Thimbleweed Park is the game I’ve been waiting years for

Two years ago, I backed Ron Gilbert & Gary Winick’s Kickstarter fund the princely sum of $US20 for the point-and-click adventure game they wanted to make.

It was a no brainer for me, to be honest. I loved played the classic Lucasarts point-and-click games like Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Full Throttle and Day of the Tentacle. Games that both Gilbert and Winnick were involved it. Those readers that have been reading my blog for a while will know that I’ve already waxed lyrically about Grim Fandango and Full Throttle, games that I still own today on disc.

I paid the money, the game got funded and I sort of forgot about it and let Winick and Gilbert get on with it. There were updates during the two years from the duo about how things were going and late last week, an email arrived that lifted my heart: Thimbleweed Park was finished and ready to play. My heart jumped for joy.

“Thimbleweed Park has been set free. Thimbleweed Park has been released into the wild. Thimbleweed Park has been kicked out of the house, told to get a job,” the email opened. It was the news I’d been waiting for. It was time to be transported back to my gaming heydays …

My teenage son, who is 17, can’t understand why I like games like Thimbleweed Park and the whole point-and-click adventure series. I told him it’s because I just love games that make me think rather than just move from point A to B shooting everything that moves. He doesn’t get it but it’s not his fault: He’s a gamer of the 2000s, a decade when point-and-click adventure games are all but forgotten by most gamers apart from those my age probably.

Thimbleweed Park follows the conventions of the classic games that went before it: Solve  mysteries using the items you find in the game world, combining objects to complete tasks. In the game you eventually get to control five actors (FBI agents Reyes and Ray, wannabe video game programmer Delores, Ransome the Insult Clown, and Franklin Edmund, Delores’ father), swapping between them at the click of a button. It looks like a game from 1987, which it’s pixellated graphics and cheesy music, but I love it.

I’m about six and a half hours in so far and playing it on PC with mouse and keyboard (point-and-click adventure games don’t feel right to me using a controller) and none of the puzzles have stumped me greatly, although some will really make you think about what you have to combine to create the end product. I haven’t come across as anything as mind-bendingly hard as some of those in Monkey Island but there’s still time and some items that you’ll need are hard to find (particularly a chainsaw that I needed later in the game …)

With games like this, if you pay attention to what characters say and think logically, you’ll solve most puzzles easily enough. The story is engaging and the dialogue is snappy, and I haven’t come across any game-breaking bugs yet. If I had any criticism, it’s that I think at times the game mentions past adventure games a little too much. It kind of breaks the fourth wall a little too much for my liking at times.

I’ve got other games to play at the moment – Zelda Breath of the Wild (Nintendo Switch) and Mass Effect Andromeda (PlayStation 4) – but I’m gravitating to Thimbleweed Park right now. It’s the game I want to play until the end (unlike the other point-and-click adventure game I Kickstarted, Tim Schafer’s Broken Age: I gave up on that one after playing just the first part. I just didn’t like it that much, plus the development process was disjointed).

I’m enjoying the hell out of Thimbleweed Park and I’m glad I backed it. It’s taken me back to an age when games were clever and made you think and gameplay was more important that realistic graphics.

Thank you Ron Gilbert and Gary Winick. Thank you for making Thimbleweed Park. It’s been the best $US20 I’ve even spent.

 

 

Nostalgia made me do it: Why I backed Thimbleweed Park

As a boy who cut his gaming teeth on Lucasarts point-and-click adventure games like Day of the Tentacle, Maniac Mansion, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango and The Monkey Island games (when Lucasarts used to make good games, that is), backing Thimbleweed Park on Kickstarter was a no-brainer.

No sooner had I watched the Kickstarter trailer of the new game from Maniac Mansion creators Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick  I had my credit card out, pledging $US20, which gives me a digital copy of the game  when it’s finished.  Unusually for me when it comes to spending money on anything, there was no hesitation, no “Umming” or “Ahhing”, no checking with the Home Office:  I just backed the project.

Here’s the trailer that convinced me to back Thimbleweed Park:  

I blame nostalgia (I also blame nostalgia for my backing of Tim Schaefer’s Broken Age, the only other video game I’ve supported via Kickstarter) for my decision to back this as-yet-unmade game.

I blame part of my inner gamer wanting games to be like they were when I was a youngster. My teenage son, who  has been born into an age of games like Call of Duty, Battlefield and GTA, doesn’t understand why I like old-skool point-and-click games. He just doesn’t get it.

I can’t exactly say why I loved the point-and-click adventure games so much but I just did. Another of my favourites was Westwood’s Blade Runner, based on Ridley Scott’s universe. I still have it and its four CD Roms and copies of Grim Fandango and Full Throttle on a shelf in my spare room. When I first started playing games we didn’t have photo-realistic graphics to carry a game that lacked substance. We relied on solid and inventive game play that required a bit of logic.

ThimbleweedanimationGamers of today will probably cringe at the huge pixellated characters point-and-click adventure games had – I know my son does – and many will struggle with the often head-scratching puzzles where you had to combine objects to find the solution, but I loved it. I still do (I think). Yes, Thimbleweed Park could have been remade with more modern graphics but honestly, I love the charm of the way games used to look and be.

Here’s what Gilbert and Winnick say on Kickstarter about the game: “Thimbleweed Park is the curious story of two washed up detectives” called in to investigate a dead body found in the river just outside of town. It’s a game where you switch between five playable characters while uncovering the dark, satirical and bizarre world of Thimbleweed Park.”

“We want Thimbleweed Park to be like an undiscovered classic LucasArts’ adventure game you’d never played before. A game discovered in a dusty old desk that puts a smile on your face and sends a wave of nostalgia through you in the same way it does for us,”Gilbert and Winnick say.

The game is expected sometime in June next year and no doubt once I start playing it there will be times when I’ll start pulling what hair I have left and will curse my nostalgia when I’m stumped by some confoundedly difficult problem that I just can’t solve,  but right now I’m excited to see a game like Thimbleweed Park being made. I really hope Gilbert and Winnick get the funding to make the game.

So, here’s to hoping that Thimbleweed Park puts a smile on my face and I’m swamped by the tsunami of nostalgia that it promises will wash over me.