People often talk about the “Rose Tinted Glasses of Nostalgia” and you often remember things with a fondness that perhaps they might not warrant. However, Thimbleweed Park, developed and published by Terrible Toybox, is a new game; so how on earth does it tug on all those nostalgic heart strings?
Thimbleweed Park is the latest creation from the minds of Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, creators of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion; so if you’re familiar with those games you should have a rough idea of what to expect! But many people out there might not be as old as I am, or just might not have had the chance to get their hands on these classic point and click adventure games of yesteryear – if you fall into either category, let me fill you in!
Thimbleweed Park is a point and click adventure game with a neo-noir mystery theme set in 1987 which uses the classic pixel art style of previous games from Ron Gilbert. The game starts with the player joining two US Federal Agents finding a corpse outside of the small town of Thimbleweed Park, and then leads on to a hilarious twisty-turny story with a darker side that is filled with puzzles for the player to work their way through – and advertised as “guaranteeing” a joke every two minutes!
As a huge fan of the Monkey Island games growing up (and more recently with the HD Remasters) I jumped straight into the Hard Mode, although there is a casual mode for people newer to the genre, or who just want to enjoy the story elements without the brain teasing puzzles being quite as hard.
And the puzzles can be just as hard as I remember the point and click games being in my younger years. Little to nothing is laid out on a silver platter, and often you do have to just start wandering around trying to “Use” everything in your inventory with anything and everything you can find out in the vast, bizarre world of Thimbleweed Park and the surrounding Tri-State Area. There is a nice mix of item interactions that once you figure out clock in your head as an “Of Course!” moment, and others that make you think “Really?”. Many times, have I found myself going to all of the different locations in a big rotation trying various things, before it suddenly clocks what I was meant to do next, often caused by me playing while being too tired to realise that the subtle clue was in fact a clue, and not just that character telling me not to do something…
Unlike the Monkey Island games however, Thimbleweed Park doesn’t have you follow a single character (no matter how awesome Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate, might be). Instead Thimbleweed Park has you, eventually, switching between five characters with absolutely nothing in common, to solve the mysteries hidden in the rundown forgotten town of Thimbleweed Park. As the game’s tagline states: “In a town like Thimbleweed Park, a dead body is the least of your problems”.
These five characters are extremely varied, from two Federal Agents, to a young girl with aspirations of being an adventure game programmer, to a ghost and lastly to the incredibly crass Ransome the Clown:
What I really love about Thimbleweed Park, is that it combines loads of things to be what it is, from an original IP standpoint, the story is funny and very gripping, the quirky town and its crazy inhabitants leave me always wanting to learn more, the mysteries of the game just beg to be solved. And with 10 hours already sunk into the game, and no doubt plenty more to go before I finish the story, it has me fully sucked into it. I need to find out why everything, including the toilets, run on vacuum tubes! But throw in the retro graphics, Easter eggs and references to everything in the past and it really hits that nostalgia spot, while being a completely new experience. There are many nods to LucasArts, who developed and published Monkey Island back in the day, seemingly as a way of saying thank you (unless I’m reading into it wrong, and they’re actually upset that this wasn’t also a LucasArts game…) and I’ve found multiple references to Monkey Island, “Are you selling fine leather jackets?”
The graphics, obviously, aren’t 4K HD craziness that your big AAA titles have, but those wouldn’t be welcome here. This is a title that wouldn’t fit that art style. Thimbleweed Park benefits endlessly from the pixelated art style, but without the restrictions of having to fit on floppy disks! The graphics and vistas all seem that little bit bigger and more detailed, while still being beautifully pixelated. But the modern aspects are brought in, and full voice acting is employed throughout Thimbleweed Park, which was also seen in the more recent Monkey Island titles.
I could talk for ages about Thimbleweed Park, but as I am aware that my reviews tend to ramble on for far too long I shall aim to keep this short and sweet.
Thimbleweed Park is amazing, it’s as simple as that really, it is already right near the top of my list of favourite games of the year, and I doubt it’ll budge far. If you enjoyed Monkey Island, or other point and click titles from their prime years, you need Thimbleweed Park in your life. If you enjoy brain challenging puzzle games, Thimbleweed Park could be the game for you. If you enjoy a dark, gripping but hilarious storyline, I can definitely recommend Thimbleweed Park!
It is out now on pretty much everything! Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, iOS, Android with hopes of releasing on other platforms as well in the near future.