Thimbleweed Park is essentially a “love letter” to point and click adventure games of the past, maintaining the nostalgia many folks hold for these games, while also managing to keep up with times and successfully weave clever puzzles into an interesting, self-aware story. At the start of the game, you’ll take control of two detectives, Reyes and Ray, investigating a murder in the town of Thimbleweed Park. You’re tasked with meeting and questioning a slew of the town's residents, often providing hilarious dialog and insight into the town's creepy back-story. As you progress you’ll be able to take control of three other characters as well, each with their own “to do lists” and puzzles to complete.
As I just mentioned, I really enjoyed how Terrible Toybox managed to seamlessly combine interesting puzzles, satire, and story together. Many times I found myself chuckling when speaking to new characters trying to dig up some dirt on the town, to the point where I sometimes found myself distracted from the bigger picture, often picking dialog options I knew had nothing to do with the murder I was investigating. Characters often break the fourth wall and reference the game itself, which I found charming, and it hardly took me out of the game. The townsfolk in Thimbleweed are top notch, and I never found meeting and talking to new characters tedious or boring. They all have something to add, be it a tip toward completing a puzzle, or just illuminating how messed up things have gotten in Thimbleweed Park.
The puzzles start off simple, teaching you right away that you’ll sometimes need to use two or more characters to complete a single puzzle. One character may have an item that another character needs, and you’ll have to trade. Other times a character might have to look up a phone number or speak to certain townsfolk in order for another character to move on. Many of the tasks you have to complete are logic based, and Thimbleweed does a great job giving you free reign here. If you get stuck, you’re able to switch to another character and solve their puzzles, which keeps both the narrative and the game moving between its plethora of locations. On occasion, I ran into problems switching between characters, as sometimes I thought I’d finished in a location, and ran around forever trying to find out where to go, only to realize I had to backtrack to a previous location, but that may not be a fault of the game and could be an instance where I should have just paid more attention.
The gameplay is what you might expect of the genre. You’ll choose options in a drop box such as open, close, look at, etc. You’ll pick up items along the way and have to figure out how to use them to advance the story. It all fits together nicely, and I rarely found myself frustrated with the games control scheme. My only complaint, which I’ve read from other folks playing the game as well, is that towards the later parts of the game you’ll often find yourself with too many items, and as the puzzles and combinations to complete them become more precise, it can be difficult to figure out which items to use and when. That being said, I feel like that’s part of the fun, so I’m not overly concerned about that.
Adding to the gameplay, narrative, and characters is the games pixelated art and sound design. The characters and location design help accentuate Thimbleweed’s creepy/strange atmosphere, such as how characters will stare directly at you when they speak, which something in my psyche found rather unsettling.
I’m not a point and click guy, so I don’t hold reverence to these games, and that’s why I didn’t speak much about the correlation between Thimbleweed and point and clicks of yesteryear. I played and reviewed this game with little experience in the genre, and as an outsider looking in, I feel like Thimbleweed is a fantastic game. The characters and narrative kept me engaged the whole time, and I had fun trying to figure out how to solve the games many puzzles. I’d recommend this to anyone interested in a fun lighthearted gaming experience. You don’t have to have played this type of game before, but if you have, I’m sure you’ll be pleased with Thimbleweed Park as well.
Go buy this game-a-reno.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
FINAL SCORE: 9/10
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