Friday, July 28, 2023

Open World Action-Adventure DLC Review: Sea of Thieves - The Legend of Monkey Island: The Journey to Mêlée Island

The Journey to Mêlée Island, the first chapter of the free Legend of Monkey Island Tall Tale expansion for Sea of Thieves, is available now. It aims to blend the open-world action-adventure pirate swashbuckler with the inventory-based adventure mechanics of the Monkey Island series.

The story fits snugly in between Curse of Monkey Island and Escape from Monkey Island. The Pirate Lord invited Guybrush Threepwood and Elaine Marley Threepwood to honeymoon in the Sea of Thieves. However, there is a curse that makes Guybrush, and presumably Elaine in future chapters, relive memories of past adventures that create a skewed version of whatever island is being remembered.

This makes it possible for pirates from the Sea of Thieves to physically travel to Mêlée Island. Because of this, Kate Capsize and the Pirate Lord want to hire a pirate to free the honeymooners from their curse. The Pirate Lord wants to rescue them, while Kate wants revenge on Guybrush because he switched his face for hers on a wanted poster which caused her to be imprisoned on Phatt Island.

Most of the people on the island appear to be from Guybrush's memories because the SCUMM Bar patrons the chef, the lookout, the shady merchant, the shopkeeper, the ghost pirates, Otis the prisoner, and the three loitering pirates all appeared in Guybrush's first adventure. The presence of Murray could be from the skewed memories due to the curse. I'm glad the latter was included as I really loved Murray in this chapter, especially after he gets what he wants. The animators deserve a raise for Murray's animations.

One character that doesn't belong is a cursed skull from A Pirate's Life Tall Tale who is known as the Cursed Captain. He appears to have actually made it to Mêlée Island but got stuck up on the wall of the SCUMM Bar by the three important pirates. There's a lot of potential for story there and I hope Rare doesn't squander it in future chapters.

I thought the puzzles were fun. I liked how they integrated the Sea of Thieves mechanics into the puzzles too. The sword, tankard, and lantern all were used fantastically. The crane puzzle, especially, was great. It was a head-scratcher, especially when the crane wouldn't lift it. I was stuck for a while before I jumped into the water to see what was going on and saw the solution. That puzzle was something that felt like it could have been in the series proper.

The voices used the voice actors from The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition or Terrible Toybox's Return to Monkey Island for those that weren't in the LucasArts joint. They were just as excellent here as they were in the preceding games. The music was also used well, with the Monkey Island theme popping up as you approached Melee, the familiar SCUMM Bar music that faded out in volume as you got further away from the bar, and Walt the skeleton pirate playing the skeleton ship theme on his violin. Bonus points for the name Walt, too.

There were some aspects that didn't work as well, however. Hunting for pieces of eight was tedious and not fun at all. At the end of the chapter, I couldn't find all of the money needed for the optional content, so I just gave up and ended the chapter four pieces of eight short. The walk up and down the hill to get to the lookout and back also wasn't fun, and he didn't have enough pieces of eight for the trouble. I kept jumping off early on the path down and losing health. Getting hurt was worth it though, because it cut down on all the tedious walking.

The Journey to Mêlée Island was a good start to the Sea of Thieves Legend of Monkey Island expansion. The story, voice acting, music, and puzzles were great. I really hope the next chapter ditches the money collecting and long walks because it felt like artificially extending the time required to finish the chapter. If the issues with this chapter are sorted in future chapters, we could potentially be in for a great time.

Final Verdict:
3½ out of 5

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