When Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman spoke to Ars in April, shortly after the surprise announcement of Return to Monkey Island, they weren’t ready to discuss details on where the franchise’s story would be going after LeChuck’s Revenge. Today, though, a new trailer and marketing materials for the game give us our first hints of what Guybrush Threepwood himself says is “a story about the time I finally found the secret of Monkey Island” (and the first mention of a Switch version, which will be a console exclusive).
It is “many years” after Guybrush’s last encounter with zombie pirate LeChuck, and “Guybrush himself is adrift and unfulfilled” as “Melee Island has taken a turn for the worse,” according to the game’s official website. Love interest Elaine Marley “has turned her focus away from governing,” while a “hip, young” Captain Madison and his pirate crew “have shuffled the old guard from power.” Manic salesman Stan, meanwhile, has been imprisoned for “marketing-related crimes,” which you can learn more about in an interactive conversation on the game’s website (something “non-fungible” may have played a role…).
All those characters and more show up in the trailer, which features signs of inter-ship cannon battles and plenty of sword fighting (no explicit signs of insults amid the sword fighting in the trailer, but we have to imagine we’ll see some of that). Amid scenes depicting plenty of scrapes for Guybrush, there’s also a brief hint that Elaine may be playable at some point in the game.
Adventure game interface aficionados can look forward to “context-sensitive interactions, reactive dialog trees, and an easy-to-use inventory system,” according to the publisher. There are also hints at the same “clever evolution of classic adventure game controls” that Gilbert and Grossman gestured toward in our April interview.
“Philosophically, the interface is designed to sort of focus more on empowering the player to do successful things and minimize the frustration,” Grossman told us then. “Like [instead of] just random, canned responses, [characters] have good responses for everything.”
Return to Monkey Island is still planned for a release sometime in 2022.