Return to Monkey Island is the new entry in the beloved Monkey Island series (are you following?) and the first Monkey Island in 31 years by creator Ron Gilbert. So far reviews have been pretty positive, but scroll through a few user reviews or spend a couple of minutes on the Monkey Island subreddit and you might get confused. People seem pretty mad. Why? What’s going on?
Well, that depends which one of them you ask. Some people were very upset about the new art style, to the degree that they actually sent threats to the developers about it before the game even came out. If you’re at least slightly familiar with how fans treat the people behind their favourite media this shouldnt be surprising, but it’s still totally abhorrent and I’d just like to go on the record real quick saying that if you sent any abuse to devs about this, fuck you.
I’m not going to address the artstyle complaints too much because they’re all totally baseless. The game looks great, and art director Rex Crowle did a fantastic job. If it’s not your cup of tea, that sucks, but it shouldn’t hamper your experience playing the game. You might recall a few other Monkey Island games that drastically shook up the artstyle… Oh yeah, it was all of them.
Post-release, the biggest complaint has been about the ending, and this one I can at least slightly understand because it’s a bit of a doozy. I won’t go too deep into spoilers, but let’s just say that it evokes the mind-twisting ending of Monkey Island 2: LeChucks Revenge, leaving a safe, happy-ending style conclusion by the wayside in favour of a thoughtful, up-for-interpretation style finale.
I haven’t seen any threats flying around about this one, no firebombs or anthrax letters or anything like that, but people are still being pretty mean about it. To them I ask: Why? What were you expecting? Did you actually think the Secret of Monkey Island was going to be the ultimate voodoo spell? Were you hoping Guybrush and LeChuck were going to have a shirtless fistfight on the top of Metal Gear Rex?
This isn’t that kind of game, and you should stop expecting things to be made for you. This was the vision of the creators. It’s how they wanted things to end. If you didn’t like it, don’t be a dick about it. Don’t say it soiled your opinion of the whole series. The old games are still there, untouched- Go play them! But I beg of you: If something doesn’t meet your expecations, don’t go nuts. Don’t freak out and attack people who make art for you. Don’t be… one of those… gamers. Just think about it! See where the artist was coming from. Try and understand why they made things the way they did, and then engage with it again with a fresh perspective. It’s fun theorising about stuff!
For my part, I very much enjoyed Return. The Secret of Monkey Island was one of the very first video games I played way back in the early 90’s, and I’ve loved every single one. Yes, even that one. To see Ron Gilbert come back and knock it out of the park again like this has been a dream come true, I hope this blowback from a vocal minority hasn’t soured his desire to work on games and that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Guybrush. Perhaps a Flooring Inspection sim might be on the cards for the next instalment?