Tales of Monkey Island: The Siege of Spinner Cay
Telltale Games’ first stab at reigniting a Monkey Island series that had long since waved goodbye to better days was – to a lot of people’s surprise – a near unanimous success. Launch of the Screaming Narwhal had maintained all the core essentials that fans have been reminiscing fervently about for years but at the same time, Telltale Games seemed to understand that it probably wouldn’t ever top the original three titles and at no point attempted to, but looked more to create something that would do its legacy justice. It was that careful, earnest stab at a formula that many believed was never broken no less one that required fixing, which has seen the Tales of Monkey Island saga hit the ground running.
Missed the first episode?
Missed the first episode? Check out our review of Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal.
The Siege of Spinner Cay wastes no time in picking up where the first episode left off with Guybrush at the wrong end of sword wielded by an attractive pirate hunter, part time Guybrush Threepwood fanatic. After brief glimpses of that patented insult sword fighting, our mighty pirate, first mate Winslow and the Screaming Narwhal have settled at Spinner Cay inhabited by the androgynous Mer-People, who have found themselves on the receiving end of the Pox of LeChuck unleashed at the start of the first episode.
It is a story that sets up a fetch quest all over a number of different locations; a welcome sigh of relief to anyone worried about mass recycling – the only instance of such a case being a jungle environment that’s navigated in a similar fashion to the one traversed in Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. Spinner Cay itself is a relatively sparse, cramped locale but the characters within and around it make up for that somewhat; exchanges with rebel pirates will raise a smirk and flirty encounters with the island’s librarian/ship repairer is just the right side of creepy. But any real bellow out guffawing has either been saved or rationed for later episodes, or was used up entirely in the first because when considering the bright start it had, the humour has seen a worrying dip in standard.
The puzzles also take a hit in quality this time around. There is an instance of déjà vu toward the first third as players are tasked with finding a buried object of interest by listening to any sounds that might help locate it. And if not retreading familiar ground, then the solutions to a number of puzzles feel contrived and forced; one such particular occasion involving fitting a new mast for a ship-on-ship tussle, which is more a case of grinding and repeating a process until the desired outcome is finally ‘unlocked’, instead of being solved through guile and resourcefulness. That’s not to say that the puzzle solving is entirely flat because The Siege of Spinner Cay does have a few clever tricks up its sleeve, and the overall non-linear fashion in which players can go about solving them or finding specific items gives everything a relaxing pace.
The Siege of Spinner Cay compared to The Launch of the Screaming Narwhal might be seen as a relatively humdrum entry in the Tales of Monkey Island saga, perhaps because any sense of pleasant surprise or lowered expectations beforehand has now been replaced with hopeful optimism. But regardless of its shortcomings in other areas, the visuals continue to be a delight and the voice acting once again is almost always spot on; the new LeChuck in particular is a highlight. There’s enough good in this episode to make The Siege of Spinner Cay a little bit more than just a mandatory stepping stone to the next chapter. But one can only hope, however, that this isn’t the beginning of a mid-season slump.