After solving the mystery of Flotsam Island’s strange winds and narrowly escaping the Marquis De Singe’s foul French clutches, Episode 1 closed with our hero Guybrush Threepwood (Mighty Pirate ™) caught off guard at the pointy end of a cutlass.
The Siege of Spinner Cay (TSSOC) is part 2 of the excellent Tales of Monkey Island series, in which we find the plucky pirate protagonist aboard the dubiously-seaworthy Screaming Narwhal in pursuit of his beloved Elaine and the un-undead LeChuck. The Pox has spread, and now the hook-sporting Guybrush must locate La Esponja Grande (a colossal, voodoo-infused sea sponge) to soak it all up like spilled undead soup.
Monkey Island is all about puzzles. Well, and monkeys. Fortunately, you’ll encounter plenty of both. The puzzles found in TSSOC are clever and challenging, a definite improvement on those in Episode 1 – they’re not as obtuse, more entertaining to solve, and suit the story better. You’ll probably get stuck from time to time, but thinking things through (and paying attention to the subtle in-game clue system if necessary) will get you past these bits without the desire to soak your PC in grog and fire it out of a cannon.
The story in Episode 1 was a little thin, but as you progress through Episode 2, the plot begins to come together nicely and draws you in. Dialogue is well-written and downright hilarious at times (the writers’ heads must be rather… interesting). Happily, the infamous Monkey Island humour is in strong effect throughout, complete with episode-spanning laughs. From groan-inducing puns to genuinely funny situations (plus a book of the world’s worst fish jokes), TSSOC will keep you clicking and chuckling right to the end.
Each of the characters features wonderful animation and lifelike facial expressions, all rounded off with admirable voice acting (and fortunately the same cast as Episode 1) – poxy pirates, blade-brandishing bounty hunters and disturbingly androgynous merfolk are all superbly realised. Graphics and artwork have come a long way since earlier episodic offerings – the visuals are simple yet gorgeous, and reward you for every new location discovered. In previous titles, Telltale had a tendency to re-use game locations which made for somewhat repetitive play. Fortunately, this isn’t the case in Tales of Monkey Island – areas in Episode 2 are fresh and colourful, with excellent design and a high level of attention to detail. The occasional cookie-cutter desert island seems formulaic, but fits the story.
The Siege on Spinner Cay is a very polished game. It’s a little shorter than Episode 1 – you’ll probably complete it in a single sitting, but it’s a satisfying experience nonetheless. If the remaining episodes continue to be of the same high quality, $35 (around R270) for the series is an absolute steal!