Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 3: Lair of the Leviathan Review
The third installment of this popular episodic game continues the story established in the previous two chapters. Lair of the Leviathan manages to keep the series from getting stale by making some key changes, while still retaining the trademark wit and charm of the Monkey Island franchise.
In the previous installment, our pirate hero Guybrush Threepwood survived the Siege of Spinner Cay only to have his ship swallowed whole by a giant manatee. Chapter three picks up in the stomach of the sea creature as Guybrush must find a way to escape and continue his search for the voodoo pox curing La Esponga Grande.
Lair of the Leviathan mixes things up a bit by largely leaving the supporting cast of the first two games behind in order to focus on some new characters. Pirate hunter and Guybrush fangirl Morgan LeFlay plays a major role, as does the crazed explorer Coronado De Cava, who until this point had been alluded to but was never seen.
LeFlay is probably the funniest new character introduced so far, and while De Cava is a little more generic they both enhance the plot. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for De Cava’s rather one dimensional crew, but despite that the new faces and expanded role for LeFlay make for a great change in the story’s pace. Also of note is the script, which makes the game the wittiest of the first three chapters. The change in setting and characters, along with the sharper jokes, makes this chapter’s story stand out from its predecessors.
Unsurprisingly, no major changes to the gameplay have been made, so you’ll continue to point and click your way through a series of puzzles. However, the puzzles are a little cleverer this time around, with pretty much all of them having a logical answer if you think things through. This is a small but notable step up from the occasionally obtuse puzzles of the previous chapters.
The other big change is the removal of the (relatively) large and maze like jungle environments. Not having to navigate through these makes the game flow more smoothly, and again while not a huge change it’s a little improvement that makes this chapter feel more complete.
Finally, while most puzzles are still solved through manipulating the environment with items, there is an influx in puzzles that are solved through dialogue trees. While generally both hilarious and not too tough to figure out, they can get repetitive to go through time after time if you’re taking the wrong approach. Still, they’re great for mixing up the gameplay a bit and giving players a different kind of puzzle to solve. So while no major gameplay changes have been made, small improvements here and there are noticeable.
The game retains the sharp, crisp visuals of the previous installments, although the highly detailed character models continue to outshine the relatively bland backgrounds. The most notable change in chapter 3’s graphics is the shift in setting; instead of the tropical islands that were explored in chapters 1 and 2, the majority of chapter 3 takes place in the belly of a giant manatee. This change prevents the series from getting stale, as players receive a brand new environment to explore instead of having to wander around another jungle.
Unfortunately, the brand new environment in question isn’t particularly large, as you’ll only be visiting about half a dozen different screens rather than the large variety of locales seen in chapter 2. On the plus side, most of the new content is well deigned and visually distinct, as opposed to the largely repetitive islands of the previous chapters. Quality over quantity seems to be the approach taken in Lair of the Leviathan.
The voice acting continues to be topnotch, with all the main characters being expertly voiced. The supporting cast is weighed down a little by some pretty clichéd characters, including a generic nerd and a stock, somewhat out of place beach bum, and the voices for these guys do little to give them unique personalities. However, it’s easy to overlook this minor problem when Guybrush and Morgan steal the show with some truly great dialogue.
The music is upbeat and catchy, and the background effects have switched from lively jungle noises to the sounds of a giant manatee’s stomach. This manages to effectively add to the atmosphere without getting too icky. Unfortunately, a fair bit of the music is simply recycled from previous chapters, and while there are a couple new tracks it feels like a wasted opportunity to not bring in several new songs. Still, what’s present is more than enough to make the audio enjoyable.
There’s little reason not to recommend Lair of the Leviathan to fans of Tales of Monkey Island, as it takes all the good pieces of the first two chapters and quietly improves on them, making chapter 3 the most satisfying installment of the series to date. The gameplay and the jokes are both sharper, and while we get another cliff-hanger ending we also get a few firm plot resolutions to make this chapter a rewarding experience. If Telltale Games can continue to make these little improvements then we should have a lot of fun to look forward to in chapters 4 and 5.