Tales of Monkey Island is everything I loved about adventure games as a kid, but streamlined and available in bite-sized chunks once a month. This means that the puzzles are a little less obtuse since you can’t pick something up that you’ll need 12 hours later and the map is smaller so that if you do get stuck there are fewer things to try every item in your inventory on. Story-wise, when last we saw Guybrush he had just been eaten by a manatee, and that scenario is exactly how chapter 3 opens. That’s right, you start the game inside a giant manatee. Each new chapter of Tales of Monkey Island is a little bit stranger than the last, and I’ll take it because they’re all well-made and funny to boot.
Lair of the Leviathan looks and sounds like its two predecessors so if you’ve played them (and you should) you won’t be in for any graphical or aural surprises here. And that’s not a bad thing – the first two Tales chapters are beautiful and convey just enough of that classic “Monkey Island is a pirate cartoon that you control” feeling. Where Telltale’s chapters make an advancement though is the hint system. If you get stuck on a puzzle the game will slowly nudge you in the right direction getting more and more blatant as you spend more and more time on the puzzles. Be careful though, the hint system is usually talking about the closes puzzle to you geographically and not necessarily the most useful puzzle to you from a narrative perspective.
In terms of difficulty, chapter 1 was middle of the road, chapter 2 was a bit on the easy side, and now chapter 3 has swung in the other direction. The aforementioned hint system is nice, but be warned – this is probably the most tricky of the three chapters released so far. As a bonus there are no map puzzles where you follow the appropriate sound from place to place. Each of the voice actors fall into their roles a little bit more with each new episode, and this time Guybrush’s actor stole the show. You can really tell that the actor is having a ball with the part (just like you could hear Mark Hamill having fun as Joker in Batman: Arkham Asylum).
My only complaint with the series is that I think I would enjoy it even more if I had the entire story and could play it over the course of a weekend. And I think that is more of a personality quirk for me than a slam against episodic gaming because if any developer out there has really embraced the concept it is Telltale and their quick release schedule for episodes. If only other developers who claim to be going episodic would follow their example (cough *Valve* cough). If you enjoyed adventure games as a kid, like pirates, or have any sense of humor at all then you are the target audience for the Tales of Monkey Island games.
Pros: Funny, good hint system, great voice acting
Cons: You have to wait a month to continue the story
Plays Like: Tales of Monkey Island Chapters 1 & 2