Hello! I finished Return last night and have spent a long time reading through this thread. I love everyone's opinions and analysis. Thanks for sharing them.
I've got many thoughts swirling in my brain about Return and I wanted to plonk them down somewhere, so figured this was a good place for it. I'm not sure if they'll be interesting thoughts, and it's going to be scattergun, but it might help me figure out my feelings.
I'm so glad the scrapbook exists and it acknowledges all the Monkey Island games. I love them all in different ways. Every time there was an in-game reference to Curse, Escape, or Tales, I was delighted -- I wish there were a few more, but I'll take what I can get. I also wish Herman wasn't retconned to not being a Marley, just because the idea of Ron and Dave sticking with Escape's controversial twist amuses me greatly.
The opening Boybrush twist took me completely by surprise. I knew I was in for a good ride after that.
Murray is a legend. You can never have enough Murray.
When Return was announced, I was reserved about the new art style. However, my concerns immediately vanished when I began playing. In motion it looks absolutely stunning. The colours are vibrant and varied, the close-ups are funny and dynamic, and it's packed full of details. I particularly liked all the creatures lurking in the backgrounds.
I found a lot of the interactions with Elaine to be quite unsettling. I appreciate this is a weird take, but: Guybrush seems surprised to see her on Melee, her photo with Guybrush is torn, she appears out of nowhere on Monkey Island, she knows how to get to Monkey without a potion, she coincidentally came to fix the Sea Monkey. At the end, where you're going through Monkey forest with her and Guybrush is struggling to keep up with her pace, I wondered if the distance between them would keep increasing before Guybrush is left alone. I was almost expecting Guybrush to have died when he got pushed off the Monkey cliff (with everything else following being a dream) or Elaine to be a figment of his imagination.
I completed Return without using any hints and I'm happy about that. For me, it was the perfect difficulty because I was never stumped for too long. I can see why some people found it too easy, though, especially as the interface immediately shows that you can't use/combine items (which I welcomed -- the brute force 'try everything on everything' is tedious).
Bit disappointed I didn't get an achievement for completing it without hints.
How did Wally know where the secret of Monkey Island was? I might have missed that explanation.
I like that the hover text shows Guybrush's thoughts, rather than just the name of the item. That's a simple change but it works well.
Scurvy and Terror were nice islands, but felt slightly hollow. There were points on Scurvy's map that you couldn't visit, which was disappointing. On Terror, it had lots of places to go but nothing to do and no-one to talk to. Cut content perhaps? I wish these were more fleshed out. I can't see these becoming iconic islands.
On the other hand, I really liked Brrr Muda. There wasn't loads to explore, but it felt lived in and meaningful.
I enjoyed the act on LeChuck's ship where you're mingling with the crew, getting to know them, and helping them out. I respect Flambe's dedication to relaxation.
You'll never replace Earl Boen, but the new LeChuck actor did an excellent job. Just the right blend of sinister and silly.
I played all the old games directly before starting Return and Dominic Armato's voice acting is, as always, fantastic, but noticeably different. There's still the classic upbeat Guybrush, but at times he sounds more world-weary. It worked really well for the character and themes of the game.
So many inventory items were paper-based, like books, pamphlets, notes, diaries, etc. I know this sounds petty, but I wish there was more variety in the items you carried.
The trivia book was a fun addition, though thought it odd that it spoilt some things -- I found out Herman would appear in the game through a question, for example. I would have liked to discover that naturally. I also wish I knew that you had to answer them to generate more cards because that explains why I stopped getting them at a certain point. I'm keen to go back and collect them all.
The music is fantastic. The way it blends between the tracks is excellent. I crave a soundtrack release ASAP.
I've never been particularly interested in finding out what the secret of Monkey Island is, even when I first played the original. I just saw it as a fun framing device for a piratey adventure. Plus, now so much time has passed that any answer will be unsatisfying. I thought Return handled this concept spectacularly, with regular hints from characters that you shouldn't build things up. For me, the ending was perfect because it lets you take from it what you want. I'm still trying to figure out what I want.
Guybrush on the bench at the end nearly made me cry.
Please don't let this be the last Monkey Island game. But I'm content if it is.