|System: PC, Wii (WiiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Telltale Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Telltale Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 29, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
"Praise the burning face of hell!" The third installment in the ongoing saga of mighty piratical antics found in Tales of Monkey Island has shoved off and set sail. This time the developers plotted a winding course through some of the most hilarious and outlandish material we've seen from the episodic series yet. If spelunking through behemoth manatee innards, delivering voodoo wedgies, and chugging mugs of steaming bile sounds like a good time, you won't want to miss out on Guybrush Threepwood's wild journey under the sea.
The charismatic, mighty pirate has had more than his share of mishaps in Telltale Games' new Tales of Monkey Island series. Chapter one sees him shipwrecked on a seemingly inescapable island after he managed to sink his own vessel, infect his hand with evil magic, and unleash a zombifying voodoo curse across the Caribbean. In chapter two, Guybrush reunites with his lost wife Elaine, cavorts with androgynous mer-people, and is forced to reluctantly team-up with his newly-unzombified nemesis LeChuck. As fate would have it, LeChuck and Elaine wind up sailing off on a pointless mission, while Guybrush pursues a giant, mystical sea sponge rumored to be capable of absorbing the rapidly spreading voodoo pox. After being waylaid by the lovely bounty huntress Morgan LeFlay for the second time, our swashbuckling hero and his newfound foe find themselves swallowed whole by a gargantuan manatee. It gets even better from there.
Chapter Three: Lair of the Leviathan is easily the funniest chapter yet. Much of your time is spent fiddling around in the guts of an oversized manatee, which is strange enough to begin with. The fact you wind up dealing with a band of pirates who've holed up inside the big fellow with no intention of ever leaving takes the cake. These bile-drinking, sour face-making miscreants provide a sturdy foundation for a large portion of the episode's silly puzzle work. Gaining their trust and vote of confidence requires a combination of deceptive drink mixing skills, the ability to contort your mug into some awful ugly poses, and some creative match-making efforts. But then there's also the task of restoring your living manatee prison's damaged sense of direction so he'll make it to the sacred mating grounds where the prized magical sponge resides. You just might have to dive through more than a few fluid-filled bile ducts to achieve your goal. Yes, the humorous gags may potentially make you gag.
Traversing the meaty interior of a huge sea creature is a nice break from the topside high seas sailing and the jungle island hopping found in past chapters. It's a completely different setting from what we've seen before, and it's one that's surprisingly dynamic. Even when you do manage to wrap things up and find a way out of the beast (don't ask how), there are still more funny hijinx to tackle and new turf to explore. Let's just say you better brush up on your manatee 101. Lair of the Leviathan doesn't recycle old areas (aside from Guybrush's ship deck), which helps keep the adventure from feeling stale. If anything, Chapter Three invigorates the adventure substantially.
Adventuring deeper into the creature reveals additional challenges and surprises, including a familiar face (err skull, actually). The return of a particularly evil ("Muwhahahaha!") old acquaintance is definitely a highlight among the assorted cast in Lair of the Leviathan. The few new characters you encounter are intensely quirky and add their own element of humor into the dialogue and interaction. A literal pirate face-off between Guybrush and a scurvy bloke where they duel by dishing out their smarmiest faces had us in stitches. Even the manatee himself offers some entertaining encounters towards the end of the chapter. The high quality dialogue remains intact, and the voice acting continues to be marvelous.