The short version: I don't like adventure games.
Warning, spoilery, but you've probably all finished the game by now.
The long version: I have generally enjoyed the story elements and exploration of adventure games, but often found myself getting stuck far too frequently to really enjoy the ride. I'll play the game for an hour or two, and then be stuck, and the enjoyment just turns to annoyance.
I got the demo from the website, and it seemed extremely approachable, so decided to purachase the whole set. Things started well, with smooth fun sailing from the start of the game until the three piratey achievements were satisfied. Then things started to go off the rails:
After I talked to deep gut, I was kind of unsure where to go or what to do next. I wandered around at random, and managed to encounter and solve the Doctor experience, collect the cheese, and get the manatee vision. But I was unable to find anything to do with these things. For whatever reason, the glassblower had been so thoroughly unehlpful in the past, it didn't occur to talk to him, and I made no progress at all until I went and started reading your walkthrough.
Other problems happened after that:
- I couldn't make heads or tails of some of the wind-direction following actions in the maze. I was doing it right (I only knew by reading walkthroughs after repeated failures) and could only get through the sections by very very slow trial and error. In the second wind-follow location, the game was clearly bugging out with the arrow jumping all over the place.
- It wasn't at all clear to me that the face that dropped off the gate was an item I could pick up.
- I'd tried to put the windlass whatever thing into the top of so many statue-things that by the time I was supposed to do it I no longer believed it was the right thing to do.
- Pressing the cheese into the eyes would never have occurred to me in a million years. I was busy trying to add items to the cheese or carve markings into it with items in my inventory.
- By the time I had the final showdown with the doctor, I wasn't even trying anymore, I just went to the walkthrough to get the answer.
Much of this would be addressable by:
- Making it easier to discover what is an item in game. Hunting for clickables isn't really that fun. I tried the F4 feature, but it never worked. Is this a joke from windows people? (alt-F4?) I pressed it many times on the mac and never got a result. How about a mode where everything interactable is always outlined, even if it's not game-advancing, for those who don't enjoy hunting for things.
- Improving the hint system. When I have no idea where to go to advance and there's only one possible place in the game, simply walking from area to area clicking on everything isn't fun, for me. It's just a nuisance. If guybrush says "i should probably get some more items", that doesn't really help me. I usually figured that out by the point he says it, but reviewing the entire world until I get another item isn't fun for me. I should be able to say "more specific hint, please". Once I have to resort to the walkthrough, the fun just kind of falls apart.
Additionally, I had traverse the maze several unnecessary times (mazes are annoying!) before it was apparent I could just click on the picture of the island. Labelling the targettable destinations preemptively would have saved a lot of trouble.
I played through the second episode as well, but my heart wasn't really in it, and I mostly just used a walkthrough.
Some of the low points:
- In the opening, I never considered the cable as an interactable item. Stuck from the very opening, in a looping sequence.
- Making the replacement artifact made no sense at all .. one way it cools, the other it doesn't? what?
- Another maze
- Again I missed a crucial item, this time the heat control. I walked over the game world twice while not spotting it, until I asked the walkthrough.
- A lot of fuss made about the tree logs (which guybrush walks around inordinately slowly when you try to do things with them) which never were any use at all.
- In no way did it make sense that the pirates buried the treasure on another island. They clearly take your raft to do it, which the game doesn't present as a valid means of leaving the local island group. I spent a long time trying to find it locally before again consulting the walkthrough.
Again, focused hint system or more playtesting on the clueing would have made this a vastly better game.
Maybe I'm just terrible at adventure games. I'm perfectly willing to accept that. I've talked about them with various peers of mine (same age group, overlapping background etc) and most of them love them and I have not.
However, I had the perception this was trying to be more accessible, and I think it was just not successful at all. The same problems the genre has always had are present here. Unless you enjoy wandering around the zones re-checking stuff multiple times, you're likely to have significant dead time. And when you feel stuck, the only options are to pretty much "tough it out" or read a walkthrough which often causes you to miss the point -- you don't experience the connections and what leads to your conclusion that is one of the joys of the experience when it's working.
I would highly recommend it to any classic adventure game fan. I would not recommend it to anyone who doesn't already claim to enjoy classic adventure games.