Everybody loves pirates. From Jack Sparrow to Davey Jones; we’re all mystified by their abnormality. There’s something about the swashbuckling lifestyle that draws us in, even amidst its absurdity.
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Sep. 29, 2009
Telltale Games, makers of the beloved Wallace and Gromit series are at again, today releasing the third installment in the five-part “Tales of Monkey Island” franchise for PC and WiiWare. This issue, dubbed “The Lair of The Leviathan” is the best one yet and will satisfy any adventure-thirsty Pirate enthusiast.
Leviathan begins directly after the events of “Siege of Spinner Cay“ and commences with a short but detailed cutscene narrated by the prophetic Voodoo Lady that’ll get you up to speed on past events if you’re new to the series, or will softly remind you of what’s happened, if you’ve forgotten.
The plot this time around is the zaniest it’s ever been. In Leviathan you reprise your role in controlling protagonist Guybrush Threepwood but this time the adventure begins not on land, or in the jungle, rather the action commences at sea, as the ship you’re steering is swallowed up by a Giant Manatee. You, your shipmates and the ship itself, The Screaming Narwhal, are slurped into the Manatee’s stomach, where much of the game takes place.
Voice acting in the game is yet again outstanding and should be seen as a model for games, spanning all genres, moving forward. You might think a swashbuckling pirate adventure would set up well for troves of corny dialogue lines, but this isn’t the case. Every line, save for a few, are well executed with each conversation flowing naturally from line to line, person to person. Leviathan is an adventure game, yes, but its comedic value is priceless, as countless hilarious quips are littered throughout the story. For example, the “Democratically United Brotherhood of the Manatee Interior” is what the assembly of Manatee-dwelling Pirates called themselves. In short, Leviathan, like its two predecessors is very funny in more ways than you’d expect.
Where Telltale also succeeded so very greatly in Leviathan is in the character creation department. If you thought you knew everything about main character Guybrush Threepwood by playing the first two and are ready to write your biography on the man, think again. With each chapter Telltale not only introduces new characters, as they did in this installment, but also adds deeper character elements and faces to those you’re already familiar with. It’s difficult to talk at length on this matter without spoiling anything, but trust me, there’s something stirring in the waters.
Additionally, a character only mentioned in the first two episodes, Coronado DeCava, appears in the flesh in Leviathan and, with his infatuation with the Voodoo Lady and other oddities, is one you won’t soon forget.
You’d think the whole “I’m trapped in a Manatee’s gut” would be a bad thing, but really, it’s not. Telltale did a wonderful job in designing and digitizing such an unknown and gross setting and truly made it a, dare I say, enjoyable, environment to play in. Additionally, you might also think the belly of the beast is an inhospitable hut of glut, but you’d be wrong. Treasure, enemies, allies, and lots of mystery are yours to embark upon, all within the pink and oozing walls of Mr. Manatee.
The contrast in setting to the first two games, where you traversed jungles, ships, and small seaside towns, is a welcomed modification and one that shows off Telltale’s range in environment design capability. The same determined level of detail and dedication to subtleties is applied to Manatee innards, and this is downright awesome.
You’ll finish the events of Lair of the Leviathan in about 2 to 3 hours depending on your play-style, and I strongly believe this is the absolute perfect length for episode-based adventures. The Tales of Monkey Island series began in July and will run an entire 5 months until November. So yes, it’s short, but the taste it leaves in your mouth is so delectable you’d be crazy to jump ship mid-series.
Of note: I ran into a game-breaking, critical error at about 75% completion, and a quick email to Telltale told me the issue was known but rare. But since the build I played was a non-final one, barring disaster, you won’t run into the same bug I did.
Blast Factor: Tales of Monkey Island: Lair of the Leviathan is a superb point-and-click adventure game. Its hilarious dialogue, unexpected and zany plot twists, memorable characters, the very unique environment of the inside of a Manatee, and yet another drastic cliff hanger, I couldn’t be more excited to play Chapter 4 next month.
Played through entire game. Exhausted most of the dialogue. Did not wear an eye-patch or a bandana.
Tales of Monkey Island: Lair of the Leviathan is available today at the Telltale Store exclusively on PC for $34.95 for all 5 episodes delivered monthly.