Telltale games released the first Monkey Island comeback entitled ‘Launch of The Screaming Narwhal’ last month to much critical acclaim. It was a success because it combined a fun combination of puzzle solving as well as sharp, witty scripting – exactly what fans of the original series want.
The Siege of Spinner Cay is very much part of a continuing storyline which has many improved aspects when we compare to the first. Having mistakenly infected a portion of the environment with a virus Guybrush Threepwood finds himself on the hunt for La Esponja Granda. Having to deal with a female assassin Guybrush and his sidekick sail to Jerkbait Island to find a trail which will hopefully reverse the effects of the virus and stop more contamination from occurring.
The Merfolk population do their best to help along the way but unfortunately for Guybrush things do not prove to be straightforward. The objective of the game early on is to find three valuable artifacts so progression can be made to the next part of the journey.
As with all adventure games there is much pointing and clicking involved and Telltale do not restrict the environments to the player early on – everything is available and although you can deal with all the puzzles in whichever order you wish, it does prove to be a very challenging game. There were many occasions when I wandered the environments only to see an object I never noticed before and then the penny would drop as to how I could proceed.
Telltale have attempted to make the game more approachable to adventure noobs by offering a hints option which points the player in the right direction – while this might annoy many veteran and hardcore fans of the series there is no law saying you have to use it and it will certainly stop major frustration from creeping into the game play element. Some of the puzzles are that devious and offbeat that when you figure out the way to complete them, you will often end up chuckling to yourself and having a ‘eureka’ moment.
Graphically the game is very artistically designed and the animation and character design of our hero Guybrush is exceptional – Elaine also deserves mention as her character creation is charming and appealing. Remarkably the lip syncing and expressions based algorithms is as good as I can remember seeing in a game recently and there are times the characters current emotion is easily readable via the facial expressions.
Just like the first, the writing in Spinner Cay is top drawer and Guybrush’s dialogue is always witty and often hilarious. Part of this has to be down to the actor Dominic Amato who is able to inject a high level of personality into the character – meaning he is never merely two dimensional. Alexandra Boyd handles the duties of Elaine and her input helps to round out the overall dialogue. The only downside is that some of the lesser characters in the game seem to be a little bit of an afterthought which can be noticeable at times and detract a little from the overall polish.
Unfortunately this ethic translates a little to the environments and while there are plenty of places to wander around there is a substantial portion of them designed very simplistically, with simple paths and roads or locations with just sand and rocks in them. While this episodic style game content is never going to be quite as polished as a completely new release there is a feeling that a little more effort could have been made in places to offer more to the gamer.
To be fair however, I thoroughly enjoyed playing this, it was a great trip down memory lane and I am positive that the substantial fanbase will feel exactly the same about this newest release. If you are a fan of this series then this deserves serious consideration.
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