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Thimbleweed Park Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Much like Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island, Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick's newest title will be an experience remembered and celebrated for decades to come. As point and click adventure games go, Thimbleweed Park is nearly perfect. The story is compelling right from the get-go, it has a cast full of fascinating characters and it's a surprisingly long journey with one of the greatest endings of all time. And did I mention that it's funny? I can't remember the last time I laughed this hard at a game. If you grew up loving point and click adventure games, then Thimbleweed Park is an absolute must-play. Rating: 100%
Thimbleweed Park
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  • Review Score:

  • A+
Kickstarter projects have something of a mixed record. While it's easy to point to the success stories like Shovel Knight and Superhot, it's even easier to dwell on the disappointments that didn't even come close to living up to expectations. Crowdfunding is a gamble, and you never really know if the final product is going to be worth the two or three year wait. That was my concern going into Thimbleweed Park, the brand new point and click adventure game from Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island masterminds Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick. I figured there was no way it could possibly live up to the track record and hype. Boy was I wrong. Not only is Thimbleweed Park one of the greatest graphic adventure games I've ever played, but it's also the best thing to come out of Kickstarter. Period.

This is one of those games that's a little tough to talk about. What starts out like any other crime thriller quickly escalates into something a lot more convoluted, giving us a story that twists and turns in ways I didn't see coming. The whole thing centers around a pair of detectives who descend on the small town of Thimbleweed Park to solve an unusual murder mystery. It doesn't take long for agents Angela Ray and Antonio Reyes to get sucked into a world filled with unusual characters who all seem like they are guilty of something.


As Ray and Reyes conduct their investigation, they'll learn the backstories of a number of eccentric characters that connect to the bigger picture. We learn about Ransome, a cursed insult comic who is forced to live the rest of his life in clown makeup. Then there's Franklin, who believes he has created the next big thing, but is always in the shadows of the town's wealthiest businessman. And then there's his daughter, Delores, who desperately wants to leave Thimbleweed Park and move to the big city where she can make point and click adventure games for a living.

After watching the initial trailers, I was more than a little concerned that Ransome the clown as going to be the main star. To put it bluntly, he's a purposely annoying character who curses like a sailor and is hated by the community for good reason. Thankfully, the trailers were misleading. While he's certainly central to the story, you'll spend most of your time with Ray and Reyes as they pick up clues and use the city's tube-powered technology to solve the case. Eventually the game will allow you to switch between these different characters to cover more ground, but even then, I was controlling the two detectives for a large majority of the time.

In true graphic adventure style, the idea is to talk to the townspeople and pick up items that can be used to solve the many puzzles scattered around Thimbleweed Park. Unlike most of the recent point and clickers, this one stays true to the Maniac Mansion interface. This means that the bottom third of the screen is made up of your inventory and a list of verbs that will be used to investigate your surroundings. This may seem a little clunky at first (especially if you're used to some of the more streamlined point and click adventure games), but it ends up being easy to use and a fun source for a lot of comedy gags. It's also worth mentioning that some of the more common commands (like "talk to," "open" and "look at") are mapped to the mouse buttons, so you won't always need to rely on the list of verbs.

Thimbleweed Park (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

More than anything else, there is an earned confidence to Thimbleweed Park you don't see a lot of these days. This is a game made by people who know exactly what they're doing, which makes the way the story unfolds that much more exciting. They know how to tease you early on, as they grab your attention with shocking moments and never let go. This is a team that knows exactly how to create an expertly-crafted graphic adventure and what to do to avoid the many pitfalls along the way. Their decades of experience have taught them the ins and outs of the genre, and this is a better game for it. It also helps that the townspeople are quick to make fun of some of the biggest mistakes found in classic point and clickers, leading to a few truly meta moments.

Thimbleweed Park does an excellent job of not falling into the traps that are far too common with this genre. For one thing, there aren't nonsensical puzzles that require illogical solutions. While it's not always clear how to complete a task, there will usually be enough hints and options to let you figure it out without running to the internet for help. You also won't need to spend all day walking from one side of town to the other, since most of the playable characters will get a map that allows for fast travel. You also can't die, because, as the plumbers dressed up like pigeons remind us, that's no fun in this style of adventure game. It's clear that this was developed by a team that knows exactly what they're doing with the genre.

Unfortunately, a lot of the things that are great about Thimbleweed Park are also the moments I can't talk about in a spoiler-free review. I don't think it's too much to say that this has one of the best endings of all time. I mean that. The way the game wraps up is absolutely perfect on a number of levels. And it's not just the final moments, but how the story subtly prepares you for the big twists along the way. I immediately wanted to replay the whole thing all over again and marvel at the craft. And thanks to a casual and hardcore mode that offers slightly different puzzles, revisiting the story is a viable option.

Thimbleweed Park (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

If there's a weak link in Thimbleweed Park, it's that the characters will occasionally get confused about which way to go. They'll sometimes get stuck and pace back and forth for a brief moment. This doesn't happen very often and is easy to fix, but it's worth mentioning since I couldn't think of anything else I disliked about the game. Also, it probably goes without saying, but people who typically hate point and clickers will probably not enjoy this as much as I did. Again, that's not really a criticism, but don't expect this to convert those who typically dislike the genre.

Back to the things I like, I'm a big fan of the way the game looks and sounds. It's refreshing to see a graphic adventure use old school pixel graphics instead of relying on the more common polygonal look. There are some gorgeous locations scattered around Thimbleweed Park, and I love how expressive all of the characters are. Best of all, the voice acting is superb. It's cartoony without veering off into over-the-top parody. Even the more inconsequential characters have a layer of depth you often don't see anymore. It may be under auspicious circumstances, but I loved hanging out in Thimbleweed Park.

Much like Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island, Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick's newest title will be an experience remembered and celebrated for decades to come. As point and click adventure games go, Thimbleweed Park is nearly perfect. The story is compelling right from the get-go, it has a cast full of fascinating characters and it's a surprisingly long journey with one of the greatest endings of all time. And did I mention that it's funny? I can't remember the last time I laughed this hard at a game. If you grew up loving point and click adventure games, then Thimbleweed Park is an absolute must-play.
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