You can tell what decade someone was born by asking them what their favourite adventure games are. If they immediately respond with any point-and-click games (LucasArts titles in particular), then you know these people are pretty hardcore. Back then, players needed to pay attention in order to get through games like The Dig without using any strategy guides. Now that gaming is a lot bigger than it was in the 80s and 90s, it’s not surprising that these types of games slowly died out. Despite Telltale making these types of games relevant again, many fans desperately want to play ‘proper’ point-and-click games again. Enter Thimbleweed Park.
Back in November 2014, Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick got together to launch a Kickstarter campaign for Thimbleweed Park – a brand new point-and-click adventure game. Well, it may be brand new in a lot of ways, but the style and feel has been taken directly from the old LucasArts games. If you ever loved playing classics like Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island, you’ll be happy to know Thimbleweed Park is identical in all the right ways.
The preview build I played started players off as detectives Angela Ray and Antonio Reyes as they attempt to investigate a murder. These detectives aren’t actually working together, however, you can choose to play as either one throughout the course of the game. Angela Ray is a sarcastic, experienced detective who doesn’t want Antonio Reyes, the rookie detective, slowing her down. As this is a story-driven game, I’m going to avoid talking about any story content as to not ruin anything.
Right from the beginning you can tell Thimbleweed Park has retained that classic look, but there’s something much better about it. The game’s art is more detailed, the engine makes the game run smoothly, and even the basic movement controls have been refined to make it less annoying when you need to backtrack. “Many people will watch this game and think, ‘oh, that looks just like Monkey Island!” said Jenn Sandercock, Gameplay Programmer on Thimbleweed Park, “But in fact if you put the games side by side you’d be like, ‘that old game looks horrific! I’m not going to play that.” Thimbleweed Park is exactly how you remember those old games, without all the frustration and difficulty you may have gone through while playing them.
Speaking of frustration while playing point and click games, Thimbleweed Park lets you know from the start that you cannot die or get stopped at a dead end when playing. While some hardcore players may be disappointed to hear this, I’m hoping most people will be relieved knowing they can’t get stuck at any point. In addition to this, there’s also two difficulty modes: Casual and Normal. Casual mode features a tutorial mode as well as streamlined puzzles, whereas Normal is everything you would expect from a classic LucasArts game. You won’t be able to switch difficulty modes mid-game, so make sure you pick the correct difficulty from the beginning.
You can expect to get through the game in 10-12 hours on Casual, with the playtime rising to potentially 20-24 hours on Normal. The game’s length will vary depending on what type of player you are, but we can’t imagine you will be able to rush it down in a four-hour session. Of course, the types of people playing an adventure game in 2017 will be exploring as much as possible, so you should expect quite a lengthy game.
Thimbleweed Park’s attention to detail is probably my favourite part about it. An example of this is the in-game phone book. One of the Kickstarter tiers allowed backers to add their name to this phone book. When you phone any of the backer’s numbers in the game, the player will be greeted to a personalised message (recorded by the backer). The phonebook contains over two thousand different numbers… good luck listening to all of those messages! I’m almost certain the Kickstarter backers for this game are going to be very happy with their investment, and the best part is that none of these backer additions detract from the game. It may have been annoying to constantly see the Kickstarter backer additions in the game, but they all seem to have been added without ruining the player’s experience.
As someone that has never really played point-and-click adventure games, it’s easy to understand why these types of games aren’t made as often anymore; they demand more attention than I think most players are willing to dedicate to a game. Adventure games like this reward the player with a number of secrets, in-jokes and areas to explore if they are willing to put the time in, and I believe that is unrivalled in almost every other genre. Point-and-click fans are finally going to get the game they’ve been craving for years. I’m hoping Thimbleweed Park will be the game that shows players who are new to the genre just what they’ve been missing out on.