Story (5 out of 5)
In episode three, Lair of the Leviathan, our hero survived being swallowed by a giant manatee only to be captured by the pirate hunter Morgan LeFlay. Chapter four starts off with Morgan delivering Guybrush to Flotsam Island, the setting of the very first chapter, where he must stand trial for the mischief he caused while marooned there.
Trial and Execution’s familiar setting means that you’ll be interacting with a wide variety of characters. A few new faces emerge (including one that will be familiar to long time Monkey Island fans), but other than that you’ll see a mix of minor characters from the first episode alongside the friends and foes that have been established over the previous few chapters. Overall the cast is much larger than it has been at any other time in the series, which means that some characters are relegated to minor roles. That’s a little disappointing to see, but for the most part the larger cast is handled well. Most importantly, the story retains the clever wit seen in the previous few episodes.
Gameplay (4 out of 5)
The core gameplay remains the same as ever, as you’ll point and click your way through a series of puzzles and interact with items, characters and the environment to progress through the game. A couple of illogical or obscure puzzles show up on occasion, but for the most part the game can completed with logical reasoning.
Trial and Execution can basically be split into two halves, with each half offering up a slightly different style of gameplay. The first part features Guybrush defending himself in court, gathering evidence and questioning witnesses in order to clear his good name. After that you’ll need to wander around Flotsam Island to complete an elaborate voodoo recipe. It’s the same fundamental style of play for both parts, but the former has more dialogue while the latter features the return of navigating a jungle maze. That’s more straightforward this time but it feels a bit recycled, especially when compared to the hilarious court case that precedes it. While this repetition hardly ruins the game it does make episode 4 feel less unique than previous installments, an unfortunate feeling that is highlighted by the return to episode 1’s setting.
Graphics (3 out of 5)
Flotsam Island looks pretty much the same as it did back in episode 1, although a few minor changes have been made and you’ll gain access to a couple of buildings you couldn’t enter before. These new locations, the courthouse and bar, both look nice and have plenty of detail, which is great because otherwise the repeated setting just isn’t as interesting as it was the first time around. This episode takes place at night, and the darker environment is a neat little shift, but it still doesn’t disguise the fact that you’ve been to these locations before.
On the plus side the new character models look just as great as the already established ones, and the episode’s numerous action orientated scenes all run smoothly. There’s certainly nothing wrong with Trial and Execution’s graphical presentation; it’s as sharp as any other entry in the series. It’s just difficult for it to be as appealing when it’s something we’ve seen already.
Audio (4 out of 5)
The increased number of characters makes this episode’s voice acting a little more varied than previous installments. As usual the actors are up to the challenge, although the large supporting cast all sort of run together and begin to sound the same, which takes away from their already bland personalities. However, all the main characters are, unsurprisingly, voiced brilliantly. Quality voice acting has long been a hallmark of the Monkey Island series, and this latest chapter is no exception to that rule.
The music also remains pretty much the same as in previous chapters. This means that the soundtrack remains catchy, upbeat and generally enjoyable. However, it would be nice to see a few new tracks, because after listening to the same songs for four straight episodes they really start to lose their appeal. They’re generally still enjoyable, but even just a couple of new tunes to mix things up would have really been beneficial for the game’s soundtrack.
Conclusion (4 out of 5)
Overall, Trial and Execution doesn’t stack up to the precedent set by episode 3, as it lacks the fresh setting and varied gameplay that the third chapter featured. However, that fact should by no means prevent fans of Tales of Monkey Island from checking this installment out. A slight drop in quality doesn’t prevent it from featuring clever puzzles and hilarious dialogue, and Trial and Execution moves the plot of the overall series along quite nicely. This game is still well worth your time, but let’s hope that the fifth and final episode sets the bar higher than the penultimate one did.