|Tales of Monkey Island: Lair of the Leviathan|
|Platforms||Windows, OSX, WiiWare, PSN|
|Genre||Witty wordplay and Morgan LeFlay|
|Buy from Amazon|
Finally, a hilarious, superbly written, well-rounded entry into Tales of Monkey Island. The first two episodes felt like Monkey Island on the surface, but were lacking in key areas. Lair of the Leviathan may well be the smallest scoped chapter so far, but is highly focused and downright entertaining from beginning to end.
Lair of the Leviathan is the middle child of the series, and TellTale Games could have certainly phoned the it in; most gamers playing this far are probably in it for the long haul, and with an explosive ending in mind, we would have forgotten the stuff in between point A and point B. But writer Sean Vanaman brought the goods and we got a memorable treat.
As I write this, The Walking Dead series from TellTale Games is receiving rave reviews for its own third episode, and while part of me wishes I was keeping up with that series instead of diving into Tales of Monkey Island, I’m very happy to finally be playing the three year old game in one of my favorite series of all time. Better late than never.
Here’s a list of what makes Lair of the Leviathan so great: Morgan LeFlay, the Newlywed Game, a bongo pirate, a surfer pirate, pirate faces, MURRAY!, Guybrush interrogating, manatee matchmaking, and of course, Morgan LeFlay. There are only four areas in the entire episode, but they still manage to cram it full of fun wordplay and fluid puzzles. Let’s take a quick look at all of these aspects.
Morgan LeFlay, a brand new character introduced last episode, continues to shine as she matches wits with Guybrush and poses as a possible love interest, if only that lovely Elaine weren’t in the way. This time, Morgan is along for the whole journey through the center of the sea cow, and is featured in many of its puzzles. The first is a mock Newlywed Game, where Guybrush and Morgan must pretend to be on their honeymoon (because every pirate couple gets swallowed by a giant manatee!) to trick a treasure hunter. Using clues from an earlier check on her unconscious body, Guybrush must correctly infer such things as her most loved pet and her most recent assassination target.
After fooling the lonely pirate, you move further into the bowels of the manatee and meet a new trio of pirates, who are quite the cast of characters. These two areas make up the majority of the episode three, but are used effectively for more than an hour. Guybrush must get each of the pirates to vote him into their exclusive club through different means, the most fun being a pirate face off where you can control three aspects of our hero’s face in an attempt to one-up the other pirate. Walking around attempting to scare the other pirates and Morgan earns you new facial tics that go towards winning the duel, but the final three maneuvers must be puzzled out. It’s a fun little game that pays off again later in the episode.
Murray the demonic talking skull also shows his... skullish face in a hilarious extended cameo that has me wishing I could just play a game starring him. MURRAY!
Guybrush interrogating other pirates for information goes about as well as it sounds, but is another well written sequence in an episode full of them. Manatee matchmaking is probably the weakest wordplay puzzle of the bunch, and relies far too heavily on weak insult-swordfighting-like riddles. Attempting to match up the question, “All of you male manatees are imbeciles. Why do I even bother?” with “The television does not work.” is not only quite difficult, it’s not really funny at all.
But hey, Morgan LeFlay!
Lair of the Leviathan is the best episode so far, and is a triumph in fun wordplay, a great cast, and excellent, self-contained puzzles.