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Posted at 18:14 on October 11th, 2022 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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[Again, take my comments with a grain of salt, not having first hand experience with the game.]

The last thing you say is quite typical of our age. What sells best is what does not offend anyone. Offending people being extremely easy these days, producers tread overly carefully. Nobody wants to risk anything anymore. Forgetting that absence of negatives is not the same as creating positives.

That said, I do quite firmly believe that the message put forward by Return of the journey being its own reward is the right one. The "secret" being either a big, pure MacGuffin or the revelation that these games are, after all, a proverbial ride in an amusement park. Both come down to the same, just looking at it from different angles. I feel it's appropriate.

Another aspect which seems important in the setup of the game is the treatment of Guybrush having aged with the player. His conversation with his son reflecting a lot about the player audience also having grown older, now being in a different stage of their lives. How do you feel about that?

P.S. I don't think the comment about "like every other Ron Gilbert game" is deserved, by the way. I'm playing through his Putt Putt series with my daughter these days, and none of those games contain any meta commentary as far as I've seen so far ;)
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 18:40 on October 11th, 2022
Posted at 06:30 on October 8th, 2022 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Finished the game just now and here are some fresh thoughts and impressions:

The ending was almost like I thought it would be. So much meta commentary and self awareness there, just like in every other Ron Gilbert game. Elaine says something in the vain of "Could the secret even live up to your expectations?" Well it could have, if they would at least have given it a try. Or at least you should have tried to finish the game's story, what little of it that there is, because right now it just stops. Just like in Curse. The Secret is what you make of it is just so lame. As lame as rehashing the ending of part 2. Sadly I cannot even say that I am moved one way or another by the conclusion. It just leaves me cold. OK, so my personal secret is that I never even cared about the Secret, or rather that the Secret of Monkey Island was always the underground layer of LeChuck to me. The ending of LeChucks revenge was just a stupid cliff hanger, and that was what most people were actually interested in I guess. So, a pirate amusement park again? Total cop-out.

Funnily there is one thing that annoys me to no end: You cannot save Wally! That is without pulling off a stunt that would be worthy of a Sierra game developer's employee of the century award. Easily missable item? Check! Moon logic thinking backward solution? Check! No hints at all that this even possible? Check! For making so much fun about "bad" game design this sure has to be some kind of meta joke that gets on my nerves.

On the plus side: The second half of the game really opens up, shows some new faces and has overall better puzzling, mainly because it is a lot less linear and I am always a fan for parallel solutions. For one it gives me a feeling of complexity and for two I can always switch to another puzzle when I get stuck. Speaking of which: I got stuck once, right before the ending of chapter iv. Who would have thought that you have to pepper the fish *after* putting it in the bucket?

There was one conversation with Elaine on Monkey Island, which stuck to my memory in a very positive way, because it took matters more seriously and felt like an actual dialogue and not like an exposition dump. Guybrush could even voice an opinion there. I really would have liked more of that, but then again it felt oddly out of place in a Monkey Island game.

Oh, and the music was really nice. Those Caribeean vibes alone would have been worth the money to me. ;)

Overall it had its moments, did it's best to hurt no-ones feelings, so I might agree with the general consensus I heard so far: Playable, fun most of the time, but nothing ground breaking. Classic "get-it-on-a-sale"-rating from me.
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The known is finite, the unknown infinite. - Thomas Henry Huxley
Posted at 20:17 on October 2nd, 2022 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Thank you for this insightful roundup!

The big question, of course, is whether your expectations or those of the general public even could have been met? As I said in the initial post, I have my doubts, also concerning myself.

In a way, I fear Monkey Island may very well turn into a sort of Star Wars of the computer games world. Sequel after many, many years. Huge hype around it. All the old fans enraged. The question is just how to map it exactly. Is Return the Phantom Menace of the series, or are 3/4 (or just 4?) the "prequel trilogy" equivalent and Return is now actually the Disney "reboot"?

I now know what "the secret" is, without having played the game. No, I don't belong to the "spoiler phobia" group which is so vocal these days. If a piece of fiction is only worth experiencing for some surprise, bit reveal or whatever at the ending, it is not worth it in the first place anyway. Given what you've written you expect, you may even like it. Or hate it, yes.

It for sure is interesting how much you stress the fan service part, the rehashing etc. In what I've read and heard so far, this has not been pointed out to this extreme.
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Posted at 16:29 on October 2nd, 2022 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Well, I eventually gave in to the hype and bought it this week-end. I got as far as finally finding out where the SECRET lies and my guess is that this is about the half way point of the game.

As far as my first impression goes I would say… meh. It is neither a total failure nor does it really live up to its legacy. Right now I am undecided whether it is better or worse than Escape from Monkey Island (my personal low point so far).

What annoys me the most so far is the story and how it is told. As for the first, it is a lackluster McGuffin setup with lots of fetch quests and to-do lists (the game even has this as a "feature"). And as for the latter there is far too much meta-jokes and slapping on ones own back to my liking.

Minor spoilers ahead: It starts of with a weird resolution of the cliff hanger from LeChuck's Revenge only to go off on a tangent to a totally "new" story. Which promises to finally reveal that mythical, mysterious, melodramatic SECRET. But first you have to gather two things. Then you have to get four votes. Followed by finding out three things. Leading to a quest for five keys. And so on I guess.

Which makes me wonder: Were adventure game's plots always that lame? Or is it just the lack of a proper story hook in this one? There is something of a plot, but to me it is just background noise. Oh and there is a meta-plot told by none other than Guybrush himself. This is were the meta commentary comes into play.

And speaking of play: The gameplay is reduced to a two-click-solves-all-problems-system. Yes, this is more modern and it is somewhat convenient, but it also reduces interactions with the game world to a bare minimum. No comments about stupid suggestions, no hinting to the actual solution of a puzzle. As for the puzzles themselves: so far I only got stuck when I missed an object. Which stopped as soon as I found the key for highlighting the hot spots. So the expert mode is kind of an easy mode, the easy mode must be even more… "challenging".

And for a game giving its best shot at being totally different to its predecessors there sure is lots and lots of nostalgia and referencing. You know what was kind of nice about the better sequels (Revenge, Curse and Tales)? They visited new places and told new stories which featured original and memorable characters. Return returns to a *lot* to old places and relies on familiar faces. Come to think of it, I think I have only seen one set piece that is kind of new, and that is a ship.

Well those are my major gripes, minor ones would be about the graphics and how ugly they are. By design and on purpose. There are a couple of disgusting close ups, like they are all the rave in modern animation by now. The more rancid the better!

The funny thing is that I feel like I just want to know what the secret is, because I am convinced that it will be something horribly stupid, one big middle finger to all the fans. And I am kind of looking forward to getting annoyed about it. A somewhat worrying thought: Am I getting old?

But like I said above: It is not a total failure. The jokes are funny (at times) and the simple gameplay leads to a smooth action curve, which misses no beats. And well, in the end I have to admit, the nostalgia is working for me: This is a Monkey Island game after all! And even if it shows signs of wear and tear there is some gold underneath. As convinced as I am that the ending will be a total let-down, it is all about the journey anyway.

So, should you get it? Well, I think I do not have to look up Guybrush's famous one-liner from the ending of The Secret of Monkey Island, do I? Sooner or later it might turn up on a non-DRM distributor, than it might be worth a try.
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The known is finite, the unknown infinite. - Thomas Henry Huxley
Posted at 08:57 on September 25th, 2022 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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So, any first impressions? Unfortunately, the choices of distribution and platforms prevent me from trying it myself.
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Posted at 17:22 on April 5th, 2022 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Believe it or not, it's happening. Disney and Ron Gilbert came to an agreement and it's supposed to come out this year: https://returntomonkeyisland.com/. Honestly, I'm not even sure I still want it at this time. The two original games by now such an overinflated legendary status that I fear it will be impossible to meet the expectations.

What's your take on it?
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 17:45 on April 5th, 2022
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