It was bound to happen eventually. After releasing three increasingly wonderful episodes, the Tales of Monkey Island series has finally taken a step back. Now that’s not to say that Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 4 – The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood is bad — far from it in fact — it’s just that, for the first time, the latest entry in the series isn’t the best.
The episode kicks off with Guybrush returning to Flotsam Island after having been captured by pirate hunter Morgan LaFlay. But instead of becoming a lab rat for the oddball doctor Marquis de Singe as planned, our pirate hero is instead summoned to court to stand trial for some of his misdeeds from the first chapter in the series. This takes up the majority of the game, as Guybrush decides to represent himself in court, defending against various absurd charges like scaring a cat and spilling nacho cheese on someone’s leg.
Your time will be split between the actual courtroom — where Guybrush must question witnesses and present evidence to prove his innocence — and exploring Flotsam in an attempt to gather new bits of evidence to use in court.
The problem is that there simply isn’t enough variety. While the court proceedings are a nice twist, they aren’t as interesting as scenarios from previous chapters, which is a bit disappointing. Eventually you’ll get a chance to explore the island jungle, but since this was done in the first chapter, it’s also not particularly exciting. The only real difference is that the entire chapter takes place at night, which gives the surroundings a somewhat different feel, and fits with the game’s darker tone. But it’s really not enough to make the areas feel fresh.
But that being said, this is still Monkey Island, so it’s still a shining example of a point-and-click adventure game. Though the puzzles are a bit easier than in previous installments, the writing and humor are top notch. The bizarre workings of pirate court are hilarious, and the anger-inducing pirate pox leads to some unexpected moments. But the best part of The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood is being able to see the consequences to some of Threepwood’s actions in the first chapter. Like poor Captain D’Oro, who was caught selling counterfeit action figures on Ye Bay. It’s small details like this that really make the series feel like a cohesive whole.
Long time Monkey Island fans will also be excited about the return of Stan, the fast talking, arm waving salesman who takes on the role of the prosecuting attorney. He returns alongside his trademark checkered jacket, and provides a good share of the laughs found in the game.
It’s also worth repeating that it’s necessary to have played all of the previous chapters in the series before tackling this game, as the story will be extremely hard, if not impossible, to follow otherwise. And though the majority of the game feels a bit repetitious, The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood features an absolutely shocking ending that makes it all worth while. All previous chapters in the series have ended on wonderful cliffhangers, but none quite like this. If nothing else, this chapter serves as a great set-up for what is shaping up to be a truly epic finale for the series.
It may not be the best in the series, but chapter four of Tales of Monkey Island is still a great game, and one that should not be missed by point-and-click adventure game fans.
For similar games, try Tales of Monkey Island: Ch 1 – Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, Tales of Monkey Island: Ch 2 – The Siege of Spinner Cay, and Tales of Monkey Island: Ch 3 – Lair of the Leviathan.