Episode 4: The Trial And Execution Of Guybrush Threepwood
Death is something that, as gamers, we’re used to dealing with on an hourly basis. Most players will see their on-screen representation keel over and expire countless times, only to be revived and dropped back into the game a moment later. It’s arguably desensitising, and bears little relation to death in the mortal sense of the word.
But what about those games in which player death is basically impossible? When Ron Gilbert designed The Secret of Monkey Island in 1990, he outlawed player death from the genre to try to remove frustration from a genre that didn’t require it. But that didn’t, and shouldn’t, preclude characters from being killed off within the narrative itself.
It would take a brave studio to do just that. Even Kojima couldn’t bring himself to bump off the coughing and spluttering Solid Snake by the end of MGS4, but Telltale does commit the unthinkable here. Death is a spectre that looms large throughout the whole of this episode and always packs a meaty emotional punch whenever it rears its head.
Telltale works hard throughout the whole episode to make us identify with Monkey Island’s cast of characters like never before. We’ve always loved these characters, of course, but we’ve never really cared about them as though they were real people. Until now. Certain characters showcase believable emotional motives that underpin the whole story, turning it from a comedy-adventure to a genuine drama with considerable weight. And when that character makes their exit, we would defy anyone who’s played through the whole thing to not mourn their loss.
For every previous Tales of Monkey Island review, you may have noticed our reluctance to elevate above the quality of Monkey Island 2, our own high watermark for the franchise. But The Trial And Execution Of Guybrush Threepwood has proved that Telltale has what it takes to equal LucasArts’s best.