Thimbleweed Park is a retro style point and click adventure game. The game comes from the people who made the Monkey Island games and has lots of nods to it. Like older games, Thimbleweed Park has plenty of ridiculous, illogical logic puzzles so in order to keep things a little bit believable the year is 1987 before any advanced technology came out but enough to keep all characters integral to completion. There’s two difficulties for the different levels of experience of players.
The game controls with a cursor, even on console. It feels good and natural to control so the controller has no negative effect on the experience. As with other games from the genre you can pick a verb to command a character, examples being use, open or look at.
The plot is initially about a murder mystery which never really gets solved because the story grows after you’ve found all the evidence required. It just gets stranger the longer it goes on, leading to a truly bizarre final act.
There are five playable characters, all with their own unique dialogue, story twists and style. From the attitudes that the characters have they all remain interesting throughout the game. All characters must be used too as there are things that some characters can do that others can’t. If four are stuck in one place, the fifth could get them out. The multiple character aspect of the game could get annoying as it wasn’t always clear who was needed to progress the plot and items needed to be physically passed between them which added a lot of running around.
One of the characters carries an old mobile phone. Quite a few of the puzzles involve the use of a phone call as part of the solution, this is why the year needed to be 1987. The phone can be used to call a hint helpline which was sometimes useful for finding out which character or location had the answer to a puzzle but more often made a statement of something the player already knew, and if you used it too much it would just tell the whole answer taking the fun out of guessing.
There are specs of dust littered about the game as collectibles and achievement hunting isn’t too hard but will require a second playthrough.
I played on hard mode because I assumed that that was standard adventure game difficulty. It wasn’t hard as much as some puzzle answers were fine (like using soot as dust) while some made no sense for me (like trading junk with a shopkeeper for money). Sometimes I’d be carrying exactly what I needed for a puzzle while others I needed a whole new are at be discovered. It’s weird and frustrating but also I expected it with the game style. Having played Monkey Island also helped. The retro style graphics did make some things harder than they needed to be with a key hung on a wall looking like part of the wall so I never went near it of my own accord, it just made progression a little awkward at times.
Overall, this is a really good game for those that like this sort of thing. I think that the multiple character idea was inventive but led to me using hints way more than I should have. However Thimbleweed Park was fun and slightly addictive as I spent my time trying to solve the puzzles and hear every line of stupid, funny or clever dialogue. Thimbleweed Park has a lot of charm although I’d like better designs on some items or graphics, I think it’s a nice addition to the genre.