GamingReview: Thimbleweed Park

Review: Thimbleweed Park

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Who remembers the heydays of the point-and-click adventure genre? The likes of Monkey Island brought joy to many puzzle fiends who eagerly awaited the release of the latest game in the genre. Those keen on playing a new one can do so by playing Thimbleweed Park.

A good sign that Thimbleweed Park is an authentic attempt at releasing a new game, in a genre that has become niche, is that at least two of the developers involved worked on similar games such as Monkey Island. Thimbleweed Park begins with a murder in a small town and the arrival of two FBI agents who came to solve it. You could mistake them for Mulder and Scully off cult TV show X-Files, since one of them is serious and has a hard time socialising with people and the other is the complete opposite.

Rather than just focus on one of the agents, it’s necessary to switch between them to make them work together to solve various puzzles. Despite the steep difficulty curve, even whilst playing on casual difficulty, it still feels satisfying to complete some of the puzzles. The main issue being that the vague nature of the puzzles can make them harder to understand and eventually solve. There are times when the logic of the puzzles is stretched so thin that it almost seems like it’s done on purpose to annoy players.

The way that the story progresses also feels uneven at times. The initial chapters seem to go on for way too long as any story progress is minimal at best and then it just goes on a sprint later on. It’s not exactly ideal, even if it’s all part of the game’s idea to frequently mock itself whenever possible. At least it’s amusing to see the struggles of a game programmer. For they are some of the poor souls who work so hard in industry and end up not getting much in return for their noble sacrifice.

At least there are plenty of back stories and what is more interesting about them is that all the characters can be controlled. It’s far more interesting to be a part of a story, rather than just seeing and hearing about it. It’s literally like an interactive walk down memory lane. This is a murder mystery point and click game, but the insane stories that the supporting cast share might just be the best reason to keep playing. Like a clown that curses like a trooper and someone else that dreams of breaking into the games industry.

Sadly a side effect of incorporating so much content for the supporting cast is that they become playable in the game’s present. Splitting the story between so many characters tends to make it harder to follow what is going on and not get sidetracked. It can even make completing the objectives baffling since it will make it harder to keep track of what needs to be done.

Whilst Thimbleweed Park plays and feels like a proper point-and-click adventure game, it also makes a few adjustments to make itself more appealing to a wider audience. A map introduced after it becomes possible to explore areas outside of town makes it less of a pain to travel around. The way that objects are used to complete puzzles is also designed to not be so time consuming. These are the kind of ideas that are welcome in a game that can feel hostile in other areas.

Visually the game is exactly what one would expect from the point-and-click adventure genre. Even the interface itself is exactly how it looked in the likes of Monkey Island. Then there is the obsession with the likes of trivial tasks such as collecting specks of dust. Each of the characters feels and looks unique and it’s definitely one of the strongest aspects of the game.

Despite being an interesting experience, there is no denying that it starts to falter towards the end. Which is a shame since the murder mystery at the start made for a far more engaging concept than what it leans on later on. Thimbleweed Park is a decent enough welcome trip down memory lane for many, but it’s definitely no Monkey Island.

SUMMARY

+ Fascinating group of characters.
+ Authentic point-and-click adventure experience.
- Puzzles can be too vague at times.
- Story not as interesting late into game.

(Reviewed on Nintendo Switch, also available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, App Store, Google Play Store, Mac App Store and Linux)

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+ Fascinating group of characters. </br> + Authentic point-and-click adventure experience. </br> - Puzzles can be too vague at times. </br> - Story not as interesting late into game. </br> </br> (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch, also available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, App Store, Google Play Store, Mac App Store and Linux)Review: Thimbleweed Park