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Thimbleweed Park Review

May 26th, 2017 by

Thimbleweed 001I grew up with the Sierra adventure point and click games such as Police Quest, Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry.  Yes, I was far too young to play the latter and yes I did bullshit my way through the age related questions at the start.  And yes, I didn’t understand some of the jokes.  Then there were the Lucas Arts games include Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders and the Secret of Monkey Island.

I will interject that I am now married with children.  But at the time I was very wary of girls.  Well, in truth I was petrified of them.  Therefore I would spend many a day shut away in my room playing on my computer. The common thread through all of these games was the sometimes very frustrating aspect of clicking random parts of the screen and trying to combine random objects to solve a puzzle.  The occasional illogical puzzle solved by the accidental combination a rubber toy with a screw driver. I mean,  seems perfectly obvious now.

I tried to revisit some of these games a few years ago, especially the later sierra games that I couldn’t play because I didn’t own a PC (I played on Atari ST and Amiga).  What you forget is how bloody hard they are and that they don’t age particularly well.  Hence, why I started this game in casual mode.  Where you get a tutorial.

Adventure games at the time were great due to  the fact that you could click on anything on screen and you would get a comment from your character. “Look at” plus “the “dinosaur” would result in an, at the time, an amusing response.  This was certainly a novelty for us geeks as other games were a simple affair where you had limited scope on what you could do and a paper thin story.  Modern action games have incorporated detailed narrative at the same time allowing you to shoot people in the face.  You can look back at this time in a rose tinted affair all you like or you can realise that today, those point and click games of old are a bit pants.  Especially when see how far this genre has progressed with the likes of the Telltale and Quantic Dream.  In the real world I don’t walk around, look at a wall and say “it’s a wall”.  I am not a bloody toddler.  Even when my kids were little, them stating the obvious soon went from being cute to being annoying.  “Yes darling, you said tractor, it’s a tractor, we get it, stop repeating it ever second for the last five minutes”.  In short, I don’t need a game to tell me something  regardless of how amusing the writers thought it was.

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So, onto the game.  The first 5 minutes start with the game knowingly lampooning those old games.  How you would die and have to do over things.  Now that would have been amusing 15 years ago, it’s just not so much now.  There are the same frustrations found in those old adventure games.  By paying so much homage and making fun of  the old gaming tropes, they forgot to fix some of the others.  That doesn’t so much spoil the experience, but forces you to readjust.

There are plenty of playable characters including the main protagonists; Two federal agents, they both look like Mulder and Scully.  Both annoying.  There’s a clown.  Basically Krusty from the Simpsons.  But swears.  The joke wears very thin after 5 minutes.  In another flashback with geeky kid with a nice touch in a library with book passages written by some of the backers.  Or the phone messages from the developers.

So, this review may sound a tad negative.

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However….

What Thimbleweed Park does it does very well.  The story is engaging and certainly goes from weird to very weird very quickly , the voice acting is excellent and the art design with its attention to detail is beautiful.  The puzzles themselves are varied and range from the simple to requiring multiple characters to complete.  So if you want something different, or you hanker for game that pays a tribute to those adventure games you grew up with,  this is certainly worth your money.

Midlife Gamer Rating: 7.5/10     Format:  PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / PC      Release Date: Out Now

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a review copy of  Thimbleweed Park for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of  four days . For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

 

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