Microsoft has revealed that one of the year’s most surprising releases, Return to Monkey Island, will be arriving on Xbox Game Pass for PC, cloud, and Xbox consoles next week. Marking the return of the Monkey Island series after a 13-year hiatus and following up the dramatic conclusion of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, Return to Monkey Island is arguably one of 2022’s best games so far, even scoring itself some hefty review scores.
That said, many players out of the loop or new to the series may be wondering what the fuss is about and just who on Earth this Guybrush Threepwood fellow even is. Thankfully, Return to Monkey Island does a pretty good job onboarding new players, but to the uninitiated, here is a breakdown of why Game Pass subscribers shouldn’t skip Return to Monkey Island when it joins Xbox Game Pass.
What Is Return to Monkey Island?
Return to Monkey Island is the latest entry in the Monkey Island series of point-and-click adventure games that debuted in 1990 with the release of The Secret of Monkey Island for PC. The original game was developed by LucasArts (then LucasFilm Games) and created by Ron Gilbert, with Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer co-writing the game alongside Gilbert. The game was a major hit and is regarded today as one of the most influential games of all time thanks to its blend of clever puzzle design with sharp, witty writing. While this trio returned to write the sequel, Ron Gilbert departed LucasArts after Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge‘s ending, but not before ending the game on a major cliffhanger.
While the Monkey Island series continued all the way until 2009 – with the last entry, Tales of Monkey Island, developed by Telltale Games – Disney’s purchase of LucasFilm in 2012 and subsequent closure of LucasArts killed any hopes of a true follow-up to Monkey Island 2 from Ron Gilbert and crew. That is, until April Fool’s Day this year, when Ron Gilbert announced that he and Dave Grossman would be returning to develop a new Monkey Island game at Terrible Toybox, the studio behind Thimbleweed Park, with help from Devolver Digital and the recently re-established LucasFilm Games.
Return to Monkey Island picks right up from the final moments of Monkey Island 2, immediately elaborating on the game’s bizarre ending and providing new context on the events of the rest of the entire series. What follows is a wonderful final outing for mighty pirate Guybrush Threepwood that acts as a beautiful love letter to the series for fans, while also providing a fun onboarding point for newcomers by featuring plenty of lovable new and returning characters alongside a terrific art style.
Why Game Pass Subscribers Should Check Out Return to Monkey Island
While there are already plenty of point-and-click adventure games available on Xbox Game Pass, with a new narrative adventure from Obsidian arriving in the form of Pentiment later this month and even some other classic LucasArts games like Grim Fandango Remastered being available, Return to Monkey Island represents the best of the modern incarnation of the genre. While the original Monkey Island games relied on using galaxy brain logic to solve their puzzles, which often required traveling between various areas and randomly using whatever items players could stuff into their inventory on every pixel of a background, Return to Monkey Island features a far more straightforward approach to puzzle solving that still packs all the same energy of the original games’ “eureka” moments.
Each of the player’s objectives are clearly laid out in Guybrush’s notebook, similar to an RPG or even games like Shenmue. The player’s main goal is to figure out how to solve them with the tools at their disposal. This either means using the right dialogue in conversations, using inventory items in certain situations, or adventuring across one of the game’s many islands. If it ever becomes too much, players can even use Return to Monkey Island‘s very generous hint book that rarely ever outright spoils a problem’s solution unless they keep digging for it. Return to Monkey Island never wants players to look away from the game for a guide or even for tips, as everything they need can be found within the game itself and there is no shame in asking for help.
This is a genius approach to modern point-and-click design that sets Return to Monkey Island apart from other, more traditional adventure game throwbacks being released today, like Thimbleweed Park or Broken Age, instead establishing it as a genuine attempt to move the genre forward while respecting the patience and intelligence of its audience today. This makes the game an easy recommendation for fans both new and old, especially since it is packed to the brim with charm and a distinct sense of humor that is irreplaceable.
Fans looking to experience the rest of the series are in luck however, as The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge Special Edition are available on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S consoles through backwards compatibility, making Xbox Series X/S platforms the only consoles with Ron Gilbert’s entire Monkey Island saga fully available. For Xbox Game Pass subscribers, Return to Monkey Island is absolutely worth trying out on November 8.
Return to Monkey Island is available now on PC and Nintendo Switch. The game will release on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S on November 8th.
MORE: Why Return to Monkey Island Being The Final Entry In The Series Makes Sense