Return to Monkey island

February 03, 2023

My next session (as seen from yesterday) with Return to Monkey island turned out to be the last one I needed. That one puzzle took some semi-wild clicking about and travel back and forth, but then the dam broke and everything pretty much flowed until the end credits.

So, what do I think, as a series fan of 33 (yikes!) years?

I loved it, but it interestingly took all the way past the credits until that feeling really clicked.

Emotional spoilers ahead

I will explain how it clicked, and write about my feelings along the way. In the wider uses of the word that could be considered spoilers, so do not read if you have not finished the game and want to do so without knowing anything more.

This place has changed

To start, let me be very clear: I had a good time all the way thorugh. How could I not, with a classic point-and-click adventure game made by legendary creators and all the resources in place to do the ideas justice.

Importantly, I think everything came out just the way Ron Gilbert and team wanted it, or as close as is ever possible when ideas collide with reality. Everything feels so … solid, such a whole thing. Polished to just the right level of shine.

At some point, it dawned on me that I had spent many, many years as a gamer without trusting game creators. Always expecting the rug to be pulled from underneath me, saving and reloading all the time to conserve resources and abilities to backtrack in case the game got stuck in some hopeless state. This is never an issue with Ron Gilbert games, my trust is complete on all levels, from lack of showstopper bugs to rug-pulling, to not needing to memorize outrageous things. I am always free to explore and enjoy, and it even feels as if I can develop a sense of how the game wants me to solve puzzles. I get to feel smart, as if I have seen the matrix, and if that is not excellent game design then I do not know what is.

With all that in mind, I often found myself wishing for a slightly different game. (This is the part which will be thrown by the plot twist at the end!) One that was not quite so steeped in references to the previous games. One which went more in its own new directions. I was wondering if that would have resulted in a even more interesting adventure with even broader appeal.

Then, I finished the game and got a perfect mixed bag of feelings from it. I anticipated some parts, and was annoyed that things turned out exactly like that, while another part of me was smiling at my reaction, knowing that it could not and should not end any other way, feeling that Ron Gilbert had led me perfectly down the path he wanted.

The credits finished rolling, and I do not recall if the scrap book came up automatically or if I clicked over to it myself. In any case, I paged through it and found the last addition.

That wrapped it all up in a perfect bow.

Yes, this game is exactly what it should be. I love it.

Sooo … any chance for more games? Pretty please?

(Yes, I am going to try Justin Wack and the big time hack.)