Thimbleweed is quite possibly the most ambitious adventure game (point-and-click) ever created. Offering an open world to explore, a Twin Peaks-style murder mystery, an overarching conspiracy about a small America town, and a commentary on gaming culture, all rolled into a well crafted enjoyable package.
“Thimbleweed is quite possibly the most ambitious adventure game (point-and-click) ever created”
It’s truly old school to its roots: Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick are its creators, the same guys responsible for The Secret Of Monkey Island, a true timeless classic. It has the same dry humour those games are famous for: there are five playable characters in total all of which are interesting and have a distinct personality. The conversations between these playable characters and the town’s wacky folks offers a lot of enjoyment in itself, the writing is clever and funny, making us laugh on several occasions.
Interesting and enjoyable puzzles are the bedrock of any decent adventure game, and Thimbleweed Park’s puzzles are no exception. Each of the five playable characters is given a list of available tasks, and solving them requires all manner of activities including searching the town for clues, interrogating its inhabitants, and combining inventory items in imaginative ways using the games accessible UI.
One memorable puzzle early on involves broadcasting a made-up crime over a police scanner so that a pesky journalist will leave her office to investigate, allowing you to steal and photocopy an important map – but there’s a catch, you have to find a nickel to feed the machine first.
“On average the game will offer approximately 20 hours of gameplay”
Overall the puzzles are of a high difficulty resulting in solving them being very satisfying, although we found a handful to be a little too obscure, and we ended up looking up for solutions online for a few, but hey, we’d rather have tough satisfying puzzles that we can solve most of the time than all easy puzzles that give us no joy. On average the game will offer approximately 20 hours of gameplay, if you can’t spare 20 hours to point and clicking, then there’s a handy casual mode that removes the more time consuming trickier events.
So what’s the catch? Satisfying puzzles: check, interesting well-acted characters: check, an open world to explore: check, an atmospheric setting: check. Well, if there is a negative to mention then it would be an inconsistent plot. An unsolved murder is the focus for the first half of the game, which fizzles out about halfway through, leaving a grander conspiracy theory for the remainder. From the start, there are references to a bigger picture, and oddities such as the fact that the sheriff and the coroner are the same : person, which lends the little town a sinister atmosphere.
“Well, if there is a negative to mention then it would be an inconsistent plot”
The problems lie in the more direct references to the overarching plot, which pull you away from the murder mystery to do what seem like meaningless tasks – like feeding Ransome the clown’s hamster by picking up individual pieces of popcorn which quite frankly just isn’t fun. (however, these tasks do end up having some significance later). You therefore feel like you’re thrown in the deep end halfway through, forced to piece together plot points that you don’t really care about. While the ending is most definitely worthwhile, i couldn’t help shake the feeling that i was simply going through the motions just to get there.
Despite the stop-start plot, Thimbleweed Park is an excellent adventure game worthy of your time. The satisfaction of working out its well crafted puzzles will keep you coming back, even If the plot drags at times. While it doesn’t quite reach the dizzy heights of the old classics of yesteryear, it’s no doubt proof that the adventure game genre is still truly alive and kicking.
Clever, funny, satisfying, with only a minor issue with plot pacing. A welcome shot in the arm for the adventure game genre.