While the previous two chapters in the continuing saga of Mighty Pirate Guybrush Threepwood all took place either at sea or on land, the third chapter of Tales of Monkey Island goes somewhere completely unexpected: inside of a giant manatee. That’s right, the majority of Threepwood’s latest outing Lair of the Leviathan takes place inside of a hapless sea creature, which makes for plenty of amusing situations, in what is easily the best entry in the series to date.
If you’ve forgotten what happened so far don’t worry: the game kicks off with a summary of all that our hero has been through so far. This time around Guybrush is forced to team up with his former pursuer Morgan LaFlay, a pirate hunter who recently chopped off his hand. And while the idea of being trapped inside of a manatee with a deadly enemy who is responsible for your hook-hand may sound bad, it actually works out for the best. You see, this particular manatee just so happens to be home to famous explorer Coronado De Cava, the key to locating the mysterious La Esponja Grande: the mystical voodoo artifact needed to rid the Caribbean of a terrible pox.
In addition to Da Cava, the interior of the creature is also home to a brotherhood of manatee dwellers who want nothing more than to remain inside the beast for all time. Unfortunately this conflicts with Guybrush’s need to escape and save the day, and so he sets off attempting to get the manatee to guide him to La Esponja, which involves tricking the brotherhood into letting him join. The new setting is a welcomed change of scenery, albeit a gross one.
The quirky new characters really add to the experience, and include personalities ranging from a bile-chugging frat boy (yes, you read that right) to a demonic, talking skull.
The story of Lair of the Leviathan is as hilarious as always, and does an excellent job of continuing the over-arching narrative of the series. As with the previous episode, this is not a game you can play and expect to understand if you haven’t experienced the previous chapters. This also means that there have been no changes in the way the game looks or plays: which is fine, as we’ve been enjoying the series thus far.
However, Lair of the Leviathan does offer up a few twists on the familiar gameplay that keep the formula from feeling stale. In addition to collecting items and conversing with other characters, you’ll also have to square-off in a face-making competition and answer questions in the deadliest take on The Newlywed Game ever devised. These puzzles require some close concentration, as you really have to pay attention to what’s going on in the game in order to be successful.
In terms of difficulty, the third chapter stacks up quite nicely with the rest of the series. The puzzles are challenging without being too difficult, with some requiring a bit of patience to pull off. The only frustrating aspects are the timed events, though these aren’t very common.
At the risk of sounding like broken record, the latest in the Tales of Monkey Island series is the best yet. Somehow, the developers continue to improve upon the winning formula, with increasingly sharp writing and witty gags. Let’s just hope Telltale Games is able to keep up this astounding pace with the remaining two episodes in the series. As per usual, Lair of the Leviathan closes on a cliffhanger ending that leaves us craving more.