Review: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood

October 30th, 2009 by | 15 comments

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That title alone is a bit intimidating. It sounds like it might be a title of a book written by some famous 19th-century Russian novelist, about the grand things in life. Love, death, betrayal, character. And hey, actually, the title is well-chosen, because those are the ingredients of this roller coaster ride that is the 4th chapter of Tales of Monkey Island.

The game picks up where the last chapter broke off. Guybrush has just been apprehended by Morgan LeFlay, and they’re on their way back to Flotsam Island. One thing that you’ll immediately notice is that the game takes place at night. This gives the game quite a bit of atmosphere, and the use of lighting is very impressive throughout. At times it does look as if the characters suffer from jaundice while standing in the firelight, but that’s just nitpicking on my part.

Morgan rowing towards Flotsam IslandThe opening of the game is very cinematic, featuring characters with genuine emotions (most notably Morgan), setting the pace for the rest of the chapter. You’re only just getting started on this emotional roller coaster, and there are plenty of extended cut scenes  that tell you the story. Perhaps the game is even a little too heavy on the cut scenes, and a little light on puzzles.

Speaking of puzzles, I found that these really pick up in the second half of the game. The first part feels like the game is trying to kick into gear, with some loose ends here and there. For instance, there is a puzzle where you collect various liquids, but you end up not doing all that much with them. There are also situations where Guybrush has just read or heard something, and right after he will inquire about that something, as if he doesn’t know anything about that.

Objection!!!But when the game does kick into gear, hoo boy, does it ever. The court case itself is a lot of fun (I especially enjoyed the various exchanges between Guybrush and Guybrush), and things only get better from there on in. I’ve used the word twice before, but I’ll say it once again, because it describes the game so well: it’s a roller coaster.

The first blow to your pristine Monkey Island fan boy head comes when LeChuck enters. He has a very interesting revelation, and all the while, you’re left wondering: is it true? I mean, is he serious? As in the previous chapters, you’re left with a certain uneasiness: LeChuck is a good guy… or is he? A little later, something even more dramatic happens, resulting in a scene the likes of which I haven’t seen before in a Monkey Island game. A genuinely emotional scene, that I can only compare to the scene on the lighthouse in Grim Fandango. It almost feels out of place in all this light-hearted comedy. Almost. But not quite, because Monkey Island has always been about more than just a laugh a minute.

Guybrush Threepwood, mighty entomologistI could now go on to discuss Stan’s appearance, whose voice will take some getting used to – for me, Stan will always sound like he did in The Curse of Monkey Island – but whose jacket is as awesome as ever. Or how Guybrush is sometimes a bit impolite, just walking away without saying anything when you click ‘Bye’ in a dialogue tree. Or how Telltale actually managed to get Earl Boen back. Or how the Flotsam jungle, along with its puzzles, is now a million times better than in chapter 1.

May I have this dance?But all that is peanuts compared to the way this chapter single-handedly elevates Monkey Island to a whole new level. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve grown up, but so have our heroes. They’re not just dealing with silly problems anymore (although there are plenty of those too, don’t worry), but they also find themselves grappling with the bigger themes in life. Love, death, betrayal, character.

Rating this game would feel weird. It really needs two separate ratings. As for execution, I’d give it 4 out of 5. It’s an enjoyable game alright, even with its flaws. But what it’s achieving, elevating and yet respecting the Monkey Island series… I can give that a 6 out of 5 and look myself in the mirror without blinking. Which gives an average of 5 out of 5 I suppose, but ratings are silly here. This chapter is off the scale.

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Posted in Reviews, Tales of Monkey Island

15 Responses to “Review: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood”

  1. Igor Hardy says:

    Very good review (even if written before cooling down after the game :P) of a truly superb episode.

  2. haydenwce27 says:

    This episode felt a lot longer and considerably harder than the previous three. It was also BETTER than the previous three! Club 41, I must admit, was better than the Scumm Bar and the courthouse was damn cool as well!

    —– !!!SPOILER AHEAD!!!—-

    I was over the moon to see De Singe get blown out of the wind machine in a million pieces but was very sad to see Morgan die. I’m not too sad about Guybrush dying because I’ve got a feeling he isn’t going to be gone for long (I’d say a month is the longest he’ll be gone for). I wonder if Guybrush and Morgan will wake up together in the pirate land of the dead and work together to find a passage back to their previous world…

  3. hellbeard says:

    Maybe this is a longshot, but I hope they run into the original body of Murray down (up?) in pirate heaven. And I must say, I was ecstatic when I heard Earl Boen’s voice again. I have that man’s autograph from when I was 11 years old after playing curse of monkey island.

  4. Dennis says:

    If I understand correctly the guy from CMI does not reprise his role as Stan the Salesman?

  5. puzzlebox says:

    Nice review, Haggis. I like the angle in the opening paragraph, and think you’ve hit a great balance between what to say and what not to reveal (and of course it helps that I agree with most of your points!). Good one.

  6. Glos says:

    I have just finished the game… Previous Times when I did somethings always bothered me. Not many locations ,too easy puzzles or too short episode but I would have to kick myself if I said anything bad about this one! I have to admit that I was skeptical about comming back to Flotsam islad… I even thought “OHHH BOY GUYS AT TELLTALE ARE SO CHEAP THAT THEY HAVE TO DO TWO EPISODES AT THE SAME LOCATIONS!”. I was wrong and I admit it! The puzzles were much harder, game was much longer and the plot was getting better and better every minute… Haggis is absolutly right “This chapter is off the scale”. In my personal ranking of the chapters I would have to say :
    1.Chapter 4
    2.Chapter 2
    3.Chapter 3(just because it had Murry and Agnes it’s not last)
    4.Chapter 1

  7. Gorrito says:

    Incredible! “Tales of Monkey Island” just leave me without a breath at the end of every chapter! Particulary “Trial and execution of Guybrush Threepwood” it´s the most dramatic piece in Monkey Island´s world. I enjoyed every moment of the game. At the beginning i thought “it can´t be THAT easy” but then the game turns just like the old monkey island series.
    I belive that our hero Guybrush will end again (don´t know how) in the famous island that gaves name to this great historical game.
    Play it!!!

  8. Marty says:

    Love your review Haggis! Have just completed my own review here: (http://alternativemagazineonline.co.uk/2009/11/02/game-review-tales-of-monkey-island-chapter-4-the-trial-and-execution-of-guybrush-threepwood/)

    I was googling after posting my review and found yours, I am glad I am not the only person to think this episode has made Monkey Island grow up!

    IGN only gave it 72/100 but I guess a lot of people won’t get what these games are all about: a fantastic story.

    For me it is a 10 and I agree 99% with your review, bravo!

    • Haggis says:

      Yeah, I feel the same about your review – I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves it so much! Of course not everyone will like the game equally, but I wrote my honest opinion there, I just love it.

  9. chrys says:

    It is a great game indeed, much better than the other “tales of…” series games. I played it with full concentration, it kept me there. Now, i am split in 2. It was the first time in my life when i finished an episode of the game with a strange feeling. C’mon people, doesn’t it suppose to bring us fun? Why i am sad though? Blood and killings in MI??! But now comes the good part i that found it too. The game managed to drag all my attention, despite the saddest parts! And even i believe also that Guybrush it’s not really dead….damn….why did they make me sad?? Excuse the eventual spelling mistakes, i am not an english native talker-))

  10. Tom says:

    It is a testament to the ability of the guys at Telltale that my jaw didn’t leave the floor and my eyes actually started to tear up for like, the entire last two minutes of the game. I still remember the warning about the piranha poodles, and the part in MI1 with the rubber tree, and the bit with the nonlethal voodoo doll in MI2, and the thought, intact (albeit slightly shaken by the scene in the doctor’s office) up until those last two minutes was “it’s okay, there are some things one can take for granted about Lucasarts(tm) adventure games.”

    Telltale’s changing the game up. They had our senses of humor at “I’m Guybrush Threepwood”; now they want our hearts as well.

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