Game Review: Tales of Monkey Island – Chapter 3: Lair of the Leviathan
Release: September 29, 2009 (US)
Developer: Telltale Games
Available Platforms: PC, WiiWare
MSRP: PC – $34.95 for Chapters 1-5 (cannot buy individually), WiiWare – 1000 Points per Chapter, or 5000 for the set.
ESRB Rating: Not Rated (PC), Rating Pending (WiiWare)
‘Lair of the Leviathan’ is the third of five episodes in Telltale Games’ episodic swashbuckling game series ‘Tales of Monkey Island’. When last we left Guybrush Threepwood, he had set sail from the Jerkbait Islands, following the legendary sea creatures in search of La Esponga Grande when his ship is swallowed whole by a giant manatee. This episode has a distinct ‘Jonah and the Whale’ feel to it, to say the least. I highly recommend NOT eating while playing this episode if you have weak stomach.
This particular chapter makes for some very fun times indeed. From the crazy, obsessive-compulsive Coronado De Cava, to the ‘Unofficial Democratic Brotherhood of the Manatee Interior’, all the way to evil, demonic skulls that talk, this part of the story doesn’t spare on creativity in the slightest. It seems that the giant manatee that swallowed our motley crew (yes, I went there) is on his way to the Manatee Mating Grounds, where La Esponga Grande is located, as well as the ‘Leviathan’. The quests that you undertake between now and the end of the chapter lead you out of the belly of the beast (yes, I went there, too), past the Leviathan, and leave you in possession of one ‘La Esponga Grande’ (well, sort of).
The controls and gameplay are exactly the same as with the prior two chapters of this wondrous comedic adventure. You move around with either W-A-S-D or Up-Down-Left-Right, as well as left-clicking on objects with the mouse to interact with them. Conversations are still dialog-driven with items in your inventory affecting interactions, so long as you left-click on the item from your inventory (open your inventory by using ‘I’ or moving the mouse all the way right and left-clicking on the pull out tray and selecting the item) and use that item to left-click on the person/object with which you want to interact. ESC still takes you back to the menu and SPACE still pauses the game.
Those strengths that made ‘Siege of Spinner Cay’ so much fun and enjoyable to play are also heavily shown in ‘Lair of the Leviathan’. I guess it’s difficult to make a ‘poorly-executed’ episode after releasing two stellar episodes months earlier, and having to release two more episodes months after this one. The length of the chapter is spot on as well, being able to be played through in roughly 5-6 hours, if you understand how the game is played and what the quests entail in order to complete them. Another strength for this series in general is the animation. You truly feel like you are controlling the action of a Saturday morning cartoon, which takes me back to my childhood days of getting up at 7 AM and sitting three feet from the TV, watching Looney Tunes, GI Joe, etc.
‘Lair of the Leviathan’ still has the problems with hints that ‘Siege of Spinner Cay’ did as well. To test this, I stood in the same spot for about 10-15 minutes and received the same hint over and over. This bothers me, not because I needed the hint, but because of those that truly ARE stumped and in need of assistance. Good thing they are at the PC with (hopefully) internet access so that they can look at some of the online walkthroughs and guides. I feel that Telltale Games could have put a bit more effort into the hints system to give the younger gamers (ages 10-12) some help, should they need more than one hint (maybe even a blatantly obvious one, in fact). At any rate, change the hints up a little, and this title would be a must-play for everyone.
Patrick’s Final Say: Again, as with ‘Spinner Cay’, Telltale Games put together a marvelously hilarious mini-adventure without focusing too much on any one person. I can see why players of the previous ‘Monkey Island’ games love this one as well. The story is well-told, with enough intrigue to keep me interested until the next episode is released. If you love pirates and swashbuckling adventures on the high seas, then ‘Lair of the Leviathan’ is definitely worth a look, especially as a part of the entire ‘Tales of Monkey Island’ series.