. Speaking with Ars Technica, however, Ron Gilbert said that with the internet and an abundance of guides and walkthroughs, that doesn’t have the same effect anymore. As such, rather than having those unnecessary challenges, Return to Monkey Island will let you get hints on how to proceed- though interestingly, Gilbert has said they will make sense “in the fantasy” of the game’s world.
Return to Monkey Island is also going to feature an easy mode, or a Casual mode, as it’s called in the game. For players who’re not looking for much of a challenge and would rather just focus on the story rather than having to play through challenging puzzles, Casual mode will simplify the puzzle-solving aspect. More than anything else, the developers say Casual mode is meant for those who aren’t too familiar with the genre.
Return to Monkey Island is launching for Nintendo Switch and PC, but if you plan on playing it on the latter, you’ll be glad to know that you should be able to run it easily- which isn’t surprising for a point and click adventure title. Recommended requirements for the game haven’t been released, but the minimum requirements are predictably modest. To run the game, you’ll need either an AMD FX-4300 or an Intel Core i3-3240, along with either a Radeon HD 7750 or a GeForce GT 640, as well as 8 GB of RAM, and 4 GB of storage.