It's been about a year, and after replaying the game a billion times – yes, I'm that obsessed, ha ha – I wanted to share a thorough review. I hope that's okay – I know I'm just some random member. I apologize in advance for the long post and clumsy English.
First of all, I'm an old fan. I've been playing the games since I was a kid in the '90s. I've been waiting for this game forever, and I really wanted Ron Gilbert to make the game he wanted to conclude his trilogy.
So, let's start! I'm reviewing it chapter by chapter.
Now, like a lot of people, I was really curious and excited about how they would handle MI2's ending... and I think they did an awesome job. It's simple but, at the same time, eerie, deep, and so strange. The more you think about it, the more you understand how it can be interpreted in different ways. It succeeds in giving an answer while keeping the mystery of it. I've been waiting for so long just to see what was on the right of this amusement park... It's just crazy to think that we can see it now. We're never sure what's real or not, who is who, when it happens. It could be just Guybrush being old and crazy and talking to himself... or a dad sharing his very real adventures to his son. I love that.
I really like this part. Yes, we already know Mêlée Island from previous games, but it feels fresh, somehow. I love the commentary about Guybrush being old and obsessed with something nobody cares about. There is a deep sense of nostalgia and even melancholy walking in Mêlée town. Sure, the puzzles are on the easy side, but I think it's a good start. It's too bad we can't visit Meathook's cabin. I'm not a big fan of two puzzles, though... First of all, I feel like the cracker mix could have been used to create crackers by adding water to them. This seems like a missed opportunity. Also, the plant for the voodoo spell... It felt a bit random to me. Now, about the mop tree joke... The first time I played the game, it felt out of place. Now, the more I replay the game, the funnier it gets. It's reminiscent of the absurdity of some past jokes, like the chicken with the pulley in the middle.
Not related to this part directly, but you can feel how invested Dominic Armato is. Loved that!
One of my favorite parts. I think the look of LeChuck's ship is beautiful; this is the part where the art style shines for me. The music is incredible, and I love how it evolves depending on where we are on the ship. Sure, again, the puzzles are on the easy side, but I think it's great how we're interacting with this crazy crew. I love all of these characters. Also, an unpopular opinion... I love Jess Harnell's voice, even more than Earl Boen's. I think it's easier for me since I'm French, so I don't know Earl Boen that well. When I played Curse for the first time, I was playing in French, so it wasn't him but Mario Santini.
Also, not related to this part in particular, but there are so many funny hidden interactions here and there; it's awesome – I missed most of them during my first playthrough.
This is my least favorite part... My main issue is that Monkey Island feels small and empty. Now, I heard from interviews that they had to cut a bunch of stuff so that the plot could get going. I have mixed feelings about this. Sure, I really wanted the plot to move forward at this point, but at the same time... this is Monkey Island. And it's too bad that we didn't get more of it. The writing part is very good, IMO. I particularly like when Guybrush falls... and then suddenly gets better. It's weird, and you can interpret that in many ways, like, did he really fall from that high? Is it Boybrush imagining this in a more dramatic way than it really happened? Elaine acts like it was nothing. Again, it shows that Guybrush is an unreliable narrator in a story where we're not sure what's real or not.
Phew... This is going to be long.
First of all, I was amazed at how big this part was. When I saw the map with all of these islands, I literally said: "Wow!" out loud. This made me think of Monkey Island 2, obviously, and I absolutely loved that. Big islands to visit in any order... This is exactly what I was expecting from a Monkey Island game!
Now... To go into details...
Melee and LeChuck's ship – I think they were nicely used. There are some puzzles that were foreshadowed in the previous parts, so it feels nice and satisfying.
Terror Island – I really like this island. I know a lot of people think it's empty, but I felt like it was part of the joke, like it's threatening everywhere you go, so Guybrush doesn't want to go too far. It's just creepy to be creepy. The maze part is smart, even though I got lost for like an hour because I didn't realize I should use the plaque. I felt like Guybrush could have said something like: "Oh, boy. I'm lost. Maybe I can try something else?" The part with Herman Toothrot was hilarious to me. There were so many hidden interactions... Like you reading the inscriptions on the wall, it's really funny.
Scurvy Island and the pirates – Ok, so, I didn't care much for the island. I understand why it's here, it just didn't really seem interesting to me. I thought the seagull puzzle was a bit redundant since we're doing the same thing for the fish contest. I like the scurvy joke, though, and the pirates can be very funny. I like the Stan puzzle, even though I feel like something is missing, but I'm still not sure what. Looking twice at the case to get the license was unnecessarily difficult, in my opinion.
Brrr-Muda – I have some real issues with this island. It doesn't feel as complete and fun as the other ones, and I think it's because I don't get why it had to be an ice island. There is one action we can do with an ice sculpture, but it's only for a joke. Besides that, all of these puzzles could have happened on a completely different island. I know I might be nitpicking, but that was frustrating to me. I feel like the environment should be used as a puzzle. That's too bad. Besides that, I think the characters are great, mostly Judge Plank. The queen trials... The fish and joke contests were easy but fun. I'm still not sure how we could know that the fire could be used as a distraction. I actually did it by mistake.
So now, talking about two puzzles...
Locke Smith's key – I know one island was cut, Cogg Island, and I wonder if it was for this key, because this felt too easy to me. That's a shame. Cogg Island looked awesome.
The Chums – Just wanted to say I love this puzzle. I'm actually a (French) fiction writer, and this really felt like a good way to teach storytelling.
Ok. So now... I loved the build-up to finding the Secret. Putting the keys in the chest felt rewarding. The part where Guybrush finally opens it was epic. And I love the confrontation with LeChuck. Again, really funny hidden interactions with Guybrush counting to 100.
So, I guess you figured it out... I'm one of the people who love the ending. I think the discussion with Elaine in the jungle was great, and it really made us think about Guybrush and the player's actions.
The puzzles get really hard at this point, mostly the last ones, but I feel like it was totally justified.
Now, my theory over the years has always been that Guybrush was lost in an amusement park, and I've been dreaming of him coming out of this door... So, when he did, I was actually really happy. And just being able to visit this last street, now revealed as a park with animatronics... I felt something I still can't really explain, but it was emotional. I think they were smart to do an ending like that, one that resolves everything and nothing at the same time, that gives you time to make you think, and it's really something that's still staying with me as of now.
Also, I think the last shot with Guybrush alone on the bench is very meaningful.
To summarize, I love this game. I think that, besides some small clumsy design choices, it really does everything that I wanted to see in a third Ron Gilbert (and Dave Grossman) Monkey Island game. It felt nostalgic, melancholic, and personal. I like that the game goes deeper into the themes of what's a story, what's real, what's not, and, finally, who cares as you make the story you want it to be. And, most of all, I think it's smart how the game embraced this feeling of disappointment we would have all felt anyway.
So, there you have it, my messy review. Hope it was a bit enjoyable to read, at least.