I’ve had the pleasure of the Thimbleweed Park video game in my life for the past two weeks and I knew that when it came to collecting my thoughts it would take lots of self-discipline to align everything I wanted to say without gushing too much about how great this game is…….
Can I just start by saying that I'm pleased to say that this game is great!
Let's Go Back To '87!
If like me, you are a point and click fan from the 80’s and 90’s then I just know you are going to love it. I think the point here is, that this game isn’t made by someone who was influenced by the point and click adventures of the 80’s and 90’s. It’s made by Ron Gilbert, the man who defined that era of point and click video games. The guy who introduced us to the verb system. Secret Of Monkey Island defined a video gaming generation and now we have something new to get our teeth into that is authentic and feels like it was made in 1987!
Thimbleweed Park centres itself on a body that has been found in Thimbleweed and two FBI agents who turn up to the scene to investigate. From here on in we are introduced to some of the quirky, odd and sometimes sinister characters of Thimbleweed.
You are treated to some classic point and click puzzles which stretch your brain just like they did when you were 12 years old trying to work out what the hell you were going to do to win the spitting competition in Monkey Island 2! I admit, whilst playing this game I was stumped a number of times which meant I couldn’t proceed. However, after walking away from the game and thinking about the puzzle overnight I was able to come back the next day with another possible combination of what I should do. It really reminded me that back in those days, video games were actually quite hard and you didn’t have access to walkthroughs online. I was put in that situation this time around because no one else has played the game yet apart from the games press and the developers, so I had no phone a friend option to lean back on. It was me versus the game…..although I will admit I did have a last resort option which was to email the press office for a hint (not an answer, just a nudge in the right direction)
For those that may be a bit rusty on the point n click adventure puzzles then there is actually a casual mode which shortens the required number of puzzles to proceed but I would feel a bit short changed if I didn’t get to have a crack at all of them so I chose the ‘Hard’ mode. Also, there is a brief tutorial set of screens which explains the verb system for those that need a refresher and for those that are just completely new to this type of game.
From minute 1 of the game you are treated to a master class in point and click puzzle adventure games as the atmosphere created by the opening sequence makes you want to find out more and solve this town’s mystery. Rattling chains, a mysterious blinking light and a gunshot add to the whole sense of something not quite right about this town. With heavy influences from Twin Peaks and X-Files, you know that this mystery is going to be a humdinger!
The story is broken into Parts and those parts are interjected by some recurring creepy cutscene that I won't spoil for you. The thing I love even more about this story though is the humour that is thrown into the dialogue. The references to old Lucas Arts games are everywhere and commentary on the video games industry is there too. There are Commodore 64 references, Atari 2600 references and readable books on all sorts of video gaming geekery so for a video games geek like me this is just perfection.
I turned on subtitles just so I could experience the game like I used to play point clicks on my old Amiga but the voice acting is so good that you don’t need the subtitles. The character voices are all unique and convincing (apart from the Sheriff A reno and the Coroner A Who who I think may be done by the same person!!!!)
There’s a whole host of awesome characters to meet and each one is memorable. For me so far, though, Ransome the clown has been my fave character as he is the Krusty of Thimbleweed and he’ll get you chuckling every time!
In order to dispense with the need to write things down in your own physical notepad, you have access to Agent Ray and Agent Reyes’ notepads which include a tick list of things to do in order to progress the story. This is a good touch BUT there are still a few puzzles that require you write something down on physical note paper (unless you have a photographic memory!)
Thimbleweed Park is the point and click adventure that all us Maniac Mansion, Day Of The Tentacle and Monkey Island fans have been waiting for. It’s as though a video game from 1987 has been found in a drawer, dusted down and released for 2017.
It ahs all the charm laughs and tear your hair out moments as those great games from yesteryear and yet, in my opinion, it seems to take the point and click genre to the next level for the now of 2017.
If you love point and click adventure games then you need this video game in your life.
If you have never played point and click adventure games then why not start playing them today with this work of art.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to solve a murder……federal agent Reyes coming through!