On April 1, famed point-and-click game developer Ron Gilbert said on his blog that he's "decided to make another Monkey Island." Well, it turns out that Gilbert's self-professed hatred for April Fools' jokes is indeed intact, because he has apparently been making a new entry in the series in secret for two years. Also, it's coming out in 2022. Surprise!
Titled Return to Monkey Island, this new entry is a co-production between Devolver Digital, LucasArts, and Gilbert's studio, Terrible Toybox. (If you've followed Gilbert's career, you might recognize them as the team behind Gilbert's latest point-and-click game, the quite excellent Thimbleweed Park.) Crucially, Monkey Island co-creator Dave Grossman is also along for the ride, meaning that this is a true return to form for the series.
If you aren't a Monkey Island fan, it's hard to explain just how unlikely of a collaboration this is. For one thing, neither Grossman nor Gilbert have worked on the series in 30 years, since 1991's Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. In fact, the announcement explicitly states that Return will be a direct sequel to LeChuck's Revenge, meaning that it'll be the true Monkey Island 3 that fans have been waiting 30 years for. This would seem to mean that the existing third and fourth entries in the series — Curse and Escape — have been Expanded Universe'd out of existence.
However, it's apparently a bit more complicated than that, because fan favorite character Murray (from Curse) explicitly appears in the short teaser trailer that was posted today. This would seem to indicate that Gilbert and Grossman are lifting the parts they like from these latter games and shunting away the rest (perhaps even including the Telltale series Tales from Monkey Island). The series has always played fast and loose with canon and fourth-wall breaking anyway, so it seems appropriate. Also, let's not forget that LeChuck's Revenge ends on an infamously mind-boggling twist, so who knows how Return will deal with that.
It's not really clear what we can expect from a new Monkey Island game — other than more dairy farmer jokes — but Gilbert wrote a blog post almost a decade ago that detailed the approach he would take to the game he called "Monkey Island 3a."
He describes it as a "hardcore adventure game driven by what made that era so great," complete with "no tutorials or hint systems." That seems unlikely for a point-and-click adventure in 2022, but then again, he's the boss. Thimbleweed Park follows most of these points, so if you liked it, you’ll probably like this new Monkey Island game. Plus, the art style is just gorgeous.