Welcome to the depths of a particularly unpleasant hell... ish manatee!
Some might say that the third chapter is usually the low point in a series, especially if it isn't part of a trilogy, but this couldn't be more wrong with Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 3: Lair of the Leviathan. It's by far the best episode yet, showing that Telltale has finally settled into the Monkey Island universe after the rocky start in Launch of the Screaming Narwhal and the easy-peasy nature of Siege of Spinner Cay. Lair of the Leviathan has a great mix of awesome characters, great gags, and interesting puzzles to boot.
[image1]Now, it would be a shame to spoil who the returning character is, but rest assured, it's a more than a welcome comeback that fits in extremely well in the Tales of Monkey Island universe. This particular character plays a big role in Lair of the Leviathan, for sure.
Other fun things that play a part in Chapter 3 are the puzzles, which are much more developed this time around and don't depend as much on memorization. One puzzle worth mentioning even brings back the oh-so enjoyable insult sword-fighting association mechanic, in a romantic face-off of gigantic proportions. The challenge this time is in using the correct comebacks, which might sound like you're doing same thing as before, but unlike Secret of Monkey Island and its word puzzles, you won't get to learn the comebacks beforehand. You'll have to come up with them on-the-fly... or on-the-swim, in this case.
The dialogue has also apparently received more attention this time around. It's much sharper and better delivered, with a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, most of which are delivered by the returning character and Guybrush. Telltale has managed to capture most of what made Monkey Island witty and hilarious back in the day, and it really shows in Lair of the Leviathan, which really makes me anxious to jump aboard the last two chapters to see who else they'll bring back and how those will fit into the new story. New characters are also fun to interact with, and their roles in Guybrush's adventures take many interesting turns as the story progresses.
[image2]You can't expect to get a particularly long-lasting game when picking up an episodic volume, and Chapter 3 is no exception. You'll breeze through the game in about three hours, but you won't notice the small number of areas and the short play time because of how well the puzzles and the areas are designed. The game is brisk and full of out-of-body experiences that lend supporting characters their place in the story.
Unlike past Telltale brands, Tales of Monkey Island has an arching story, and it's great to see how other elements from past episodes figure into this chapter even though they aren't directly involved to what's going on with Guybrush. It lets us know that other B-runner characters are still doing their thing, something that I found missing or under-developed in the past episodes.
If you somehow have missed past episodes in Tales of Monkey Island, there won't be a better time to jump aboard than Lair of the Leviathan. The story is reaching its climax, and with only two chapters left in the series, it won't be long before we find out whether or not Guybrush Threepwood will save the Caribbean and its pirates. It's surely worth diving into, even considering how big of an investment a five-part episodic series is. So if you cannot hold your breath for ten minutes for this plunge like Mr. Threepwood, get practicing.
(Note: GameRevolution does not take responsibility for readers who, err, drown.)