First Impressions: Thimbleweed Park
It took me exactly one minute and thirty seconds to fall in love with Thimbleweed Park. A hobo laid in the dirt beyond a pixelated gate, and it was obvious he was drunk. Upon speaking to him, a variety of dialog options appeared.
“Are you a victim of the inferior American support system?”
And that’s how I knew I was in the right place.
Terrible Toybox (seriously, that’s the studio name and I love it) created a spiritual successor to Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion that you didn’t even know you wanted. In fact, it’s by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, creators of Monkey Isle and Maniac Mansion. The point-and-click adventure genre may be only in our distant memories but…oh, who am I kidding? No they’re not. This is 2017. We’re so obsessed with nostalgia these days we aren’t even given the opportunity to miss things. Was this game necessary? No, not at all. Is it good? Absolutely. In fact, I would even say it’s spectacular. But if you hated the point-and-click adventure games from the 90s, you probably won’t want to touch this. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
According to the Steam store page for Thimbleweed Park, a joke is guaranteed to happen every two minutes. I don’t doubt it. Every ten seconds I’m cracking up, but to be honest I kinda sorta just laugh at everything so you might not find the jokes as funny as me. For real, I laugh at most things. The game takes place in 1987, which was a pretty good year, I think (I was four, so it was probably the best), and follows a mystery surrounding a corpse found in a river. Pleasant! At first you’ll be taking control of two federal agents sent to Thimbleweed Park to investigate the death, but you’ll be switching off to different characters throughout the story. Be warned, one of those characters is an insult comic clown, so if you’re still scarred from the new It trailer, you might wanna pass.
There’s 80s trivia peppered throughout the game. I wish I could permanently forget about Max Headroom but this game forced me to remember him and that scary signal intrusion thing. Thanks, Terrible Toybox, for that nightmare fuel.
I’m only a few hours into the game but so far I’m really diggin’ it. Did I mention the art is gorgeous? It’s so beautiful that Fangamer was a true friend and made some prints of the iconic scenery. Heck yes I am hanging that print up in my living room.
The game is fully voiced. Some of the actors are awesome. Others are middling. I don’t think I’ve encountered anything I would consider ‘bad,’ like they just strolled in off the street to read a script. That happens way too often even with large studios.
The soundtrack is pretty great, but I’m not rushing out to purchase it. The score is atmospheric and provides a decent enough background while you solve puzzles. As for the puzzles themselves…so far, haven’t been stumped. I also set the game to ‘casual’ rather than ‘hard.’ That’s something that I haven’t really encountered before – difficulty settings in an adventure game. You’re given the option to set it however you want in the very beginning and it says something about giving you more puzzles to do if you select the more difficult option. I’ll probably stream hard mode at some point so you can all laugh at me as I fall into a pit of despair weaved out of the strands of my own stupidity.
Whatever. Just so long as we don’t have any repeats of The Longest Journey’s duck fiasco, I won’t put my head in between my knees to cry. Promise.
Most reviews are complaining about the over saturation of easter eggs. To these complaints, I say…meh. Yes, there are easter eggs. They are numerous. Some of them are cute and clever (I liked seeing Maniac Mansion characters make cameos, for example), and then some are REALLY on the nose. You’re told upfront by a pair of sisters clad in pigeon garb that you won’t need to save your game often. Nope. You don’t have to. Because unlike Monkey Isle, you can’t die!
It’s true. You can’t die. You can explore freely as much as you want and not die. However, that does not mean freedom from consequence. I poked around an alley a little too much with one of my agents and then he was abducted by a monster and thrown into a sewer that became its own puzzle to escape from. It’s like when you get caught in Maniac Mansion by one of the weird family members and tossed into the basement, but nowhere near as dire.
Overall, I love the game so far and once I get through casual mode I’ll be hitting it up again on hard mode.
At the start of the game, make sure you pop into the menu settings to fix the toilet paper. Otherwise, all the toilet paper rolls are going to be UNDER, instead of OVER, and you don’t need that kind of anxiety and negativity in your life. You’re welcome.
$19.99 ~ Xbox One, GOG.com, Steam, Apple Store
For Windows, Mac, Linux…damn they really put it all over the place. Too bad there’s no Switch version, that would have been cool…