Overall thoughts and rating of RtMI (Spoilers)

A thread to share your overall thoughts and ratings of RtMI…

I’d give the game maybe a 7/10 overall.

I didn’t really like the very beginning - how it linked back to MI2 was ok, but the overall tone of everything just kind of annoyed me.

But then the whole middle part of the game I thought was great, although it was pretty easy (even though I was playing it on hard mode), I only briefly had to wander around a bit three times (putting enough gunk on the porthole, using the sign to go back to the start of the twisty maze before taking the seasons path, figuring out to put the fish in pot first before peppering it) and didn’t need to use the hint book at all.

The end was “ehhhh?”, though I liked the end plaque thing saying “Historic landmark: The Original Secret, a pirate adventure park. Established 1989 by R. Gilbert.”, that was a nice touch.
But for me the ending took the wind out of the sails of the game, it was underwhelming and ended a good game on an odd feel/emotion.

I thought the game had a lot of great funny moments throughout, though I was hurrying a lot of it along to find out the secret.

EDIT: after having had a day to sit and ponder the ending and the rest of the game, I changed my score from 8/10 down to 7/10.
The ending leaves a pretty bitter aftertaste that sticks around.

(I’m still early in Part 1, so I’m only skimming threads like these carefully.)

A lot of Reddit seems to be ranking this game somewhere between third and fifth best. The most common ranking I’ve seen has put it in fourth place, with MI1/MI2/M3 ahead of it (in various orders) and MI4/MI5 behind it (also in various orders). I do notice the MI reddit is very friendly to MI3. I haven’t seen a single person rank this new game as either the very best or the very worst in the series.

A lot of web reviews give it a 9/10. The Metacritic user score is, overall, an ideological war between 10s and 0s, but with exceptions.

I’m getting a sense that people are treating it as upper average, or middle tier. The first two games (or for some folk, the first three games) are still safely on pedestals. But arguably well-deserved pedestals.

EDIT:
I’m going into this with: MI1 > MI2 > MI5 > MI3 > MI4

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I rank them -

MI1 > MI2 > Curse > Tales > RtMI > Escape

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I agree with 7/10 for RtMI, its very discussable and every person preference. Old fans vs New upcoming generation, Disney politics and approaches, this all affected this game dev.

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As I already posted thoughts here what I’ll do here is go through rating the game and discussing the ending/secret.

Rating

Ron never made that many adventure games and his style is unique, to say the least. Point-and-click adventure games are an outdated concept now, a relic of the past, created at a time when game developers had to choose between exciting gameplay and exciting story. Effectively they sacrifice gameplay for story. One reason Super Mario 64 was so acclaimed was because it had broken out of the linear-style gameplay of traditional platformers (though previous Super Mario games had already achieved that to an extent) and story did not need to be sacrificed.

There’s a good reason why Return doesn’t mess with Curse and why Ron has been referring to it as “MI3” (even though its proper abbreviation is CMI as given in the game itself): many consider it to be the best LucasArts game ever released. I’m torn between choosing CMI or MI2 as the best MI instalment, and I personally think that Grim Fandango is near perfection as far as adventure games go (especially the remastered version that adds the point-and-click interface to the game), regardless both are truly excellent games.

Ranking Monkey1 is difficult. Part1 is its weak point, especially with insult sword fighting requiring repeated failures and blind random luck with insults, and as this violates Ron’s rulebook (published 1989) in several ways. There’s no incremental reward for winning the fights vs losing them, and players have no way of knowing how far they are advancing towards completing their mission to learn enough insults to beat the Sword Master. It’s also arbitrary because of the random chance element and the fact that players don’t know how many insults they don’t yet know. It’s wheel-spinning as well (or as Ron puts it “caging the player”) and they don’t really have another quest to be completing at the same time. This is because the three trials are not balanced - the other two trials are completed in a very straightforward way whereas this task/puzzle takes the most work out of the three and therefore the player runs out of options more times than not. In other words, the three puzzles to complete the three trials should have been more evenly balanced in the number of steps/amount of work required to complete each one. Due to the issues with Part 1 I’m ranking MI1 as 7.5/10.

Return’s major issues are: (1) It does not feel like a proper standalone instalment and is far too reliant on the player’s previous knowledge and experience with playing MI1. MI2 and Curse both feel like proper standalone games, and the player’s experience is not downgraded if they haven’t played the previous instalment/s. (2) the lack of a proper MacGuffin to drive the story & consequently the ending/“secret”. (3) it doesn’t have as many “memorable” moments as compared with previous games. (4) the interface with no verbs at all is a serious downgrade, although it must be said that the to-do list, the in-game hint system, and the easier access to the island maps are all major upgrades to the player interface. However with no verbs you never get quirky responses from Guybrush when trying to do futile things. This was as a result of being forced to plan for every interaction the player could take, whereas when the game decides you can only the option of one or two interaction options all the quirkiness inherent in doing weird things is removed from the game and the player experience suffers as a result. With a better player interface I would have ranked Return as 7.5/10.

Therefore Return ranks fourth with with Tales coming fifth and Escape obviously best left forgotten.

Ranking

  • MI2 & CMI : 9/10
  • MI1 : 7.5/10
  • RMI : 6.5/10
  • TMI : 5.5*/10 (estimate without re-playing)
  • EMI

SPOILER ALERT

The secret & ending

What this game lacks is a MacGuffin that the player can engage with. No ordinary punter cares about learning the true secret conjured up in 1989, especially as it turns out to be little more than the inspiration for the idea/an in-joke and was already figured out as it is.

Here’s the problem with the ending: Ron violates his own rulebook. Yes that one again, read it well. End objectives need to be clear, but they aren’t and this is the very first rule! The end objective in this game is to break out of an Escape Room. But the story never lets you know that this is the objective, and you don’t discover that you are in one until after you solve the last puzzle of the game and break out of it. Therefore the play has had no idea that’s what they were working towards and there’s no satisfaction in it. Ron criticised Curse for marrying Guybrush and Elaine, but at least the player had a meaningful MacGuffin they could believe in, and in the end they achieve the goal and get the girl.

The ending came as no surprise to me, but this required external knowledge. The secret was figured in almost every detail some 15+ years ago now with Ron never acknowledging it. For many players not expecting it they will be very dissatisfied with it.

This was avoidable. You can do two things at once. You could have let the player know that Guybrush is trapped and must escape, and that it is the ultimate goal of the game. “Escape from LeChuck”. Or you could have had a different MacGuffin, as long as it’s something for the player to believe in and feel they achieved at the end.

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Parts 1-3 were okay. I really, REALLY disliked the intro portion with the kids. I also didn’t like the frame story of Guybrush with Boybrush and every time it was cut to I was annoyed. I didn’t think it added anything. I didn’t think it was a nice looking shot. It often felt very clunky jumping in and out of it.

Part four was very fun and a lot more of what I want from these games, where it feels like there are a bunch of mysteries happening at once and I unravel a little here and a little there. Sometimes I was bothered because I would have an interaction and momentarily feel proud that I’d solved it, only for the character I was talking to to immediately spell out what I had figured out (“if you had a picture that could show me that you had actually met!”). This happened more earlier in the game, but it did happen a lot more throughout than I’d like.

As mentioned in the other thread where I gave two examples, I did use the hint book twice by the time I was partway into part four. I wound up using it a few more times, but as usual they were things I had figured out but not finished due to a small issue—like I was going crazy that I couldn’t get back to the beginning of the twisty tunnels even though I was sure I knew how to solve it (I had to use the hint book to realize that the sign would get me back to the start) or thinking that I couldn’t drink the grog soup or whatever to help my burp even though I wanted to because the game had never let me prior (from the hint book I realized I needed to go back and get a fresh one).

Maybe those are cases where more verbs and interactions having to be written for them could have given me more of a clue.

I know I’m being very negative but I want to reiterate that I mostly enjoyed the game and I really, really liked part four.

I didn’t like the ending at all. I didn’t like the ending of MI2 either. This one felt worse though. Just here, nothing. I know a lot of people didn’t like the ending to Thimbleweed Park, but I liked that one because it unraveled as an entire concept during the final act of the game in a way that was interesting and fun for me. And ultimately as I said before, if an ending to a video game doesn’t work for me it doesn’t really ruin anything. For me the story in a game like this (as opposed to a movie) functions more like a framework for puzzles, funny interactions, etc etc and if the ending itself doesn’t work for me that is okay as long as I had fun playing along the way. But in this case, not liking the ending felt more like a womp womp because how suddenly it came about. It did not ruin the hours I had played, but I was building up to a final confrontation and climax with LeChuck and getting to the Secret as I entered that room—and then poof. Nothing.

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I thought the ending was amazing, it couldn’t be better.

I am talking about the ending where you discover the secret is a lousy t-shirt, you switch off the park, and it ends with guybrush on the bench staring at you in silence. Magnificent.

:smiling_face_with_tear:

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You have me intrigued here because, though you talk about Secret’s weak point being Part 1, you describe this weak point entirely as the Insult Swordfighting section.

Yet you do not say that Curse has a weak point in Part 3, which is a game section dedicated to Insult Seordfighting and an arcade sequence of Ship Combat.

Do you prefer Curse Part 3 over Secret Part 1 because Curse isn’t trying to “balance” the insult swordfighting with other quests, and it is dedicating an entire game part to them? Essentially, this game section is a narrow pass similar to the voodoo recipe section in Secret Part 2 - arguably a single puzzle as a game part.

Do you prefer Curse’s version because the cannon upgrades show you a more visible, incremental path and are generally a fair estimate of when you’re prepared for Rottingham?

This is one of my main issues with the ending…

People have been asking for decades now “is it all just a theme park” and Ron’s said no, leading us to believe it’s something people haven’t thought of.

Also he’s used essentially the same ending three times now (MI2, TWP, RtMI), with some kind of variation of “it was all a dream / it’s ambiguous so you decide yourself”.

I think doing it once without the player knowing it was coming is fine and the idea is fine, but when I opened the door at the end and saw that it was a theme park my reaction was literally, “oh no, it’s this AGAIN”, like this is the only ending Ron knows.

I know he says he doesn’t start with endings, he comes up with the story and he lets it take him to where it wants to go, but then how come he ends up at the same ending so often?
It feels a bit like he gets to the end and doesn’t want to figure out how to make all the plot strands work, so he dumps it all with one of these endings.

Yeah, it didn’t feel like a culmination of events, it was more like an abrupt interruption of events. It’d be like if in Star Wars IV, Luke climbs into the X-Wing at the end and then poof, he realizes he’s just a janitor that works at a Star Wars theme park.

At least this puts to rest years of speculating and wondering though, and the middle part of the game was a good time.

Curse improves the progression by having a visual clue for the player to see how they are going, however its negatives are: ship-to-ship combat gameplay, and everything rhymes with everything making the responses to the Captain Rottingham insults non-intuitive (more than one response may rhyme and be an appropriate response to the insult but the game enforces only one correct answer per insult. Therefore the player has to learn what the game wants). It’s also linear - you can’t do any other puzzle at the same time. So overall it’s a fairly weak part of Curse that could be improved.

The only thing that I can think of that wasn’t figured out was the specificity that Guybrush is a literal flooring inspector which comes from what the Lookout tells Guybrush at the very start of MI1 (“You look more like a flooring inspector but if you’re serious about becoming a pirate talk to the pirate leaders in the SCUMM Bar”).

You need to let the player achieve their mission with a proper MacGuffin, that’s the part that Ron doesn’t understand. The difference between Return and MI2 is that you achieve your goal of defeating LeChuck. That’s why the ending never bothered me - yes the “Big Whoop” treasure was a cop-out but what do you expect from a treause called “Big Whoop” anyway? It’s clear to the player that defeating LeChuck is really their primary goal, and they achieve that. You build a DIY voodoo doll by being creative and without the guidance of the Voodoo Lady and then torment him and tear off his leg.

In Return you don’t defeat LeChuck. Not only that but the goal that the player was working towards wasn’t clear: you have to solve a puzzle (actually a series of puzzles) to escape to the real world, so it’s an Escape Room basically but the player had no way of know that. They would have expected that the next part is they confront LeChuck and have to defeat him again, just like at the end of MI1, MI2, and CMI. But instead the game stops there abruptly, suddenly revealing that you had just solved the final puzzle of the game!!

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If you guys had to say with less than 10 words what the Secret of Monkey Island is, what would you say?

It can’t be that “it’s all an amusement park”, because then the Secret would have already been revealed in MI2, contrary to what Ron said.

So is the Secret “this lousy t-shirt”? Is that correct?

Yeah, I figure that’s how he’s been treating it, like you guys haven’t guessed the exact wording I’ve chosen, so the secret hasn’t been revealed. It’s such a minor difference/technicality though that it seems disingenuous.

At the end plaque it literally says, “Historic landmark: The Original Secret, a pirate adventure park. Established 1989 by R. Gilbert.”

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@Paul, but it can’t be that the Secret is that “it’s all an adventure park”… That’s already been revealed in Monkey2…

Also, the t-shirt read “I found the secret and all it was was this lousy t-shirt”. It didn’t say “all I got was this lousy t-shirt”…

Though the t-shirt is what the secret is in the real world, where he’s just a flooring inspector and it’s just a prize for people in the adventure park.
The secret in the world that we play in as a pirate is - that world is not real, it’s actually all just an adventure park.

Though if you want to treat the real world t-shirt in a box as the real secret, cool, you could also maybe count any of the options Guybrush has at the end as being the real secret as well.

As far as the original secret, what Ron thought up in 1989, the plaque clearly states that it was a pirate adventure park and that that was The Original Secret.

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“Hellgate. Time changed the answer to various vague things.”

Nine words!

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Look, I’m still very very early in this game. Just talked to Carla for the first time. I’ve probably seen more spoiler than I should… (I’ve seen indications that the different endings might let you pick an interpretation.) But… when this game started?

When this game started, it showed me two boys in an amusement park. Before my very eyes, that amusement park began turning back into a make-believe pirate world before they even left the screen. I even saw Lafitte’s Anchor, even though the amusement park reality was wearing off by then, so I know we’re at a Disneyland stand-in. After all, they aren’t going to imagine modern-world stuff unless they already live in a modern world or unless there’s magic.

And then I see Adult Guybrush talking to Boybrush, and he begins telling a story that begins with LeChuck hanging out on Mêlée docks, preparing for an expedition, with nobody scared of him.

What? What sort of reality is this, where people in Mêlée Town are casually remarking about LeChuck making preparations at the docks for a voyage? This is NOT the same reality as MI1, where an island of pirates was too terrorized to take to the sea, and fled for their lives when LeChuck made landfall at the end if Part 1.

But fortunately, the Prelude already explained to me what happened. Either:

  1. Everything in all the games is a made-story combined from sets of unreliable narrators (Dadbrush conceiving the story himself, Dadbrush telling Boybrush, Boybrush playing them out, Boybrush’s friends contributing, Dadbrush hearing the different stories and adapting his own narrative accordingly), which is a very neat and tidy metaphor for the actual reality that Monkey Island is a made-up story told in pieces by different narrators of different generations at different times. Or,

  2. As my son suggests, Guybrush is still trapped in Big Whoop, which is messing with his brain. And hopefully he won’t stop to think about things like the fact that his younger self is talking to his older self, or the coincidence that Boybrush has a best friend whose name is equivalent to the name of his dad’s fictional arch nemesis.

. . .

Or the fact that “Guybrush” is clearly stated to beca FICTIONAL name in MI2. If this game’s ending gives us a “real world” reality for our hero, I betcha it doesn’t think to assign him a nonfictional name. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

EDIT: Also, I played MI2 after already playing MI1 and MI3 and basically knowing what ending to expect. But MI2 was still my favorite for many years. Spoilers work differently for me.

EDIT EDIT: And I’m going to leave this here again:

Before Guybrush, LeChuck, or Elaine were conceived, this was the Secret of Monkey Island in Ron Gilbert’s mind. Whether that conception included a theme park is unclear, but it would be a truth unrelated to the secret LeChuck and Herman sailed to find in MI1.

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I’m thinking that the final “duel” with LeChuck was underwhelming. Nothing like the puzzles to grab Lechuck’s beard or his pants in Monkey2. The puzzles with the statues and the rotating wheel were surprisingly dull IMHO. The real good part was part 4.

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This was a fun game with some great puzzles, also some not-so-great puzzles that just felt like busy work at times.

Did it feel like this was a long-awaited resolution to some unfinished business from the first two games? No. Not at all.

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how long did you all play?

Steam is telling me that I played for 15.1 hours.

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It says 16.3 hours for me, though I left the game open while I went to have lunch etc. a few times, so about the same.

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