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Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves: The Legend of Monkey Island

Rare's pirate simulator is set for another massive crossover, now colliding with the beloved Monkey Island universe.

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I love Sea of Thieves and I love Monkey Island. I have thought on more than one occasion that these two game series should have a crossover sooner or later, and after the very successful Sea of Thieves adventure A Pirate's Life - based on Pirates of the Caribbean (which is also Disney) - I was actually convinced that it was only a matter of time before it happened.

Sea of Thieves
The presentation is perfect and there are really nice remixes of the Monkey Island music to accompany the adventure.

And indeed, during the Xbox Games Showcase in June, The Legend of Monkey Island expansion was announced. As with A Pirate's Life, it's a set-up designed to really fit the the franchise its based on, and that means you don't have to climb up the mast to lookout in fear of pirates gunning for your loot. Instead, this is a point and click adventure in three parts, with at least the first chapter set on classic Mêlée Island.

Ron Gilbert's three Monkey Island games are some of the best adventures the genre has to offer (the most recent and probably last, Return to Monkey Island, was launched in 2022), and I was curious to see how Rare could carry on this legacy. The answer is that they have done so with lots of love and fan service, but with that said, they have failed to capture Gilbert's brilliance when it comes to dialogue and overall story. Also, the adventuring is somewhat hampered by the fact that this is, after all, Sea of Thieves at its core and not a point and click game.

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But let's start with the fun. Similar to when you play A Pirate's Life, you start The Legend of Monkey Island by talking to Capsize Charters at the Outpost you begin at. By accepting a Tall Tale, you can then set sail to enter a cliff with a portal that takes you to another world. After a brief presentation of the basic premise from Guybrush Threepwood, you arrive at Mêlée Island. And it should be said right away that this is the main attraction for me.

Sea of Thieves
You start this free adventure by travelling into the portal that appears. And yes, you can now dress up your pirate as LeChuck.

The little pirate village is beautifully recreated exactly as I imagined it would look. Despite having only visited it in two dimensions before, everything is so well planned that I immediately understand how to navigate between the governor's mansion, the lookout and the legendary Scumm Bar. The currency used here is of course Pieces o' Eight and the joy of talking to people at the Scumm Bar is as genuine as it gets. Cobb is still talking about Loom, Murray has an attitude, the chef has down-to-earth problems, and the Important Looking Pirates are unreasonable.

In a brisk pace, I also meet Men of Low Moral Fiber, find a Rubber Chicken With A Pulley In The Middle and once again have to outwit sneaky piranha poodles. There is minimal action sequences and The Legend of Monkey Island is all about talking to people, finding secrets and coming up with strange solutions. It's also designed as a point and click game, which means a lot of running back and forth, dialogue where I have to listen to people for clues, and the satisfaction of cracking a farfetched puzzle.

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Sea of Thieves
Mêlée Island has never looked better, but feels more like a beautiful backdrop than a real place.

But if I play single player, the game becomes very slow. I'm more accepting of slowly going back and forth in a classic title in this genre, but in Sea of Thieves it feels a bit too sleepy. Fortunately you can solve this by playing together with others and thus being at multiple places at once, but the puzzles can be solved individually and the risk of your friend(s) talking to people and doing things you miss is bound to happen.

Also, the story building relies a bit too much on the fact that the world is so beautifully recreated, the remixes of the Monkey Island music are so good and the fan service is top notch. Ron Gilbert was not involved in this project, and it's telling that his Return to Monkey Island offered a completely rewritten story, a new game system and a new graphics style. His genius lies in not repeating himself.

Sea of ThievesSea of Thieves
Rare has done its homework and the amount of fan service is incredible, something the game relies on too much.

Now, there's nothing wrong with a lot of love of course, but Mêlée Island feels more like visiting a really nice theme park. I know I'm not at Hogwarts when I visit Universal in Orlando, but it almost feels like it and it's nice to just walk around and look at surroundings where everything we love from the world of Harry Potter is squeezed into a small area. This is also true here and is the main attraction, because it's never truly fun to play, even if the puzzles are well done.

The pace is just a bit too slow, the multiplayer systems are not optimal, the dialogue lacks Gilbert's genius touch and Sea of Thieves is not created to be a point and click adventure game after all. Rare has done the best they can with what they got and I look forward to more of this, but it's mainly something charming for the fans rather than something that will make a new audience discover the wonderful world of the devious LeChuck and the beardless pirate Guybrush Threepwood.

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06 Gamereactor UK
6 / 10
+
Wonderful presentation. Mêlée Island is lovely to explore. Completely free. Sweet music. Well made puzzles.
-
Not great for multiplayer. Very slow pace. Lacks the publishers' brilliance. Clumsy game controls.
overall score
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