Ron Gilbert is one of the most prominent name for point and click adventure games and it was no surprise to see him returning back to this genre with a Kickstarter. Gilbert has been famous for his humor and work on the cult classic Monkey Island series. Thimbleweed Park is a spiritual successor to his past work including Maniac Mansion and Secrets of the Monkey Island.
The basic story premise of Thimbleweek Park is pretty interesting as it conveys a sense of mystery while establishing some character roles. The game begins with an introduction to the two lead characters that have to solve the mystery of a murder. You control two FBI detectives that are tasked with solving this mystery and you can change between the characters at any point in the game. The main story begins with the introduction to the Thimbleweed Park town but what lies ahead is a journey into uncovering the dark secrets of the town’s inhabitants. This is something that might sound similar to Twin Peaks and it surely is, in a good way.
There are also certain sequences that will shift the story to a different character and there are a grand total of 5 characters to control in the game. Their sequences are all integrated in the story and work together to establish a narrative. The five controllable characters all have their own distinct personality. The game begins with two detectives, Angela Ray and Antonio Reyes but you will be able to control more characters as the story progresses. As an example, there is Ransome the Clown who bad mouths and acts rudely with everyone and while controlling him, you will be able to experience the story through his eyes.
If you have played any of the past point and click adventure games, you might be familiar with the gameplay mechanics revolving around this genre. You have the choice of picking any verb at the bottom of the screen. These can be used to perform various actions, for example, opening a door or giving a character an item. It is old-school design at its core and something that has been revived again for Thimbleweed Park.
Ron Gilbert is famous for his writing and humor in games and Thimbleweed Park is no exception here. The game presents a lot of interesting scenarios to the player and even breaks the fourth wall to present a meta commentary on the point and click genre. It often feels like a lot of careful thought was put in the game to make sure it is well written. It is a enjoyable ride from start to end and never feels dull for any moment.
Majority of your time in the game will be spent exploring around Thimbleweed Park while trying to figure out how to advance the story. It can be tricky at times to figure out the correct verb to use with a particular object since some of them have multiple uses depending on the object, and this can easily confuse some of the newcomers to the genre. Thankfully you also have the option to save the game at any point, and since there is no way to lose progress, it makes the game a bit easier to navigate unlike the classic games in the point and click genre.
Thimbleweed Park is available on the PC and Xbox One and since it is a point and click game, that involves a lot of scrolling around with the mouse, it was interesting to see how the developers have integrated the game’s controls for a controller. I didn’t really face any major issues with the controls since the developers have implemented shortcuts that can help in using verbs to perform actions. The scrolling using analog stick can feel slow but thanks to the shortcut for verbs using the d-pad, it doesn’t feel cumbersome since we don’t have to rely on it at all times. If you are not a fan of scrolling around on every object to find out if they can be interacted with, you can use the right and left bumper to switch to the point of interest on screen and together with the d-pad, it makes it easier to use a particular verb on them.
If you are a fan of pixel art like me, you will enjoy the visuals of Thimbleweed Park. The game oozes charm and style that feels like it is straight out of a 90s adventure game. Despite rendering at a high resolution, the game maintains its pixel based art style that looks great on a TV. Some of the backgrounds are absolutely gorgeous while the main characters are all well animated, the developers have also tried to maintain the authentic old-school feeling with the UI and text.
Thimbleweed Park Review (Xbox One)
Game Reviewed on: Xbox One
Game description: Thimbleweed Park is a point-and-click adventure game developed by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick for Linux, Microsoft Windows, OS X, iOS, Xbox One and Android.
Thimbleweed Park is a return to the form for Ron Gilbert. It provides an engaging experience with well written characters that has the potential to achieve cult status among fans.