Thimbleweed Park is a point & click adventure set in a strange town of the same name, where your task is to investigate a murder. Is Thimbleweed Park worth visiting? Read our review below…
30 years ago I played a puzzle solving point & click adventure game called Maniac Mansion and from that moment on I was completely hooked. I became a huge fan of games that followed, including Zak McKracken, Monkey Island 1 & 2, and Day Of The Tentacle to name a few. All of these games were by Ron Gilbert, an underrated games designer/writer who doesn’t get the credit he deserves in my opinion and who’s games gave me hours of enjoyment on my Atari ST when I was a kid. Gilbert had been pretty quiet in recent years working on the odd game or two, but in 2014 he announced he was re-uniting with the graphics artist from his early games, Gary Winnick, in a Kickstarter for his new project called Thimbleweed Park and although I knew it would be a while until it was released, I couldn’t wait for it. So with all of that in mind, you can imagine my excitement when I was given Thimbleweed Park as my next review and from the moment it started, I felt like I had gone back in time 30 years. The nostalgic feeling I had was accompanied by a beaming smile from ear to ear, bringing back so many memories I had when I was a kid and I couldn’t wait to get started.
The game is set in a small town called, you guessed it, Thimbleweed Park, and there has been a murder that you and your partner have been sent in to investigate. You can switch between both characters throughout your investigation of gathering evidence and solving the puzzles within puzzles, in fact there are five characters you control overall throughout different parts of the game and each one contributes to the brilliant story and incredibly funny script. All of the characters are likeable and have their own personality, even the unplayable characters have their own charm and wit and it all adds to the experience. There are some fantastic moments in the dialogue and you can really see the quality in the writing coming through, it’s something these type of games were renowned for and Thimbleweed Park certainly doesn’t disappoint. There are two difficulty settings you can choose from and depending on which one you pick depends on the complexity of the puzzles. There is a lot of thinking and piecing things together in order to get past the various amounts of riddles and puzzles and you will spend a lot of time going backwards and forwards trying to solve each one, when sometimes the answer is right in front of you. This is classic Ron Gilbert material and it really shines here with attention to detail in its clues like the dialogue you over hear or even labels on food and you really have to pay attention to what is happening around you otherwise you could miss a vital clue.
Visually Thimbleweed Park won’t be to everyone’s taste as it’s almost identical to the visuals you would be used to in games such as the classics Maniac Mansion or Zak McKracken from the late 80’s, except it’s of a higher resolution and while it certainly offers some nostalgic value, some may be disappointed that there wasn’t a more detailed look to the game. Having said that though, I believe that this visual style was intended as a homage to the mentioned classic games and a nod to Ron Gilbert’s early game designs, but I am certainly not complaining about this because it has the effect it’s meant to have and that is more than fine by me because it captures the essence of the classics that this game is a reference to and Gary Winnick has done a great job in recreating that look. The only main difference in this game compared to its influences is that is has full voice over rather than just the text and its here that I feel is the games weakest point. While most of the voice acting is great, there is some that doesn’t quite capture the mood it needs to and at times it can sound a little stiff, but it’s such a minor criticism because it’s mostly on point, delivering those all important sarcastic lines or tongue in cheek dialogue that will certainly have you smiling or chuckling, especially some of the lines that Ransom The Clown comes out with.
The gameplay of Thimbleweed Park is a classic ‘point & click’ adventure game style that consists of a cursor, nine verbs on the bottom left with an inventory on the bottom right and anyone familiar to these games will feel right at home straight away. The verbs allow you to command what you want the character to do, for example, ‘Use X with X’ or ‘Give X to X’ and you use the cursor to aim your commands or point it to where you want to move to and click it. Although it’s more suited to a mouse or a trackball, It all works seamlessly on the Xbox controller with only a minor complaint that the cursor doesn’t always land properly on the command that you’re aiming for, but it really is a minor thing and isn’t intruding on the overall enjoyment of the game. There are some shortcuts that you can use to make things a little easier, like using the triggers to select your character or using the D-Pad to select the line of dialogue you want to choose, but which ever way you decide to play it will be a smooth experience that will flow once you get to grips with it. There is even a sprint option too by double tapping the A button if you’re in a hurry.
With this game being a homage to the games of old, it was to be expected that there would be the odd nod to those games and it doesn’t disappoint. There are references and easter eggs galore which add to the already brilliant nostalgic experience, with some being obvious and others being a little more subtle. There are even cameo appearances from classic characters such as Guybrush Threepwood, Zak McKracken, Dr Fred, Green Tentacle and many more, that just brought back some very fond memories of me playing those games. The length of the campaign can be anywhere from 12 hours to over 20 hours depending on how you play it or what difficulty you choose at the start. There is definitely more to this game than it would initially seem, and there are so many areas to explore that you may not get chance to in your first playthrough, so based on that you will most certainly want to revisit it after your first completion, even if it’s just to enjoy the great story or the very funny dialogue. I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of Thimbleweed Park, it hasn’t disappointed at all and is everything I hoped it would be when I first heard the announcement back in 2014.