This game was so fun and rewarding to play through.
If you were around in the late 80s and early 90s, then you will probably remember the LucasArts point and click adventure games such as The Day of the Tentacle (1993), Maniac Mansion (1987), and the ever-popular Grim Fandango (1998). These games were instrumental in the point and click genre, as without them we wouldn’t have a lot of the mystery games you see now; Thimbleweed Park is no exception.
Dubbed as “the spiritual successor to LucasArts”, Thimbleweed Park is the perfect balance of dark, witty, and engaging. If you picture a bowl full of X-Files and you add some Twin Peaks, that’s the sort of imagery you can discover if you venture into the quirky town full of oddballs that the game is named after.
The characters are extremely engaging, entertaining, and all carry a lot of their own individual personalities that make them easily distinguishable and likeable (even the clown, who was my favourite). There are emotional moments, particularly between Delores and Franklin, which feel earned and justified because of how good the characters are. The fact that, as Ransome, you also get to change the night of the disaster show to make it better and more wholesome really does show development in character as well.
The artwork is also very good, particularly the backgrounds that you see throughout the game. Though it doesn’t compare with other point and clicks such as Backbone or Jenny LeClue: Detectivu, it is still very nice to look at.
The writing is fantastic. As stated above, the characters all have their own charms, but the background characters you interact with or overhear have some really funny lines. The Sheriff, the Hotel Manager, and the Doctor are all essentially the same character in appearance, a bit like Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny from the Pokémon anime, with the only major distinguishing factor being the odd additions to their speech (“a-reno, a-who, a-boo”).
The plot is very engaging and holds sincere levels of mystery that does keep the player wanting to know more. The ending is also extremely clever, with an existential Matrix-style reveal that doesn't feel rushed or a copout.
At times, the writing can be a little irritating, but that’s obviously down to personal taste. If you don’t have a problem with constant references to other franchises or trends at the time, then it probably won’t bother you too much. It doesn’t really take away from the fact it’s a great love letter to the era, and it does feel like a timeless entity, but that was just my personal nit-pick and it did not stop me loving this game.
Some of the puzzles can be really simple and easy to solve. Though there are definitely challenges in the game, at times they can feel a little inconsistent with difficulty level. Again, this is more of a nit-pick than a true negative.
Overall, the game is worth playing and investing time in. It’s only around 10 hours of playtime to get all of the achievements, but it’s packed with enough charm to really sate the nostalgic thirst for LucasArts and their stranglehold on our childhoods. The developers really made good on their intentions to make an homage, and I am currently playing through it for the third time for sheer pleasure and not to hunt for the achievements I definitely missed.
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