Game Review: Thimbleweed Park (Switch)

I was lucky enough to receive a free playable game download code for my Nintendo Switch…first game ever played on it!!! This is going to be exciting!

Today, most of the games on the market consist of ones that involve diverse 3D graphics with photo realism enhanced detail and advanced key sequences… but not all developers are thinking of the future….more of in the past.

Thimbleweed Park, a point and click adventure game from developer Terrible Toybox (fronted by renowned developers Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick), is taking the approach of using old school 80’s pixelated graphics along with simplistic click and command gameplay to invite players on a who done it murder mystery journey.

The game is played in third person perspective, with a player “inventory” on the bottom and the gameplay screen taking up the rest of the viewable area. The players inventory consists of a list of verbs such as “Pick Up”, “Talk To”, “Use” and “Push” and items in their possession. By clicking on a verb, and then clicking on an item in your inventory or character, the players character will attempt to perform the command described. For example. “Use rock on light”, performed by clicking on the verb “use”, the “rock” in the player’s inventory and the light found in the gameplay area.

This kind of gameplay is very laborious and unless you are use to this gaming style or enjoy solving puzzles in this manner… it can lead to some off-putting boredom.

The game opens in 1987 with a suspicious murder in the town of Thimbleweed Park. The murder itself is quirky, because besides being basically a tutorial of how to command the in game characters (click and command), the murder isn’t even very dramatic…more…awkward in the sense that you wonder how did that just happen!

The game then takes you back to the murder scene, where the body of the victim is “pixilating” (which is one of the many in game puns).  Two FBI agents (who are very similar looking to that of some well known X-Files agents) named Ray and Reyes arrive in Thimbleweed Park to investigate the murder.

Right away, it becomes apparent that there is something fishy going on in this town. The town’s sheriff is evasive and even though he denies it, he appears to look identical to the coroner, and it’s hard to get a straight answer form any of the town’s people. Especially those pigeon people who keep on showing up everywhere that Ray and Reyes go to investigate. Must be “the signals….”

As you progress through the game, you will play through several flashbacks of the various playable characters who become persons of interest in the investigation, and slowly piece together the background story of the town and its odd inhabitants. One of the characters that really stood out to me was Ransome the Clown. He became cursed to wear his makeup forever after going too far with insults during a performance. Almost every second word out of his mouth was “bleeped” and his attitude was totally opposite of a typical clown.  Ray and Reyes themselves are quite vanilla and their dialogue is quite monotone and sleepy like.

Most of the storyline involves you finding/using specific items to complete a part of the story, triggering a flashback, a cut scene or involves you speaking to a specific character to progress the dialogue.

The game itself has many quips/puns to add some comic relief to the game to try and break the fourth wall, like making fun of the pixel like nature of the game (it’s not like we are in 2017 or anything), or the fact that one of the characters Chuck claims that the town is trapped inside a video game.

While the game carries a unique storyline and keeps you playing in order to find out more about the characters and to solve the murder mystery, I found the game sort of tiring to play with the constant need to input commands to get the playable characters to do any action… or even having to try command after command in the effort to find the right one to continue the game along.

For anyone who has had experience with point and click adventure games (such as Monkey Island or Sam and Max), Thimbleweed Park is a must have golden gem for classic old school gaming. But for the newer gamers who have no frame of reference to go on, it’s a tougher game to sell for continuous play.

It’s a traditional game that will not appeal to everyone, but regardless of how you feel about the game, there has to be some merit in the fact that the game launched due to the 15,000 Kickstarter backing it received.

Thimbleweed Park is currently available on PS4, Nintendo Switch and iOS and will be releasing on Android in October 2017.