Thimbleweed Park faithfully recreates the look and feel of the classic LucasArts games of the 80’s and 90’s. The team that help made those games so popular return to produce one oozing with charm, humour and quirky puzzles. Those that hadn't experienced the Maniac Mansion or Monkey Island series might find the puzzles too left-field for their tastes, but fans of the original genre should – nay, need – to play this game.
There is a slight bias though. I grew up on the LucasArts games, and consider the humour found in them the basis for my own, as well as helping me form my outside-the-box critical thinking from their puzzles
Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, two of the original members of LucasArts, teamed up to create the new point-and-click adventure game, remaining faithful to t LucasArts originals. With five playable characters, you uncover an interweaving story about their association with the small town of Thimbleweed Park.
The five characters have their own unique personalities, and their own agendas. It may seem overwhelming juggling five characters at first, but it becomes second nature once you get the groove of switching between them in order to complete puzzles.
The puzzles still follow the logic of those LucasArts games; the process to complete them is terribly wacky, and sometimes I had to think way outside the box. Others are just tough nuts to crack, and I found myself reverting to the tried-and-true method of combining every action available to me, with every object on the screen. That includes everything in my inventory, which was a stark reminder of how tedious these games can be.
At least the wacky puzzles are unique in their own way. Thimbleweed Park understands the ridiculousness and hams it up, even breaking the fourth wall at times, and gets meta with the self-awareness that it is a game.
Thankfully for those head-scratcher tasks, the developers have included a to-do list for every character. This addition is a nice improvement on the old mechanics, which require a good memory to recall all the tasks that need to be done before moving on. The addition of casual and hardcore modes also caters for those that have never tried these games before; the former trims some puzzles out of the latter for a more digestible experience, allowing easier progress.
As I reviewed the game on Xbox One, I had no choice but to use the controller. While the controls work well with the designed shortcuts – using bumpers and the d-pad to allow switch between panels – it doesn't hold a candle to mouse controls. The speed at which the mouse can move across the screen is much more efficient than that of a gamepad.
This especially applies when it comes to pixel hunting, a term grandfathered from the 80’s and 90’s, where you move the cursor over every inch of space to find that missing piece of the puzzle on the screen. I wouldn't be complaining about this had I been playing it on PC, but going through the same process using a controller became a chore.
The characters and the jokes are mostly humorous, but a few fall flat. Ransome the *beeping* clown is a stand-out for me, for his sailor mouth and all-round indifference of himself and everyone around him. Some of the characters, like the agents you control in the beginning however, didn't make a lasting impression due to their lackluster voice acting.
Thimbleweed Park takes anywhere between 12 to 20 hours to complete, depending on one's efficiency and experience with previous LucasArts games, as there are many nods to them. I spent a bit longer due to being stuck without a guide to help me, only to have that lightbulb moment when I step away from the game. Usually on the crapper, I do all my important thinking on the crapper.
Ron Gilbert and his team have created a wonderful piece of nostalgia, and for a few hours, brought me back to my younger days, playing on my 386 PC. For those that have the same fond memories of games of yesteryear, like Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island, it is a must-buy. Not only will the memories flood back, you will also notice the little easter eggs the developers have slipped in. For less than $30, you get a near 20 hour experience, and in my opinion, it's worth every cent.
Tony received a digital copy of Thimbleweed Park from the developer for review.