Return to Monkey Island Accessibility
Return to Monkey Island has all the puzzles you’d expect, and the accessibility available makes this title well worth the try for any adventure game enthusiasts.
- Tab input highlights items
- Simple control scheme
- Book of Hints helps with puzzles
- Subtitles force text colors
- No remapping
Return to Monkey Island marks a return to the beloved point-and-click adventure franchise following wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood. This Return to Monkey Island review will assess accessibility for the PC version of the game.
Taking place 30 years after the original adventure, we follow an older Guybrush, and friends both old and new as they attempt to relive the glory days and finally discover the mythical secret of Monkey Island. It’s the first true sequel in the franchise since the 2009s episodic adventure Tales of Monkey Island from Telltale Games. It’s also the first in 30 years to feature legendary adventure game designer and series mastermind Ron Gilbert at its helm.
There’s a lot that’ll feel familiar to long-time fans here, but also quite a bit different, most notably the art style which replaces the colorful disney-esque animation of the remakes and the Dragon’s Lair-inspired animation of the third entry with something more cartoonish and blocky resembling Guacamelee.
Navigation and Puzzle-solving
The controls for this new entry are virtually identical to every iteration of Monkey Island that came before. Players move Guybrush by clicking where on the screen they’d like him to go. Should they need to interact with objects, players must simply move the cursor over an object, a left click will prompt them to examine it while the right click is for interaction.
The action that will take place upon clicking each button is displayed by a text bubble that hovers over each respective button. It is much more intuitive and motor-function friendly than what was used in the remakes of the first two entries, which required holding a button and moving the mouse to select the desired action.
Gamepads are also supported, however with the exception of an early scenario requiring a sprint, which is the right trigger, I played entirely with a mouse, that being said it is odd that players are never explicitly told how to sprint, so I was forced to use a controller to do so. Other than this one sprint, there’s one puzzle where Guybrush must drink a fizzy grog and proceed to burp before the carbonation expires. Being able to sprint makes this timed action easier but it’s not impossible without it, as I succeeded within a handful of attempts.
Completion of puzzles involves using items that Guybrush procures in often clever and unorthodox ways. As an example, in one section during the late part of the game, Guybrush must have a character’s favorite meal cooked. Upon doing so, he discovers that the dish isn’t spicy enough for the character’s taste> In order to make it literally smouldering hot, he must combine it with something that can make it hotter. This unorthodox method of problem-solving is a trademark of the Monkey Island franchise, and while the puzzles are as clever as they’ve always been, no solution ever feels illogical.
Should players want less involved puzzles they are given the choice of an easier difficulty. This often reduces the requirements available to complete a puzzle. For example, the puzzle above, on the easier difficulty, players only have to procure a spicy seasoning. This is a good effort to make the experience accessible to those who don’t want a puzzle-heavy experience, but puzzles are half the fun in a Monkey Island title.
Should a player ever be unable to progress, the Book of Hints given to Guybrush by the voodoo lady can be consulted at any time. Selecting it from the inventory, as you would any other item, clues players in on how to complete any puzzle and does so without feeling like a cheat.
The hints it provides become more detailed with each use but even when all hints to a particular puzzle have been exhausted, it remains vague enough that it still requires some critical thought. As a result, it still feels well-earned when you finally achieve a goal. it’s not perfect, however, as in some rare instances it directs players to complete steps they have already done.
Subtitles and visual accessibility
Speaking with characters involves clicking them and then selecting from a list of available dialogue options. I don’t foresee these presenting any sort of a barrier for visually impaired players, as the size can be changed. These are set to medium by default, but can also be made small and large from the options menu. However, in an unusual design choice, dialogue changes color when spoken after selection, and is different for every character who speaks. This could very well present an obstacle for those with color blindness, and it is rather odd that there is no option to make subtitles plain white should you desire.
I also never encountered issues with seeing the cursor, as it is a good size and easily spotted. Should a player have any trouble seeing interactive objects, holding the tab key will shine a light circle icon on all the interactive objects in your current location. This is especially useful when the object you need to pick up or interact with is small, or not at the forefront of the screen. As an example, on one of the islands travelled to in the late game, Guybrush must visit “The Unlucky Place” to retrieve a key, but this didn’t initially appear as a selection on the map for me, so by pressing Tab I was able to notice I had glossed over the location.
Return to Monkey Island satiates a desire for classic adventure games in a way that few modern titles of the same genre can. For many fans, myself included, playing Return to Monkey Island is like seeing an old friend you lost touch with after 30 years and realizing that they may be older, wiser, and more mature, but everything you love about them is still there, albeit with a few differences.
Return to Monkey Island is still funny, but the humor gives way to lots of heart, and just like the old friend we haven’t seen in years, Guybrush Threepwood is older and reflects on how his world has changed in his absence. The humor may not be quite as side-splitting as previous entries, but Ron Gilbert’s long-awaited follow-up is accessible in all the right ways.
Return to Monkey Island has all the puzzles you’d expect, and the accessibility available makes this title well worth the try for any adventure game enthusiasts. Additionally, the story will have an even deeper meaning for long-running fans of the series.